Planted Aviaries


This is the first of a series of articles dealing with plant-

ed aviaries. Subsequent articles will be concerned with "styles" of aviaries and the kinds of plants associated with them.

All too often, Planted aviaries are not PLAN-ted. Either the numbers and kinds of birds in the aviary are wrong for the plants, the plants are wrong for the birds, or both. More than likely, there will be too many birds in the aviary resulting in white-washed plants that soon die and a general dung heap atmosphere. A reasonable approach to the planted aviary is to view it as a garden containing birds. This can be designed as a separate garden or as an integrated part of the rest of the property.

Naturally, there will be gardening differences that are governed by climate, but the philosophy of gardening is the important thing. Approach to gardens can be formal or informal, and because of the "natural" look associated with birds, I will be concentrating on the informal garden.

Japanese gardens are becoming increasingly popular lately, which is a


great shame because the philosophy of Japanese gardening is being ignored in favor of a number of gardening cliches. Briefly, the idea is to create a garden

 that is controlled, but that looks as if it were growing completely on its own without the interference of man. Th~ materials used are of little importance provided they are those that would be found together in nature, or that MIGHT be found together. For example, Leptospermum, from Australia, will look at home in either a Sonoran (dry country) garden or a desert garden.

Pruning and general maintenance can be kept to a minimum. In most parts of the country, the time for this is

in the early spring so that dead wood can be recognized as the buds begin to break. In areas like Southern California, just before the rains begin in January should be a good time. In warm areas it is sometimes difficult to find a time when there are no birds breeding, especially if you have a mixed collection.

Let's begin from the ground up. An aviary should be longer in one of its dimensions than it is high. Birds need horizontal, not vertical exercise. It's much simpler to deny the majority of vermin access to the aviary than it is to remove them once they are established. The concrete foundation should be two feet deep and about six inches thick. It may seem expensive, but it won't be in the long run and it's far less difficult than you may think.