Look First

This cute green snake didn’t find rose thorns a problem, as it wrapped itself on a stem.

I had been picking off some diseased leaves when I noticed the snake, that was well blended in with the stem of the climbing rose.  It was very happy to stay still for some photos.


Rainy Day

We have had several days of rain in the area and today was our big day.  So far we have had about 3 inches, but other parts of the city received at least 8 inches.  I went out to clear a clog.

We have a French drain that carries the rainwater across the yard, down a drain to a pipe and out to the street.  It doesn’t take much to clog it.

The birds were hungry on this wet day and while I was taking care of them, I noticed how pretty my gingers were glistening with rain.  The gingers are Hedychium coccineum.


Oxalis

The Automatic Garden always provides new plants, just not where I necessarily want them.  I found these Purple Oxalis Triangularis growing in the lawn that had somehow survived many mowings.

The closest Purple Oxalis is growing in pots on the back porch.  It is yet another plant mystery of how they ended up quite far from the pots.

I transplanted the newly found Oxalis to the colony that I started in the wooded area.  They don’t look so happy now, but the Purple Oxalis bloomed nicely in the early spring.  I have the plants protected by broken pots and bricks, as an armadillo has been plowing them up.  When the roots get a good grip or the armadillo moves, I’ll remove the barriers.


Snakes of the Good Kind and One Bad Kind

Spring brings many critters to the garden, which includes snakes.  I probably see more snakes in the Spring than any other time. I found a juvenile Rat Snake in the warm stones in the front yard. They eat rodents, lizards or toads, but will climb trees to eat eggs from bird nests.  I can always tell when the birds spot a Rat Snake, as they all gather and scream at it. This snake is not venomous to humans, but could bite and pass disease.

These two Ribbon Snakes have paired up for the season.  The large one has recently had a feeding. I came across her a few days later and got an eyeful of what exactly she likes to eat.  I’m not posting that photo.  These snakes are also called garden or green snakes. They are not venomous and eat garden pests.

And now the snake of the bad kind.  This is a Copperhead and helps by eating bugs and rodents, but is venomous to humans. Most people live after being bit.  This young snake was curled up in my planter. A reminder to look first. I have also found Copperheads to be mostly chill and like to watch whatever I’m doing.

(Sorry about the quality of these photos, as they were snapped quickly with my phone.)

Before I got around to posting this, the young Copperhead (I think it is the same one) decided to visit the back porch.  Naturally, it found a nice corner near the door my husband would be coming through soon. My husband, who is not into nature as much as I am, always has these snake encounters and this is the second time one waited for him at the garage door.

Copperheads have a very distinctive  Hershey Kiss pattern on their skin.

My tip for making snakes move without hurting them is to gently hose them with water or even throwing bowls of water on them.  Unfortunately, this youngster was a bit clueless, as many young are, and came towards me instead of away when I threw water on it.


Revealed

Two plants popped up in my small patio bed.  I wasn’t totally sure what they were so I let them grow out to reveal themselves.  I thought they might be weeds, Gulf Coast Penstemon or Cardinal Flower.  Once the plants grew to around 4 inches, it became clear they were Cardinal Flowers, which was my last guess.  I promptly dug them up and transplanted the pair to a better location.

More than once, I have mistook weeds for a wanted plant and let them grow.  And yes, there is a mix of weeds and seedlings in that bed.  I am waiting for them tell me what they are.


Attentive Gardening

With rain, you get Rain Lilies and this year’s display was spectacular. The couple of bulbs I bought years ago that just sat around doing nothing, have come alive and planted themselves all over the yard. (click on a photo for slideshow)

Aristolochia fimbriata, is the third kind of Dutchman’s Pipe that I grow.  It has tiny flowers and the nurseryman said it would attract butterflies.  I’ll wait and see.

I had to add another photo of the spiral ginger.  The flower is hidden behind the leaves and I enjoy peeking in everyday to see its progress.

My sweet little Peter Pan Agapnathus has made several flower heads this year.

 

After two years of hard winters, the Shell Ginger finally bloomed.

