April 15, 2011

GBBD ~ Simply Astonishing!

You're probably thinking that I'm astonished by all the flowers blooming this April in my garden and you would be partially right.  My last post highlighted a lot of our spring flowers and I am delighted with them but they aren't what is causing my astonishment. 

In the last couple of days I've seen a bunch of "firsts" of the season and the sightings have left me giddy.  I've seen my first hummingbird, baby toad, damsel flies, inch worms and unfortunately, mosquitoes.  The Swallowtail butterflies have returned and laid eggs on the parsley and they've recently hatched and there are a dozen or so caterpillars



I'm amazed at the life that has returned to the garden with the return of warm weather, plentiful food and water sources. 





 The dove regularly visit the stock tank throughout the day to find refreshment.


A moment of rest on the swing will find your senses swimming in the delight of the star jasmine and gardenia.





The jasmine has filled in nicely over the last couple of years.  While walking up to the house the other day, I could smell the jasmine from the front yard!


Even the birds have an opportunity to enjoy the heady scent.


The pink guara has come into bloom this week and caught my attention.   I like the combination of  the strap-like leaves of guara and fleshy, soft leaves of lambs ear.  The silver foliage of the lambs ear contrasts nicely with the dark green/burgundy foliage of the guara. 


On the other side of the garden there was a surprise waiting; peeking through the Mexican feather grass was a fiery, red daylily.  I had forgotten that there was a red variety in the mix!  Moving them last year has really paid off.

It's a beautiful, fiery shade of red and I really like that it has a bit of yellow at the base of the flower to complement the Stella.  It was such a nice surprise!








And a couple feet behind the daylilies is the truly astonishing moment of the day...is that what I think it is?


Oh. My. Gosh.   All I can think is to recite 'red on yellow, kill a fellow' several times and then tried to calm myself enough to see if it really was red on yellow.  Yep, it is.  A coral snake!

We've lived in our house for 12 years and I've never seen a poisonous snake in our yard.  Lots of  snakes but not poisonous.  Until now.  I have to admit, I was really freaked out.  I don't like snakes.  At. All.

There may be many of you who are not frightened of snakes and the sight of a poisonous snake may be no big deal.  It's a big deal to me.  I did gather my wits and had the presence of mind to get my camera and the shovel. 


I had every intention of killing the snake but then as I calmed down and began to watch it (armed with the shovel of course), I became enthralled with it.  It's quite beautiful and it wasn't anxious at all.  It looked like it was going to hang out for a while so I hit the shovel against the fence which caused him to move along.



I came inside to do some research.  They are highly poisonous but rarely bite humans.  They feed on other snakes, birds, lizards and rodents.  I'm really glad I didn't kill it and I'm praying that we won't cross paths again.  I intend to be a lot more careful about where I stick my hands and feet in the future.


Then a couple of hours later I noticed a shadow in the grass by the Texas betony.  With all my senses heightened from the encounter with the coral snake, I wasn't sure how many more surprises I could take!

Again, I grabbed the camera and as stealthily as possibly made my way over...


It bolted and headed for the fence...


It's just the stray cat that I've occasionally heard and rarely seen.  Thank God.  It's the great circle of life out there!  Insects, birds, lizards, snakes, cats...


and DOG!

Visit May Dreams Gardens to see what's happening in other gardens around the world this month.  You never know what you might find!

44 comments:

  1. Very great post and beautiful photos !

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  2. Hi Cat, What an interesting an exciting garden you have. The coral snake is gorgeous. Such bright colors! Oh dear! I find myself reciting your rhyme.

    The stray cat seems well fed. My dog wouldn't have allowed it to be in the compound.

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  3. Your garden is looking gorgeous! What a heart racing encounter you had with the snake. I have become much more comfortable with snakes over the years. I find lots of black rat snakes in my garden which are good because they are non-venomous and actually keep the venomous snakes away. I'm glad you didn't kill the snake but absolutely have to watch the hands and feet when gardening. Your dog is just adorable!

