Pesky possums*

* Warning: alliteration ahead!

Pesky possums have been a part of life in Melbourne for as long as I can remember. I grew up in a house next to a park, so we always had possums playing. They loved to chase each other around the roof, sounding like marauding hordes. Then there is the unholy scream they make, enough to chill your bones.

I well remember one time when we were woken by our dog, Galahad barking on the front verandah. We had long ago dropped the “Sir” from his name, as he did not live up to his gentle, ethereal namesake. So image our surprise to find that a baby possum had ousted Galahad from the door mat and was keeping this big dog at bay. I felt sorry for this wee, frightened creature and went to pick it up. My reward was a bite on my finger, and later a tetanus injection that hurt more than the bite! From memory the possum scampered off, and probably grew up to be one of the marauding hordes on the roof.

Then I moved to my own house and I would listen smugly to gardening shows where there were inevitably complaints about possums.

“The possums have eaten all my rosebuds. What can I do?”

“The possums eat the rind off the lemons and leave the fruit to rot. What can I do?”

“The possums…..” “The possums….”

I say smugly because I didn’t have pesky possums. My roses and lemon tree had many other problems, but not possum problems. However, the Gardening Gods do not like smug gardeners…….and you know where I am going with this……..

Yep, I have possums, pesky possums.

My pesky possums are not pilfering the roses or the lemons (and that is not smugness ~ just give them time!). No they are plundering the vine.  And this is a problem because it is one of our main forms of summer cooling.

You may remember me talking about the vine before. We have ceiling fans rather than air conditioning, and rely on the vine to cover and shade the eastern side of the house. It’s been a great system as the morning sun doesn’t get a chance to beat into the house. But now the possums have come to play, and they just love to nibble the new shoots of the vine down to little nubs.

The weather has been hot this November ~ 36º today. We seem to have gone straight from the cold of Winter to the heat of Summer, without Spring in between. We are missing the covering of the vine.

So, I am trying to out-fox the pesky possums. Surely with some human ingenuity and the rampant growth of the vine I can get the tendrils up the wires. My thoughts are that if I can overwhelm the possums with young shoots some of them will sneak past and take hold. Armed with a ball of string and a rake I have been tying and training, trying to keep the young shoots away from places where the possums can reach out to take a nibble.

This is the state of the vine:

If you look hard you can see the string amongst the tangle of tendrils.

At the moment I think it is nil all, but it’s only half-time! And a long hot Summer ahead of us. I will let you know the final score!

Other gardening news….

It is time for the jacarandas to flower. Again I have written about them before.

I have had a delightful volunteer in the front garden, in among the onions!

A red poppy was a delightful surprise, and I wonder where she came from.

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11 thoughts on “Pesky possums*

  1. Have you tried baiting another part of the garden with fruit? I did that in Melbourne when I was tired of them climbing into my roof space and romping around noisily and doing their business so the ceilings became stained. They seemed to enjoy apples and celery on the bird table. And I’m wondering if you could protect the vines with netting somehow?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They are both really good ideas, Kate. Thank you. I have vaguely considered netting before, but wonder about the vine tendrils getting enmeshed in it. Maybe shade cloth would be better. The apples are a great idea and certainly an easy one to try.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. When we lived in Lower Templestowe, the possums used to have territorial wars on the flat tin roofs. Here we have mostly steep tin roofs and no trees directly near the house [because of bushfire danger], but somehow the still get up there. Not as many, it’s true, but I think that’s just because they’re too busy stripping my fruit trees before the fruit even has a chance to ripen. pesky indeed….

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    1. They are determined little critters and seem to be able to get to unexpected places. Perhaps I should plant a sacrificial fruit tree. It may not solve this summer’s problem though!

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  3. wrap the uprights a bit up from the base with galvanised metal strip – quite wide if possible, so they can’t get a foothold on the upright to get to the vine. That is what they do here in NZ, particularly with wooden power poles… of course that’s not going to work if they are coming off the roof to the vines…

    here in NZ they are our #1 pest, destroying much greenery and of course attacking the citrus as well…they are not protected here, as they are in Aussie because of their status of severe destruction – a ran over possum on the road is a good thing! They didn’t used to be in the cities but that has changed….

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    1. I have heard that that the possum problem in NZ is very bad….and that they came from Australia. It beats me people why think it is a good idea to release animals into a new country. We have rabbits and sparrows and all sorts of pests because the British settlers wanted to feel at home! As for cane toads……

      Thanks for the advice about the metal strips. The problem I have is that they come along the fence to have their feast. I need some sort of vertical barrier. Hmmm, that’s got me thinking. Thanks.

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  4. Anne, your garden is gorgeous. What a brilliant red poppy, not to mention a wonderful surprise. I love Jacaranda trees. They were everywhere when we visited Argentina. We tried growing one ourselves (they do grow in San Jose), but the first year the tree suffered from an unexpected frost and it never fully recovered.

    If I’m not mistaken, your Australian possums are a different lot than ours. We see them along the fence line at dusk, but they don’t seem interested in the garden (unlike the squirrels). It seems you’ve received many good suggestions to protect those tiny shoots. Best of luck.

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    1. I love the jacarandas. The petals lay on the ground like purple rain. And they flower in December, so they are a reminder of things to come like Christmas and Summer holidays. Wasn’t the poppy a lovely, unexpected volunteer? The flowers have stopped now, but the seed heads are drying out very nicely. Soon I will have the cases to draw and the seeds to plant next year.

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    1. That website was amazing. I spent way too long wandering through it, and could have spent even longer! There is something appealing about reading about my own country through another’s eyes ~ if their experience is positive, that is. If it is negative it just makes me grumpy. 😉

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