**** DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER IF YOU ARE AFRAID OF CREEPY CRAWLIES!
I consider myself very fortunate to live in the beautiful Blue Mountains of New South Wales. I often post images of spring blossom or spectacular autumn foliage on Facebook, but I do face certain challenges in my garden. And not everything is beautiful! The following photo may be why cold callers tend to hesitate before venturing in. Our property is called The Gums, and this one is as good as a guard dog. I should add that the term ‘wildlife’ in the title of this article is used in the broadest sense, ie; all of nature’s wonders.
BEASTS WITH NOT ENOUGH LEGS
The most aggressive snake we have is the highly venomous Eastern Brown Snake. I can’t say that I have ever seen one in our 16 years here. More common is the Copperhead. It too is venomous, but quite shy, and far less likely to cause trouble. My partner Rob assures me that they prefer to stay down by Pope’s Glen Creek eating frogs. I choose to believe him, though logic tells me they must enjoy little outings sometimes. Without doubt there are snakes sharing our garden but they probably just slither away before I spot them.
A far worse legless beast is….the LEECH. I have a phobia about them, and can barely type the name. I definitely could not post a picture of one. Unlike snakes and spiders they deliberately creep up on you. UGH!! I may have had one on me once, but thankfully it fell off and just left blood streaming down my leg. Recently I ripped my trousers off in the middle of the driveway, freaked out by a crimson stain. It was a false alarm, blood had dripped from a badly cut arm (another story completely).
BEASTS WITH TOO MANY LEGS
Of course, the worst multi-limbed creature is the fabled Sydney funnel-web spider. Folk say they can bite through a concrete block…well a thick glove anyway! We have lots in our garden. I noticed a web in a wooden seat the other day, which could be nasty.
Many Sydney-siders remember the occasion when a hapless newsreader described a woman’s misadventure with a spider as; ‘ Unfortunately she was bitten on the funnel by a finger-web spider.’ According to urban myth he was subsequently demoted, becoming the voice of the recorded time message ; ‘ON THE THIRD STROKE IT WILL BE TEN THIRTY ONE…..’
Ironically, a ‘harmless’ huntsman spider bit me on the wrist last year. I forgave him, despite a painful, golf-ball sized lump, as he was fractious from a spidery illness. He was hiding under the rim of a bucket I was washing out.
I have never been able to find what lurks within this silken tunnel in an old stump My associate Editor Des has tried to lure it out, but thus far has had no luck.
Eight leggers are bad enough, but our woodheap has a resident colony of centipedes. I hear they have a nasty bite too , but fortunately I have no personal experience to relate.
Despite all these creepy crawlies, in my mind the worst problem in my garden is a ghastly fungi that smells like rotten flesh….charming! It grows in wood-chip mulch. Rob and I have become expert at finding them; like truffle hunters (well sort of).
They are produced from white ‘egg sacs’. You can see one emerging in the above pic, just below the top specimen. They tend to hide under shrubs, so finding them is a real art. We dig them out with their eggs and fungi threads, then put them in sealed plastic bags in the wheelie bin. Will we ever eradicate them? I have no idea.
I adore most birds and we are blessed with many. However, the giant, yellow-tailed black cockatoos cause my heart to beat faster. They have a maniacal screech, and they sit in pine trees tearing the rock hard cones apart. They tend to be clumsy and often drop whole cones; lethal if you happen to be standing underneath. They also tear the trunks of my little trees apart in search of borer grubs. Good grief!
Their cousins the Sulphur crested cockatoos are far, far worse. They eat everything in sight, then hone their beaks after lunch by pruning timber decks and window sills.
Oh and I forgot about furry fiends, as in foxes. They gobble up my Wongas and decapitate my dear little possums!! The latter crime would break Dame Edna’s heart.
Hey, why don’t you come and visit me sometime? I can always do with a helping hand.
LIFE CAN BE SO UNFAIR! My partner and I own an apartment on Sydney’s North Shore. Yesterday I discovered that there is a council garden bed full of ‘rotten flesh’ fungi directly opposite our building. Can you believe it? The bed is right outside the door of a fashion boutique, and when the owner noticed the stench she organized for the council to spray the fungi. Mark my works, they won’t get rid of them that easily!
UPDATE TW0 – We did get rid of our foul fungi. Simple really, we just stopped putting woodchips on the garden beds. They are now only used on woodland garden paths.
My cheeky associate Editor Des has written his own story about my mountains garden. Just click HERE
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