Snake Alert

“Snake Alert”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana

I don’t know what is happening lately, but I just am so busy that I can’t blog as much as I want to. I use this blog as a way of keeping a record of what is happening in my garden, so I really do want to post more regularly. I used to be able to write a post everyday, but now, life is getting very complicated.

So, let me catch up a little with what has been going on around here. This morning, after my coffee, I went upstairs to get dressed and what was on my bedroom curtains – a large lizard. Now, I do like to see lizards around the garden but definitely not in the bedroom. As I went to find dear hubby so he could remove said lizard, I passed by my little button fern and immediately noticed something strange. On closer inspection, I realized it was a snake skin.

 

 

This is the first time we have ever seen a snake skin around, and I am not too thrilled it was so close to the house. It must be from this little fellow we saw earlier in the summer.

 

Snakes are very beneficial to the garden. They eat insects and rodents. I have read that they can really do a number on grasshoppers. I wonder if that is why I am not seeing as many lubbers as I used to. The snakes do this work without damaging the garden. Garter snakes are supposed to eat slugs, and anything that eats slugs can’t be all bad.

In general, you have nothing to fear from snakes. This is especially true if you live in the United States. Only four species of snakes are dangerous in The United States. They are the copperhead, the rattlesnake (several species) the cottonmouth, and the coral snake. Now these are the ones you need to avoid and not invite into your garden.

If you see a snake in your garden, remember they are keeping the grasshopper, cricket, mice, moles and other critter populations down, making for a nicer garden. They want nothing to do with you. Try to overcome your fears and enjoy the benefits the snakes are providing.

Now, as for me I don’t mind an occasional snake in my garden as long as I don’t see it.

New Garden Flag and Oil Spill

“New Garden Flag and Oil Spill”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana

Looks like there might be a problem with capping the oil well in the Gulf. It has been reported that there is some seepage of oil near the well head. Everyone around here is hoping that the cap won’t have to be opened to relieve pressure thereby sending more oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

After Hurricane Katrina, there were garden flags sold that encouraged people to return to the New Orleans area and restore Louisiana. The fleur dis lis on these flags became the symbol for hurricane recovery. The oil spill has spurred the same commitment, and flags have started showing up. I am sure you have seen the photos of the oily pelicans; the pelican has now become the symbol of Gulf Restoration. I bought my flag last week which touts Gulf Restoration. A portion of the proceeds of the purchase price will go to the Audubon Institute’s Bird Rehabilitation Project.

 

 

Please pray that this well cap holds until the relief well is finished, and the well is finally capped. Then, we can begin to clean up this mess and begin to heal people’s lives.

NBC Nightly News did a heartbreaking story on the many Gulf Coast pets that have had to be surrendered to animal shelters because their owners can no longer afford to care for them. You can see it here. It shows that it is not only the wildlife like pelicans, turtles, and dolphins that have been hurt by this disaster.

I found this prayer for the Gulf on the internet and wanted to share it with you.

Ocean Lament

We hold in prayer and lament this day
the terrible suffering of all life-forms in the Gulf of Mexico.
We grieve the profound marring of your creation,
and the threat to coastal ways of life.
Have mercy o God, have mercy.
Grant wisdom and perseverance
to all who struggle to contain this disaster.
Let those who lost their lives rest in peace.
And send out your Holy Spirit,
to create anew the face of this earth.

composed by Teresa Berger

The coastline of the Gulf of Mexico is not Louisiana’s coast, or Texas’s coast, or Mississippi’s, or Alabama’s. It is America’s coast, and belongs to everyone. Everyone needs to demand that this area be restored.

Narrow Fellow

“Narrow Fellow”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana

Ever since we have moved here many years ago, from time to time, I have seen black snakes in the lawn or garden. Sometimes they are fairly large, but mostly they are small, young snakes. The first few times I saw these, I freaked, but now, while I am usually startled, I don’t run the opposite way. This year, however, there is a small, black snake that has taken a liking to my garden. I have seen him several times, in many different areas of the garden. It usually doesn’t stay around but slithers off to more secluded areas. Yesterday, when I saw it sunning itself on an amaryllis leaf, probably trying to dry off, I called dear hubby to see it, and he took a quick photo.

 

 

Whenever I see a snake in the garden, I am always reminded of one of my favorite Emily Dickinson poems.

A Narrow Fellow in the Grass

A narrow fellow in the grass
Occasionally rides;
You may have met him,–did you not,
His notice sudden is.

The grass divides as with a comb,
A spotted shaft is seen;
And then it closes at your feet
And opens further on.

He likes a boggy acre,
A floor too cool for corn.
Yet when a child, and barefoot,
I more than once, at morn,

Have passed, I thought, a whip-lash
Unbraiding in the sun,–
When, stooping to secure it,
It wrinkled, and was gone.

