A recipe for wildlife-friendly gardens


A tall mature tree native to the area


Peter Chomley

Janet and Will’s Manna Gum has provided beauty, shade, and habitat for diverse wildlife in their garden. Forty-five years ago, their parents planted the tree in the corner of their large Point Lonsdale block, wondering if it might attract an adventurous Koala from the Ocean Grove Nature Reserve!

Although the Koala never came, the tree thrived, providing food, shelter, and places to perch for many a generation of Ring-tailed Possum, Tawny Frogmouth, Eastern Rosella, Magpie, Red Wattlebird, Magpie-lark and Grey Butcherbird. The tree’s canopy is now more than 25 metres and the trunk almost a metre wide. Janet noted ‘we now have a huge tree in our garden!’

‘We enjoy watching how different species of birds use the tree. We observe birds combing its bark and leaves for spiders and insects. It is a great vantage point for birds to scan the surrounding landscape and to sing, warble or chime. Last year we installed a rosella nesting box that created an initial flurry of excitement for the rosellas, and this year has attracted a breeding pair!’

The Manna Gum is also known as the Ribbon Gum because its bark sheds in ribbons, revealing beautiful white branches. Will notes that the mulch of leaf and bark under the tree is alive with worms, slaters, fungi and skinks. And in its shade, indigenous plantings of Kidney Weed, Kangaroo Grass, sword-sedge (Lepidosperma spp.), mat-rushes (Lomandra spp.) and Coast Beard-heath are all thriving.

‘Sadly, our much loved and valued tree is ageing,’ said Janet. ‘The canopy keeps thinning and we keep watching and yearning for signs of regrowth. We are reminded that nothing lasts forever, and that gardens change. We hope our tree bounces back, but if not, we may yet replace it with another large eucalypt, a Bellarine Yellow Gum, to be enjoyed by future generations of humans and wildlife.’


Robyn Curtis

Next ingredient