Critters in the Garden
May 18, 2015|Posted in: Welcome to My Garden!
One day a few years ago, I found a water snake in my garden pond. It just happened to be about two weeks after my teenage son Mike lost his pet corn snake in our house. It was such a surprise! At first I thought it was my son’s snake (we never did find that one) but upon closer examination I realized it wasn’t. I ran inside all excited and rallied my husband and sons outside to witness the surprise visitor to my pond.
After some discussion as to what we should do about our uninvited guest we decided to catch it and release it in a nearby creek. Mike went to work wrangling the snake. It didn’t go peacefully though. It opened its wide mouth, with its big fangs and hissed fiercely! It was awesome!! Eventually he caught the snake and we successfully released it in the creek.
That snake was the most exciting critter that ever visited my garden but there have been many others. Of course birds visit on a daily basis, sparrows, robins, magpie, hummingbirds and some tiny little grey birds with yellow and red heads. Robbins routinely splash in the birdbath or stop at the pond for a drink of water. Hummingbirds flit quickly around drinking nectar from the brightly colored flowers I planted just to entice them to visit my garden. Once a young hawk perched on the railing of my deck. He looked funny with his still fluffy baby bird feathers and I had to search Internet photos of young hawks to be sure that was what he was.
Then there are the friendly critters of the insect variety. Of course the bees buzz about pollinating the plants so the flowers will bloom and the fruit will grow in abundance. Beautiful butterflies flutter through the air, alighting momentarily on a bright blossom before taking to the air again. There is an occasional katydid cleverly disguised as a leaf or a distinguished praying mantis slowly moving it’s head and eyes around so as not to miss any unsuspecting prey. We once found a walking stick in my daddy’s garden. He was one cool bug! Earthworms wiggle through the soil of my garden helping to make it more fertile and rolly pollys crawl in every direction.
At the beginning of the summer my three year old grandson Blake was afraid of bugs so I caught a rollie pollie and let him watch it crawl on my hand. After a while and a lot of coaxing he let it crawl on his hand too. Now he plays with them all the time. One day I took his picture proudly holding one. His little two year old playmate wanted me to take her picture too. She held up a fist and smiled at the camera. I told her to open her hand so we could see the rolly polly. As she unclenched her chubby little fist a whole handful of the squirmy little black bugs crawled in circles and spilled from her hand. Ewwww! That little lady was unafraid!
I’ve caught more than one neighborhood cat sneaking a drink from my pond. While some might find them a nuisance I have a soft spot for kitties and I even quit putting the algae treatment in the pond’s water so my little feline friends wouldn’t be inadvertently poisoned.
My garden is a friendly place with all of those critters coming and going. I enjoy watching all of the different kinds of wildlife. Oftentimes I try to take their pictures, though they are not always willing subjects and try to fly, wiggle or crawl away. I’ve been know to post a picture or two of my friends on social media and many fellow wildlife enthusiasts and gardeners reply in approval.
There are a few critters though that it seems I’m not allowed to like. I have posted pictures of grub worms, grasshoppers and snails. I was delighted the first time I saw a snail in my garden, a slimy fellow with funny little antennae and a big shell. When I found the fat little green grub worms I hoped that they would turn into exotic butterflies (though sadly they were only moths). Hoppers are my favorite! My cousin Charlie and I would catch them all summer long as kids, building them homes in glass jars and feeding them blades of grass. I recently shared the fun of catching hoppers with my young grandson! It brought back memories!
But sadly, when I post pictures of these critter friends of mine, insects of the pest variety, they elicit negative (sometimes even angry and almost violent) comments from my friends. They say things like, “get rid of them!” “they will eat all your plants!” or even, “kill them, light them on fire & kill them!”
It seems I may be demoted from my ammeter gardener status if I continue to count these critters as friends. At the very least I will be laughed at and ridiculed by my gardener friends. So there will be no more posts featuring these pesky critters. But when I run into them in my garden I may secretly continue to say “hello.”