In spite of it all

The other day as I raced into a southern storm I glimpsed a shrub defeating a power pole possum barrier – but the weather was too horrible to stop. Today we had more time but even driving both ways slowly we only found it at the last, almost back to the Glenham floodplain.


Australian brushtail possums are a very destructive Australian pest here. Their charming traits include climbing power poles and getting electrocuted – and shorting out the system. As a result utilities wrap the upper pole with an aluminium band to stop the creatures from getting to the top. It is fascinating though to see a plant bridging the gap.


This Pohuehue or Muehlenbeckia complexa was exploiting the flat open areas under the curved sheet barrier to climb ever upwards – given time it will do the job of the possum and electrocute itself! Nature has more time than us and will always defeat us in spite of anything we do.


New Zealand has five Muehlenbeckia species (groundcover, shrub and climbing forms) and I use two of them in landscapes; M. astonii and M. axilaris for their beauty and usefulness, they are also very attractive to insects, which in turn helps attract birdlife to the garden. M. complexa is really a bit too much of a thug in the garden!



5 thoughts on “In spite of it all

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  1. We need to wrap redwood tree trunks with smooth sheet metal, in such a manner that the trees can still expand. It is more practical than removing the huge trees that are too close to utility cables. It looks shabby in the trees but it is better than removing the trees, and easier than getting the utility poles moved.

  2. Fascinating observations, Nigel. I was particularly struck by your words that “Nature has more time than us and will always defeat us in spite of anything we do.” Most of the time we tend to think with a short term perspective, about quick solutions and immediate gratification. Looking out five years seems like long-term planning and a decade an eternity. Nature indeed has its own sense of time, measured in decades, centuries, and millennia.

    1. Thanks Mike. Re nature defeating human plans I have a photo category called ‘5th column plants’, plants running guerrilla operations of their own, growing atop walls, across asphalt, along pipe ducts and in bridge expansion joints. These exploit points are normally where nutrients are highest and disturbance lowest; mere inches away the situation is impossible.

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