Several of nature’s people
I know, and they know me;
I feel for them a transport
Of cordiality;

But never met this fellow,
Attended or alone,
Without a tighter breathing,
And zero at the bone.

I know that tighter breathing.

A Little Visitor

“A Little Visitor”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana

With what is going on right now in the Gulf of Mexico with that gushing oil well, wildlife, any wildlife, seems more precious. Even though I live in a subdivision, we are still have undeveloped areas around us and occasionally see wildlife in our yards. We used to see a lot more when we first moved here many years ago, but development seemed to displace our “wild” friends. Now, that neighborhood is more settled with mature trees and shrubs, we seem to be getting our wildlife back. I see a lot more box turtles and, yes, even snakes, now than I have in years. Last week we had quail in our back garden, something we haven’t seen in probably thirty years.

Last year, there was a brown rabbit that made an appearance in our back garden. We used to see rabbits all the time when we first bought our home, but gradually we saw them less and less. Last week I twice disturbed something while watering the garden in the early morning, but it was too fast for me to make out what it was. I now think I have solved that mystery.

 

 

Yes, a little brown rabbit must be living nearby. I have seen it mostly near the area where my neighbor has let underbrush develop between our properties. There used to be possums living under their garden shed, but we have trapped and relocated those, so maybe the rabbit has moved into the old burrows. Who knows? I am just glad to see that our area has become hospitable to not only birds, turtles, quail, but now a rabbit. The snake, now, is another matter. I am not so sure that is as welcomed a little visitor.

A Garden Visitor

“A Garden Visitor”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 

 

When we first moved to our home we used to see brown rabbits all the time.  At that time there were several undeveloped lots around us, but gradually homes were built on them as well as on nearby wooded areas, and the rabbits stopped showing up.  It has been years since we have had any of these little brown visitors, but the other day while looking out the kitchen window, my hubby called to me, “Come here!  Quick!”

There, at the base of one of our bird feeders was a small brown rabbit.  He stayed around for a time and then hopped away.  We don’t know where he came from or where he went.  The next door neighbors have let an area grow up with a lot of vegetation, but that is an island in the middle of well-kept lawns and gardens, but maybe it is enough for a rabbit to find sanctuary.

 

Rabbit in Bkyrd, p.02, ed.

 

I haven’t seen any evidence of rabbit destruction of my plants, though I never saw any before when we had two or three rabbits around.  Maybe I don’t grow plants rabbits find tasty.  It is nice to see some wildlife returning to this area.  We have a ton of birds visiting our feeders and bird baths.  Occasionally, we see a raccoon or possum, and earlier this spring a deer came through, which was a first for the neighborhood.  I sure hope this doesn’t mean that development has forced these animals to move from the woods to our subdivisions.  While I do enjoy seeing these creatures, and dear hubby loves taking their pictures, I also want them to have a natural habitat to live in, the way nature intended.

 

Rabbit in Bkyrd, p.03, ed.

Work or Sleep?

“Work or Sleep?”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 

 

We have had another day of rain.  Hallelujah!  Yesterday we received another .7 inches of much needed rain.  Not only is the rain good for the plants, it does help cool things off a bit which makes it a little more pleasant for the humans.  The rain, however hasn’t stopped the activity in the garden.  The birds, bees and butterflies are still very active even if this gardener isn’t.

 

Bee on Cash. Bouquet (redu)

 

The bees have been very busy visiting the cashmere bouquet.  I haven’t seen too many honeybees around, just bumble bees.  I mostly see the honeybees at the birdbaths during the peak of the day’s heat, but the bumble bees are out among the flowers all day long.  Such hard workers.  They love the pink vitex and the agapanthas, too.  Butterflies are all over the place now that the weather has warmed up so much.  It is so difficult to photograph them since they never are still very long.

 

Bee on Pk Vitex (redu)

 

Of course, with all the recent rain, the frogs have been singing almost constantly.  The little tree frogs are all over the place and are still staying inside any flower that will hold them. Here is one peeking out of a daylily.

 

Plum Tree Daylily w Frog (redu)

 

Not every creature in the garden is active as the bees, etc.  Rusty, the garden cat, knows how to deal with the summer heat – find a shady spot and sleep the heat away.

 

Sleeping Rusty (redu)

 

So with the rain and the heat keeping me from working in the garden, a mid day nap sounds awfully nice.

 

 

 

 

Flower Dwellers

“Flower Dwellers”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 

 

Just the other day, I saw the cutest thing, a little tree frog sitting in an Easter lily.  Can you see him in the photo below?  He’s right in the center of the flower.

