Welcoming: Ron and Karen Gray, along with Zeus and Gemma, are looking forward to sharing what they’ve created at Birdsong Nursery and Gardens. Photos: ALISTAIR FINLAY

Natives sound great at Birdsong

January 22, 2020 BY

FROM the moment you step onto Karen and Ron Gray’s five-acer property nestled on the edge of Smythesdale, you know why they’ve called their new venture Birdsong.

The land teems with the sounds, smells and flavours of the Australian bush, and now the Gray’s are opening Birdsong Nursery and Gardens for everyone to enjoy.

The Gray’s have created a terraced garden with the help of Warrick Pitcher from Elaine Excavations and filled it with Australian natives and water features.

“We’d come out here of a morning and I’d have my coffee before I went to work and the bird life was just incredible,” Karen said. “The more we’ve put into the garden the more the birds have come in. That’s where it all started.

“We think people will enjoy sitting on the verandah having a coffee or a cold drink and enjoying the peaceful time.”

There are so many reasons why the Gray’s have opened Birdsong to everyone. From an early age Karen was experienced plants and a love of gardens thanks to her mother.

Now, together with Ron, the couple have transformed their block to open spaces and canopied areas, along with rock lined creeks.

They’ve also been running plant stall at the Smythesdale and Belmont markets for the last few years.

“Things have just evolved,” Karen said. “We bought the place three years ago and there was nothing here, it was a virgin block, essentially.

“We see Birdsong more as a garden experience, people just want to come out and have a chat about natives.”

The new nursery will offer exclusively Australian natives including banksias, grevilleas, callistemons, flowering grafted eucalyptus and other gums, erremophilas, correas, plants from the Tucker Bush tucker plants and lots more, mostly in 140, 160 and 200-millimetre pots.

There’s also a range of decorative pots and planters, a special low phosphate Australian native potting mix for plating that the Gray’s have created with a supplier, as well as slow release fertilisers and handy crafts and arts.

The things on offer, from plants to potting mix, has been stocked based on Ron and Karen’s experience creating their Australian native garden in Smythesdale and they want to share the knowledge with visitors.

“We have snow here sometimes, and really heavy frosts, right through to 40-degree days,” said Ron. “So, we know what’s going to work in this region.”

“It’s been trial and error with our plantings, we’ve put things in and lost them, so things that have worked we recommend to people,” add Karen. “Whatever we’ve found does well here is what where stocking.”

Cockolas the cockatoo is ready to greet arrivals.

Yet Birdsong is more than just a place to get a wide range of native plants and the things to help them grow.

Karen has been cooking up a storm as a chef for over three decades and an onside food van will showcase her culinary talents.

She’ll be weaving in bush tucker plants like pepper berry, lemon myrtle and saltbush from her garden into the food, so Birdsong Nursery and Gardens is a place you can spend hours enjoying in many ways.

“I love those native herbs in cooking,” Karen said. “I make homemade pies, pasties and sausage rolls and I try and incorporate the herbs. This morning I went out the back and picked a heap of herbs and put them through the meat for sausage rolls.”

Birdsong Nursery and Gardens has been a labour of love for Karen and Ron.

Along with Warrick Pitcher from Elaine Excavations they have worked hard to create a range of spaces on the site including terraced gardens, a creek and a sweeping veranda where visitors can rest, take in views of the garden and enjoy the food.

Birdsong Nursery and Garden is located at 9 Baglin Street, Smythesdale. Contact Karen and Ron on 5342 8346, 0416 057 713 or [email protected]. Also, find them on Facebook at facebook.com/BirdsongNursery.