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  4. I lived in Texas as a little girl, and part of the curriculum involved learning about water moccasins and coral snakes - how well I remember that red and yellow kill a fellow! I'm not sure I could have taken pix - you're obviously very brave! Beautiful shots of all the plants and critters in your springtime garden.

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  5. Wow, not the garden visitor you want to surprise you! Though he was probably drawn in by all your beautiful blooms and jasmine-scented yard, right? Those daylilies look great in front of the statue.

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  6. Cat: Quite the exciting day! Your garden is looking lovely!

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  7. What an exciting morning! I immediately started reciting the "red next to yellow" saying too, but since I have a tendency to rearrange those two-part sayings in my head ("if you fall forward, spring back" makes as much sense as "fall back, spring forward" to me) I really have to think about them for a while.

    I've been trying to attract snakes to my yard for years, and I never considered that I might actually attract a venomous one! Walking and working around the plants would be much less relaxing for a while, that's for sure!

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  8. I think you were very fortunate to see such a sighting of the coral snake. I have seen two in my gardens in 16 years. I let them be, but our neighbor took the shovel to one last year. He was afraid his dog would get bitten. I still don't always wear my gardening gloves- how about you? Your garden looks like a pleasure to be in and you photograph it a beautifully as ever.

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  9. I did not know you had coral snakes in Texas. Last one I saw was in Costa Rica, though tiny, it still freaked me out. At least they bring color to the garden.

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  10. My dear friend, you have such a beautiful garden... so neat, so pretty... it is a joy to see your wonderful pics too... have never seen a coral snake before... we do have poisonous snakes here too, but not as colorful as the coral snake... but sorry Cat, I have a feeling that you will cross paths with the snake again... reason? it probably likes your pretty garden (like me)... ;)

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  11. I'm not sure what's more stunning, the day lilies, the gaura, or the wildlife - particularly the Coral snake! Though I would be a tad nervous wandering around the garden in bare feet knowing he might be around... Happy GBBD,and congrats on having created a fragrant oasis for wildlife of all sorts!

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  12. How peaceful and calming and restful your lush garden looks.... until the coral snake pictures. Yikes. At least he advertises himself with that gorgeous coloring. It's such a contrast of nature: beauty and danger, all in your own little corner of the world!

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  13. Your garden is lovely...and, I am inspired to finish my stock tank pond. It's been empty too long! The coral snake would get my attention, too. I assume there will be no open toed shoes from now on! gail

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  14. Great post! LOVE your photos and I'm so glad that you didn't kill the snake. I've done the same thing with Black Widow spiders.. If they are around the house I'll kill them, but it they're farther away I just shoot them with my camera!

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  15. Thank you Isabella!

    Hi One, Lots for that kitty to eat around here! Blitz wasn't in the yard at the time of the sighting...he would have protected his territory ;)

    Hi Karin, Comforting to know that the rat snakes keep the poisonous snakes away! I guess I've become more comfortable too without realizing it...as I didn't run for Dallas when I saw it!

    Thanks for visiting Gardeningasylum. Yeah, that little rhyme came in handy yesterday! I wouldn't say I'm brave more like I just became captivated and couldn't resist photographing those gorgeous colors! Really hope I don't see him again though.

    Thanks Amy! Loving the daylilies for a change instead of bemoaning the fact that they wouldn't bloom!

    Hi Chris, thank you! Hopefully no snake excitement today!

    Hi Alan, For the 'red on yellow' rhyme, all I concentrate on is the first half so I would have it clearly memorized if I ever saw one! Oh my beating heart, be still!

    Adding the fountain and stock tank pond to my yard really completed the necessary ingredients for wildlife and boy did it ever show up!

    Jenny, Congratulations on your recent blog award...it was a gorgeous write up! Many friends were a bit chagrined that I didn't kill it...just couldn't bring myself to do it and glad I didn't. No, I'm not religious about wearing gloves but will be now!

    Hi Donna, The snake was bigger than I would have liked! It was about 30" long and an inch around. But he was so pretty.

