Lydia Robledo, multi-talented WBCP member who is also a member of the Philippine Butterfly Habitat Conservation Society and Philippine Native Plant Conservation Society describes how to turn an urban garden into an oasis for butterflies and birds.
Birds in My Butterfly Garden
by Lydia Robledo
“The lesson I have thoroughly learnt, and wish to pass on to others, is to know the enduring happiness that the love of a garden gives.” Gertrude Jekyll
My garden is a butterfly garden. It is a mini-forest where I have allowed plants, vines and grass to grow as they wish. My friend, Sonia of Sonia’s garden, describes such garden as “orchestrated chaos”. I have a couple of big trees -a golden shower that is the larval host of the Catopsilia butterflies. The coconut tree behind the house is where my Aristolochia (Dutchman’s pipe vine, hosts for the big birdwing caterpillars) make its “up-creep”. I have allowed one lemoncito bush tree to grow tall and the others have been maintained as low hedges. They teem with red berries all year round. The Papilio larvae feast on the leaves to become Lime butterflies.
Aside from the larval host plants, flowers also attract all kinds of adult butterflies. I have planted Lantana camara, single-petaled Hibiscus, Passion vine, Chinese parasol and Heliconias in my garden. Even with the abundant nectar source and larval host plants, the butterflies come only on certain seasons. A delightful recompense for the absence of butterflies is the presence of a family of nectar feeding sunbirds that have taken residence in my garden. Every day without fail, they merrily feed on the sweet nectar moving from flower to flower.
Likewise, the Yellow vented bulbuls are regular feasters of the lemoncito berries and mickey mouse seeds. Not to be outsmarted, they also get their boost of nectar from the blooms, oftentimes bullying the sunbirds. They also feed on insects and are joined by Pied fantails.
Every now and then the skittish Golden bellied flyeater and Low-land White Eyes make surprise stops in my garden. My garden also had been visited by a Brush Cuckoo. A zebra dove or two daintily walk around the garden with the Eurasian tree sparrows. I also leave the leaf litters to rot in the dark corner of my garden, hoping that one day, the Black headed or Red bellied pitta will check the moist ground under the compost for some delectable worms.
If I had a bigger garden, I’d plant trees like the Anabiong, Alim, Bignay pugo and Balete, which are sure favorites of seed eating birds.
Flowers, plants and trees are our silent friends, but with the movement of birds and butterflies, the garden teems with life, the cheerping of the birds cheer the soul. He who plants a bird and butterfly garden will experience pure delight.