environmental education programmes
Create a Haven for WildlifeDid you know that a pretty garden pond with a fountain tends not to be the ideal habitat for our native fish, frogs and toads? A naturally “messy” eco-pond overgrown with pond weeds is more what these animals have in mind as their ideal home, and where they will more likely consider safe to build their nests and rear their young ones. Many ornamental and hybridised plants are bred only for their showy flowers, not for their natural nectar-producing capabilities. Thus butterflies, moths, sunbirds and honeybees that survive on nectar depend on native wildflowers for their food.
What you can do to make a difference for native wildlife
- Grow native plant species in your garden, below your windowsill, along your corridor and in your balcony. Native wildlife will naturally recognise them as food sources and will visit.
- Be generous, allow a portion of your garden to grow wild. Wildflowers will naturally colonise this patch and wildlife will feel more comfortable to stop by and stay.
- Create an eco-pond. Water is life for our native species of frogs, toads, dragonflies and damselflies and where they complete their life cycles. It’s also a source of clean drinking water for thirsty wildlife.
- Go Organic! Do not use chemical pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and fertilisers in your garden. They kill wildlife and their toxins are harmful to you and your family. Do choose to use more natural, herb-based options available in the market.
- Always go for a non-chemical option. For instance, instead of fogging with chemicals, have fish in your pond to eat up mosquito larvae. Many herb and spice plants such as Citronella Grass and Tea Tree repel pest insects.
Let wildlife be your garden guests!
- Butterflies will visit your garden when you grow native plants. Grow a mix of flowering plants to provide nectar, and leafy food plants for their caterpillars. For instance, the pretty Common Asystasia (Asystasia intrusa) is the caterpillar foodplant of two very pretty native butterflies, the Great Eggfly and the Blue Pansy. Its purple-tongued white flowers are also nectarful lures.
- Moths are nocturnal and attracted to fragrant night-blooming flowers. The gigantic Atlas Moth chooses to lay her eggs on the Sea Poison Tree (Barringtonia asiatica) and Sea Lettuce (Scaevola taccada), both common native seashore plants.
- Harmless Carpenter Bees will visit to buzz-pollinate the pink flowers of Sendudok or Singapore Rhododendron (Melastoma malabthricum). Kids will love to see how they go about doing it, observing how the bees collect pollen grains onto their hairy legs.
- So what if your plants get chewed up by caterpillars? Mature plants recover and soon grow new leaves as the caterpillars magically transform into pretty winged adults. It’s a small price to pay for the pleasure of flying colours in your garden.
- With more insects like butterflies in your garden, they in turn will attract insectivorous birds and lizards. The shiny Sun Skink and Supple Skink will turn up when your garden provides a buffet of creepy-crawlies to suit their taste.
Wild birds… they enliven our gardens
- Iridescent sunbirds are our version of the nectar-sipping hummingbirds native to the Americas. Not only are sunbirds simply gorgeous, they help pollinate our plants and control insect populations. The native White Costus (Costus speciosa) and the wild Bleeding Heart Vine (Clerodendron thomsonae) are their favourites. They will even hang their pouch nests on a weepy potted Japanese Bamboo (Dracaena surculosa) in your balcony garden.
- Share… leave a papaya to ripen naturally on your tree as lunch for visiting wild birds such as the musical Black-naped Oriole and Yellow-vented Bulbul. At night, the Short-nosed Fruit Bat will come share in the feast, too.
- Wild grasses in your garden will attract Munias, Spotted and Peaceful Doves. They come to peck up fallen grass seeds.
- Waterhens will visit a well-planted eco-pond and feel safe among the reeds. Kingfishers pop by to fish up breakfast. Pacific Swallows skim low for a refreshing dip in hot weather, or snap up flying insects hovering over the water. So will Large-footed Myotis Bats at night.
Bats are so important!
- Our native insect-eating bats eat up millions of bugs every night. Their fruit-eating cousins pollinate fruit trees such as Durian and disperse seeds of forest trees. Bats therefore are so very crucial to the health of our environment.
- Grow Fan Palm trees in your garden for them to use as daytime roosts. The enchanting Short-nosed Fruit Bat likes to keep his harem of females safe under a Fan Palm leaf. He cleverly nibbles the side veins of the leaf so that it collapses and forms a tent-roost for his family.
Dragonflies & Damselflies, Frogs & Toads
- Creating an eco-pond in your garden will attract wildlife which need a source of unpolluted water to complete their life cycles.
- The native Four-lined Treefrog can easily climb up into an elevated urn pond to build her foam nest and to lay her eggs within.
- Reeds spilling out of the water become landing and lift-off pads for dragons and damsels. These are aerial carnivores and eat up mozzies by the thousands.
Conserve Natural Habitats
As our human population grows, many natural habitats are destroyed. Our native wildlife need their homes--to feed, rest and raise their families. Many species are now no longer common or are going locally extinct.
Our protected nature reserves are homes to an incredible diversity of wild plants and animals. Our parks and gardens are also important, crucial sources of food and are homes for species that are trying to adapt to more developed, urban spaces.
So, grow native plants, create your own wildlife garden!
Cicada Tree Eco-Place offers the following eco-gardening services:
- Create an eco-garden for your home, school or office.
- Create herb, spice, fruit and water gardens.
- Conduct native plant-identification guided field trips.
- Conduct native plant propagation and gardening workshops.
- Conduct kids' fun 'Grow Things' program where kids will learn all about plants and how to grow them.
Websites on native flora, fauna & their habitats:
- Bollywood veggies farm at 100 Neo Tiew Road, Singapore 719026 www.bollywoodveggies.com
- Green Circle eco-farm at 155 Neo Tiew Road, Singapore 710000 www.greencircle.com.sg
- World Farm at 15 Bah Soon Pah Road, Singapore 769962 www.worldfarm.com.sg
- Nature guide book series published by Singapore Science Centre
- 1001 Garden Plants in Singapore by National Parks Board
For registration/enquiries, please email .