Often we think of conserving NZ’s natural heritage by using large national parks or predator-free islands and sanctuaries like Kaipupu Point. These are places to enjoy, admire and sometimes be able to visit. Yet for most us, our gardens are our closest connections with the natural environment and, for many, our gardens can provide much valued pleasures of the world of plants and animals. Kaipupu Point’s Good Neighbours project aims to help local homeowners create native wildlife-friendly gardens by appropriate plantings and predator control and in this way become Good Neighbours to Kaipupu Point. Wellingtonians have initiated a halo concept around Zealandia Sanctuary and consequently seen an increase in native birds to the suburbs. Local gardeners might be doing this already and want to increase their garden’s biodiversity; the richness of plant and animal species. So we were very interested in the fascinating findings from a study of how Dunedin urban householders related to their gardens, their approach to planting, use of the garden etc. (However, Dunedin is not Picton-Waikawa, so we do wonder whether these findings fit with our smaller population and proximity to surrounding bush). In urban Dunedin at least, home owner’s relationships with their gardens turns out to have many facets. There was a theme expressed succinctly by one homeowner who put it as “My garden is an expression of me“. This philosophy fits with a more widely emerging view that native plants are a part of national identity. Indeed, more than three-quarters of Dunedin homeowners said they appreciated and preferred native plants over exotics, but native plant species were actually in the minority in their gardens. Is this a reflection of an earlier, more colonial perception of gardens and would that apply to our local areas? The authors of this report wondered if gardeners would use more native plants if they knew more about what natives would fit their needs. Good Neighbours will be holding bird-friendly plant sales again this autumn and spring, so look out for what’s available and at low prices too! An encouraging finding was that small gardens had the same biodiversity potential as large gardens. That is, small gardens can have the same richness of plant and animal life as large gardens. It is not a matter of size; it is how you use it. Some larger gardens were taken up by patios, decks, paving and large lawns which obviously limits what wildlife can live there. Contributed by Andrew John.
Established in 2005, Kaipupu Point Sounds Wildlife Sanctuary is the closest sanctuary to Picton. Protected by a pest resistant fence, Kaipupu Point is a safe haven to many native plant and animal species.