First, a confession. I’ve been suffering from a bad case of the green-eyed monster. Ever since moving into our 100 year old villa in suburban Wellington a year and a half ago, I’ve enviously spied over fences and hedges at neighbourhood gardens bursting with colour and lovingly cared for.

But in much the same way as people sit glued to Masterchef while eating their microwave dinners, I’d much rather read Home & Garden than pick up a shovel.

We love the area we are in because it is so green, just down the road from the Zealandia wildlife sanctuary. Yet we’ve attracted more weeds than wildlife, and at best our garden could be described as wild.

All this may be about to change, however, as my colleague Suz from WWF has just been over to inspect our long neglected and unkempt section. And where I saw chaos she saw potential; the potential to transform the space into an attractive haven for native birds and other species.

Walking around the 500 square metre Northland property, which in true Wellington fashion is narrow and steep, Suz saw beneath the weeds to identify a rockery that is ideal habitat for lizards. She saw areas crying out for some native hedging. She identified a sheltered spot on our deck ideal for establishing a lovely potted nikau before it grows large enough to plant out.

Suz is part of the Kereru Discovery,  a project championed by WWF and Wellington City Council, with core funding from the Lottery Grants Board. The programme is designed to encourage people to make their gardens more Kereru friendly, to help the population of our native woodpigeon flourish in the Wellington region. Once, large flocks of kereru filled the sky, today they are at risk from habitat loss, introduced predators and lack of native  food sources.

My husband and I are keen to do our bit to encourage Kereru from the nearby sanctuary into our garden. This will also attract other native birds such as tui, kaka and bellbirds.  Suz has the expertise  to provide some much-needed advice on our ‘garden makeover’ – and I’ll be sharing these tips and our progress as we go.

And it seems Mother Nature is encouraging us. As we sat discussing plans for pest control, weeding and winter planting, Suz spotted a kereru flying past our dining room window to land in a large pine tree (quite possibly a nesting site) across a small gully. “You’re already on the flight path,” she told us excitedly. Hopefully our new garden will soar to new heights, great news for our family and the native birds around us.

Story by: WWF’s Rosa Argent

The garden before the project

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