A Snake, Some Flowers and a Long Overdue Tour of the Garden

You know your garden is a haven for wildlife when you can spot at least 20 species of animals in a five minute walk. I counted five speies of butterflies, one baby garter snake, about five bees and wasps, a couple dragonflies, three species of lizards, countless birds flitting about, and an uncertain number of mosquitoes. I was too busy swatting them or trying to ignore them to even attempt a decent ID. The garden may be suffering through a drought, but the animals and blooms don't seem to notice.

The garden is coming along nicely. Trees are finally starting to look like trees, groundcovers are filling in the gaps and the animal life is really starting to take hold. While our drought has been nowhere near as extensive as the one plaguing my friends Jenny, David and Pam in Texas, it has been a rather slow year for the gingers and alocasias. As you can see, the grass is pretty parched too. When I own my own home, I'll be replacing the grass with groundcovers for a lawn that looks great even in the worst droughts.

The passionflower vines have found a healthy balance between devouring the garden and being devoured by caterpillars. I have to say, those passionflowers have really grown on me despite their rampant growth. Every glance out the back door yields an eyeful of butterflies circling the vine covered fence to seek nectar and lay eggs. I've also been finding a lot of gulf fritillary cocoons all over the garden and patio, so more are on the way.

The milkweeds are visited by doting monarchs, while various swallowtails and sulphur butterflies have a refreshing drink of nectar at every flower in sight. Hummingbirds have to contend with the flocks of butterflies for their own turn at the incredible multitude of bottlebrush and firespike blooms! There are plenty flowers for everyone, luckily.

This baby garter snake was a nice little surprise! He let me get unreasonably close for comfort just so I could get some photographs, and he then slinked around the garden for the remainder of the afternoon. Isn't it cute?

As always, lizards were everywhere. They were climbing the (incredibly fast growing) orchid tree, jumping from the bottlebrush trees onto the gingers, and just meandering about the garden everywhere I looked. This green anole is still brown because it just leaped from a branch to this clump of Neoregelia cruenta and hadn't found the time to change color yet. It seems that the more lushly planted a garden is, the more native green anoles you find. Invasive Cuban brown anoles tend to like the hot sidewalks and mulch beds.

My other bromeliads are also faring well, thanks to their ability to hold a reserve of water in their tanks. They're great plants for dry shade as long as the cups are periodically filled with fresh water. One thing to look out for in dry times like these is vase rot. The water can easily become stagnant after sitting in the cups too long, and before too long you might discover the center leaves begin to rot with a smell akin to death. If you catch the vase rot soon enough, you might be able to save the plant as long as you remove the center leaves and thoroughly rinse out the plant with a nozzle. Allow the bromeliad to dry out, refill with water, and place away from the other bromeliads in a quarantined spot to prevent the vase rot from infecting others.

How have your gardens been faring lately? If you have a blog, please leave a link so I can look for myself!


  1. Love,love,love your yard!! Just beautiful!! And I
    love all your wildlife that your awesome plants bring!! Woo Hoo!! I so love Florida and wish I could live there!! I give your yard a 'BIG' thumbs up!! :))

  2. It is definitely an added joy to find various animals enjoying the garden. Your yard's landscaping is very nice and as you said, your plants don't seem to be feeling the rather dry spell. Am sure it your garden will look extra lovely as the weather improves. Thanks for sharing those lovely pics! Enjoyed them much.

  3. Don't you love going out into the garden and seeing all the flying, flitting and even slithering going on? It's nice to see how your garden has matured and filled in over time. The firespike is the best hummingbird attractor in my garden. I love this time of year when they are blooming.

  4. Wow! A garter snake. That is so cool. Not a lot of wildlife in my potted garden. Just a lot of stray cats. :(


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