This means war! Or at least a humanitarian mission with military elements.
Just when you’ve been lulled into a false sense of security by their generous assistance with your passive solar, suddenly the bowerbirds turn against you. One minute they’re giving the liquidambar a light trim, the next they’ve descended on your mulberry tree and stripped it bare.
Mulberries are perfect backyard trees. They’re easy to grow, fruit without chilly weather, and produce berries in spring before the fruitfly really get into gear. Kids love to eat them: the Halloween themed blood-stained hands afterwards are a bonus. You can feed them to silkworms which sorts out any number of school projects (and if you’re that kind of person you can weave your own scarves or caftans). Chooks happily clean up the spoil. And you never ever see mulberries in the shops – when they’re ripe they’re so soft and juicy they’re unshippable. You have to eat them warm, straight off the tree.
And if that’s not enough, they also make a great spot for a diamond python’s mid-morning nap.
There’s not much you can do wrong with mulberries, or so they say. You’ve gotta love trees about which it can honestly be said: “you cannot kill them”. You have to prune them for new growth and berries, but hacking randomly does seem to more or less work, though the outcome might be described less as “a classic open-centred vase shape” and more as “an ugly mess”.
The only bit of advice that people regularly give about mulberry trees is to avoid planting them near paths “to avoid stains”. Given the chaotic state of our garden, I smiled smugly at this. And then planted mine right next to the washing line. Oops.
I know, I know, my Hick’s Fancy should have been netted against the birds (given that they can be weedy, this is probably a good idea for ecological as well as harvest-maximising reasons). But the bowerbirds haven’t stopped at the mulberry. They’ve also had a good go at the grapes up the granny flat wall and the kiwifruit vines on the “solar pergola”. Exclusion netting is all very well but short of getting a great big net dropped from a helicopter to drape over the whole house and yard, there’s only so much you can do. Thinking about it, that actually sounds like a lot of fun. All I need is some air support.