When people came from the other side of the world to New Zealand they brought with them things from home. Not just personal possessions, but plants and animals too. In the last couple of hundred years those introduced species have wrought havoc on the landscape.
Cats, rats, rabbits and possums are notorious for killing birds, or destroying the trees the birds need to thrive. Meanwhile gorse, broom and blackberry spread almost uncontrollably. Our local Council had this to say about Broom in a recent newsletter:
Broom is capable of infesting many areas of our Region. It utilises nitrogen from the air to grow vigorously in places our native plants take a lot longer to grow, hence it transforms some of our unique and fragile habitats like the Desert Road. It can also dominate farmland, roadsides and forestry.
At our beach property we don’t have any broom, but there’s plenty of gorse and blackberry. For the last 18 months I’ve been trying to get rid of both. I seem to have done a fair job with the gorse but today when I was checking some flax I planted a couple of months ago I spotted new blackberry growth all over the place.
With all their prickles both gorse and blackberry are a pain to remove, though I think blackberry’s worse. The long canes tangle up in clothing, and if it stabs you it really hurts. I try to dig both out, but blackberry manages to run underground and if the canes touch ground they seem to dig in.
It’s so frustrating to start pulling up one bit of blackberry, and then see another, and another, and another. At some point you have to concede the day. My motto has become:
there’s always more blackberry.
Our bach is built on what is effectively a sand dune, and the building process exposed a lot of sand. In all these spring gales that causes problems with blowing sand, and we need to revegetate quickly. Luckily grass and bracken are coming back on their own.
Meanwhile it’s baby rabbit season and there are rabbit scrapes all over the place. The other day I spotted a stoat looping through the grass. They were introduced in the 1800s to control rabbits, but of course have become a menace themselves, killing our native birds. Here’s hoping one of the many hawks round here will help control the stoats and feast on some of those (very cute) baby rabbits.