 

Tree Frog in Lily (redu)

 

Another tree frog has been living in the Misty Mayhaw daylily.  Every time I walk by, he either goes farther in the flower, or if he thinks I might be threatening, he moves to be in a position to escape.

 

Tree frog on Misty Mayhaw (redu)

 

Lately, we have been seeing a great many tree frogs again.  They seemed to almost disappear about four years ago after Hurricane Katrina.  Last summer, they were back in full force.  I don’t know where they came from because, except for birdbaths, which we do empty almost daily in the summer, we have no bodies of water for these little guys  to reproduce. 

While I would not be surprised to find a little fairy sleeping in one of my flowers, after all fairies are supposed to love gardens, I am still surprised (pleasantly) to find an amphibian using my flowers as a hotel.

Look Who Showed Up

“Look Who Showed Up”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 

 

There has been warmer weather, spring flowers blooming, and now, a  sure sign winter is over, little creatures showing up.  I noticed this cute little tree frog sitting in an amaryllis’s foliage the other day.   We do not see these little guys in the winter.  In fact, I almost missed seeing him because he blended in so well with the green foliage.

 

tree-frog-redu

 

Tree frogs are native to the southeastern U.S. and spend most of their life clinging to plants (and sometimes windows) using pads at the end of their toes.  Last summer saw an increase in their population around here, and I am glad to see that they evidently survived the winter.

 

Another sign that showed winter must be over is the appearance of the baby daddy long legs or harvestmen.  These insects do not survive the winter, so when the babies show up, it is a good sign that winter’s grip is over since the eggs won’t hatch until spring.  They are not spiders but are in the Archnida class.  They molt approximately every ten days and look very different at each stage.

 

dllegs-i

 

ddlegs-nymph-redu

 

It certainly can be interesting when Mother Nature wakes up her little creatures as spring approaches.

Vexatious Arboreal Rodents

“Vexatious Arboreal Rodents”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 

 

 Annoying squirrels! 

Squirrels can be so cute with their wily antics, but other times they can be so aggravating.  We all have pretty much experienced marauding squirrels on our bird feeders.  We have had them chew through the plastic that surrounds the birdfeeder’s seed slots, and we have even had them chew the bee guards on the hummingbird feeders.  A few people report that squirrels take up residence in their attics, especially during the winter.  This year, they have chewed the new banana sprouts that are just emerging in our garden.  Goodness knows, they are getting enough of our seeds to satisfy their hunger.

Then why did they have to chew on and ruin two of my best hanging baskets?  Yesterday I noticed one of the baskets sitting on the ground under the tree instead of hanging in the tree.  As I walked over, thinking the wind must have been responsible for the basket falling, I suddenly saw that the hook part had been chewed.  I picked it up with the intention of replacing it back on the tree branch when I realized that it had been chewed so much that the hook was very weak and couldn’t support the basket.  I checked the next basket that still was in the tree and saw that it, too, had been chewed, just not as much.  These baskets were hanging on hooks, so this means the squirrels had to stretch out to chew on them.  Why?  Why would squirrels chew on plastic?

 

eaten-hanger-redu

 

I ended up throwing the worse one of the two baskets away, and moved the other one (hoping to save it).  The reason I am so annoyed by this is that I only like green hanging baskets, and they are getting hard to find.  I think the green blends in better with the plants than a bright color does.  I also like the plastic ones, because in the summer they do not dry out as fast in our heat.

I still can’t figure out why they would just chew on the plastic.  Could they be teething?

Another Sign

“Another Sign”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 

 

Another sign that spring is just about here or is already here showed up today.  As I was checking the rex begonias in the little portable green house in the back garden, I noticed what I thought at first was a mass of dead leaves.  Just as I was wondering what a ball of dead leaves would be doing in the corner, I realized it was a bird’s nest.

 

birds-nest

 

It is positioned on top of a container for Red Robin, a Rex Begonia I posted about a few days ago.  I don’t know if I should move the nest or what.  I sure don’t want Red Robin to be covered up and die since it is just starting to put out new leaves for the spring.  But, on the other hand, I can’t stand the thought of disturbing a mother bird in her new home.  I was unable to see into the nest this afternoon, but tomorrow I will try to see if anything is in there.  I think I could gently lift it up and remove the container of Red Robin and then very gingerly place the nest back in the corner.

 

I am used to the birds building nests in my hanging baskets of ferns, but this is a first time they have built in an area such as this.  I seem to remember another blogger  had a similar nest built in their garage or shed last year, but now I can’t remember who that was or how things turned out.  I’ll be sure to post the outcome of the house moving.

 

I think you would have to agree that this nest building certainly seems to be a good sign that spring is here in South Louisiana.

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