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It is sad to know that the last remnants of South African’s indigenous flora are disappearing at an alarming rate. Urban development, over-population, farming, plantations and other pressures on the land account for more and more destruction of the natural habitat of our birds, insects, reptiles and mammals.

Many gardeners don’t know that their well kept gardens full of exotics, where animals once lived, have become green wastelands with very little life.

By planting some indigenous vegetation and attracting the animals which live amongst it we can bring nature back to our gardens and restore some natural ecology in our urban space. Hindu shrines which are decorated with greenery signify the preservation of Mother Earth.
On the other hand all the exotics plants being grown in our gardens give the impression that the majority or people are doing their best to not care about conserving the earth but rather doing their best to destroy the creators work. Many of the South African species are cultivated and planted all over the world.
A good example of these plants is Strelitzia reginae and Agapanthus africanus which is cultivated for cut flowers and planted in gardens worldwide.

South Africa has one of the most diverse floral kingdoms in the world and there is a substitute with similar shape and flowering for almost every exotic, you just got to look for it.
So get down to it and discuss what plants you can plant to attract your favoured birds, insects, reptiles or mammal. Let’s start with my favoured the chameleon, one way to attract Chameleon’s to your garden it to plant restios.

Restios are usually tuffed reedy looking plants, are ancient precursors of true grasses, which they replace in areas where the soil lacks nutrients and the majority of the annual rainfall occurs in winter. While many species occur where drainage is restricted and the ground is water logged, other favours dry areas with little water availability. These plants are eye catching because of there architectural form and often used in modern style planting. Although pollinated by wind Restio’s are popular with small insects and this in return attracts chameleons.

Birds are always a wonder full site in the garden and there is a large variety of plants that you can plant to attract all different types of species of birds. Let’s start with the fruit eaters. Some species to plant to attract fruit eaters are Apodytes dimidiata(Wild Pear), Celtis africana,(White Stinkwood) Ocotea bullata(Stinkwood) Ficus species(Figs) and Harpephyllum caffrum (Wild Plum) These fruiting trees will attract beautiful birds such as the Knysna Loerie, Green pigeons, Trumpeter Hornbills and Redfaced mousebirds.

Next let’s talk about the nectar eaters which comprises of birds such as Malachite Sunbirds, Cape Sugar Bird, Doublecollared Sunbird and the Scarletchested Sunbird. These small but beautiful birds are attracted by species such as Aloe species, Burchellia bubalina (Wild Pomegranate), Kniphofia species (Red Hot Pokers), Leonotus leonorus (Wild Dagga), Melianthus species (Honey Flowers) and Tecoma capensis(Cape Honey Suckle). We can also plant species which attract insects for pollination which in return attracts the insect eater birds such as the African Hoopoe, African Pied wagtail, Little Bea Eater, Cardinal Woodpecker and Fiscal Shrike

The plants you can plant to get these birds in your garden are Clemantis brachiata (Travellers Joy), Metalasia muricata (White Bristle Bush), Plumbago auriculata (Plumbago), Schotia afra (Karoo Boer-bean) and Sutherlandia frutescens(Cancer Bush). Lastly we can plant some plants that attract the seed eaters such as Cymbopogon species (Turpentine Grass), Cynodon dactylon (Couch Grass),Eragrostis obtuse (Drew Grass) and Panicum maximum (Guinea Grass).

If you are young enough you are in for the magic of nature and will see the fruits of your labour. However you are never too old to start planting indigenous. Would you like future owners of your garden to remember you as a far sighted legend who cared for the earth or as one of the “eco-vandals” who indirectly contributed to the extinction of so many of our own species?