The African Blood Lily has done extremely well and seems to like our gumbo soil.  It makes huge blooms every year and has even multiplied. A mild winter and an attentive gardener (me staying home) has resulted in a late Spring full of blooms.


Americana on the Road

Added Note – I have been putting this post together for awhile and with current events canceling plans, this has become memories of road trips from the past and anticipation of future trips to come. 

I usually don’t blog about anything other than gardening, but I came across some interesting things while traveling back and forth across the country the last few years. I thought I would combine them into a post.

At the airport, someone had lent President Bush a hat for the hot sunny day ahead.

On a marble pedestal under the exit sign and fire alarm,  Ben was watching the comings and goings at the restrooms.

(Ben Franklin was an American founding father)

At a highway rest stop we found an entire passenger train car.  The rest stop workers were not happy with a train taking up all the spaces and sent them on their way.

What? Apparently it was once high tech.

Yes, pay phones exist.

In Mississippi someone just got tired of being asked “Where are we?”.

There are no photos to go with these experiences, but at another rest stop in Tennessee an older gentleman was playing guitar and singing.  At a hotel in the same state, the young woman that set up the buffet was singing hymns in a crystal clear voice.

 

A classic American Fourth of July day ended on a village green with The Repasz Band playing patriotic songs. The band  is the oldest continuous band in America and also played at the surrender at Appomattox.

I can image that a rest stop worker lovingly made this pergola and added the sign to the bench.  Potted flowers reflected the season.

The bench faced a tree of handmade birdhouses.

The porta pots were at the very, very far end of the parking lot. It could be quite a cold experience in the winter.

This turnpike rest stop really went all out with the decorations.  I know for a fact that the tabletop trees were used in other years.  Empty Cinnabon boxes and Coke ads finished off the decor.

Decorations also included a large Santa and tree.  It was all really festive for the weary traveler.

So far this year, we had to cancel three road trips and a flight. A family wedding and graduation had to be missed.  Hopefully before long, we will all be able to follow the road to the rainbow’s end.


Angel Trumpet

The Angel Trumpet, Burgmansia, has put on quite the show this Spring.  It has made at least 50 flowers.

It went for years without blooming and recently started making a few flowers in the Fall.  I am hoping it will now bloom on and off throughout the season.

For more information about Angel Trumpets check out this previous post.


After the Rains

The Spiral Ginger, Costus barbatus, looked luscious in the morning after an overnight storm.  The rain made the red flower shine.

The Spiral Ginger has not bloomed in awhile, so it was nice to see two of them blooming.  I tried to get a photo showing how the leaves form around the stem in a spiral.

As long as I was taking pictures, I checked out some other bloomers.  The Black Eyed Susan pops up in different locations around the yard.  This one is self-sowed.

The Salvia coccinea also reseeds on its own and is loaded with flowers to the delight of pollinators and hummingbirds.

I was surprised to see the Hyacinth Bean had suddenly flowered.

Another surprise was finding a Resurrection Lily Ginger, Kaempferia rotunda, had bloomed.  The flower comes before the leaves.  It is a pretty little thing.

 

Cuphea ignata which is commonly called Cigar plant has been blooming profusely and is a hummingbird favorite.  I saw that this  plant sold is as an annual up north where it does not get very big with the short growing season.  Mine is a perennial and grows nearly 5 feet tall and spreads easily to make new plants.

The Gardenia is so heavy with delicious scented flowers, it is bent to the ground.

And now a garden mystery, which I love.  I found my Pink Polka Dot plants growing nearly 30 feet from where they were planted.  How did they get there?  Something to ponder.  Of course, I love a volunteer and they will be moved back to the original bed.


Teenage Turtle

My husband alerted me to a turtle heading down the driveway towards the street.  Not a good plan. I ran out in my PJ’s to perform a turtle rescue.

This Box Turtle is bigger than the last little turtle I found, but not quite full grown.  My kids joked that it was a Teenage Mutant Turtle, like the cartoon.  I moved the turtle to the backyard and pointed it away from the street and said a another turtle prayer for a safe life.