    Thank you Lrong, your words are always so kind. My friend said the same thing. She asked if you had a choice between the desert and Eden, what would you choose?! Ha! Y'all are funny ;)

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  16. I keep seeing all these tank ponds on the austin blogs. I will be adding one to the garden. How do you guys keep the algae under control?

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  17. Hi Cat, So many pretty pictures. I can't believe you have dayliies in bloom already!! Your garden is simply light years ahead of mine ( which seems to be dragging its feet). I do not dislike of snakes, but I would have been very afraid of your striped visitor! I look forward to lots of butterfly pictures in the weeks to come. Have a great weekend.

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  18. The snake would have totally freaked me out! I am terrified of them. Even the non-poisonous snakes.

    We have many of the same things growing in our gardens - Star Jasmine, pink Gaura, Gardenias ... and I'm in love with your Mexican feather grass ... I have to try to get some of that! What a beautiful accent planting that is!

    Your garden is looking exquisite! Love, love it! (excluding the snake ...)

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  19. Those last two terrorists in your garden caused me to laugh out loud. Isn't it interesting that once a gardener and educated on snakes, our curiosity is stronger than our terror and we run away for the camera, not screaming?

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  20. Yours is one of the blogs i take inspiration from specially in photographs. The depth, the macros, the angles, light everything is just perfect. Happy bloom day.

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  21. I am sure that was somewhat of a fright--your encounter with the coral snake. I happen to like snakes, but I am very cautious around poisonous ones. Last year, I encountered a baby copperhead snake...very poisonous. I very carefully, with a long stick, took it into the woods outside our property. I was hoping I would not encounter it again...not too keen on poisonous snakes...but I know they all have their place.

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  22. So many gorgeous plants and animals in your garden!

    I'm glad that your encounter with the snake ended safely for both of you. I love snakes, but of course it's easier here in Ontario because there are no poisonous snakes around. (Actually I have never seen a snake since moving to Toronto. I would be thrilled to see one in my garden!)

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  23. Wow, what wonderful pictures, and so may things going on in your garden! I wish I could smell your jasmine and gardenias, and the dove picture is awesome - it is always hard to get sharp pictures of a bird in flight! I can't believe you took a picture of that snake:)

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  24. Your garden is so beautiful and tranquil well except for the snake. I'm sure I would have just run in the house yelling for my husband! And I like the Mexican feather grass with the day lilies. I think I will try that combination. Thanks for the inspiration and happy Blossom Day!

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  25. haha - you got me! I was deep in thought about that snake, and so worried about what would be next - when it was a cat, I was so relieved! Great post!

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  26. Cat, I really like snakes, but it is easy here because we have no venomous varieties. I am so proud of you that you paused to appreciate the beauty of the coral snake--and it is beautiful--and didn't kill it. That was a very difficult transition for someone who doesn't like snakes. Your garden is beautiful and it's amazing to see daylilies blooming. Carolyn

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  27. Yep - got to watch out for them coral snakes (have "removed" at least six from my garden over the years). Glad to see your gardenia blooming - mine is not there yet. I always trim off the blooms and bring them in the house for their fragrance. Happy GBBD!

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  28. What a beautiful garden you have ... no wonder why so many creatures stop by. Beautiful photos. I love the jasmine. I wish I could smell it. I am "ok" with snakes (and really trying to be better with spiders), but most are not poisonous here. I think I would consider it a compliment if a snake dropped by my garden. It is so nice to see so much in bloom and the lush growth of green. So refreshing.

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  29. just keep telling yourself that you're glad the snake was in your yard and not in your house. :)

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  30. Lovely post and so enjoying your images until ... hello, Cat ... the snake! I am petrified and if I saw one in my garden (can't believe I never have), enough to make me quit forever. Stupid but true ... Wish I was more/brave like you. I am a wimp!

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  31. Cat, you have a beautiful and exciting yard! I get freaked out about snakes too! I once killed a garter snake that slithered in my kitchen! Yes, I killed it with my broom! I know they are not poisonous like the coral snake, but the thought of a snake slithering through my house "freaked" me out too! Happy GBBD!

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  32. Cat your garden is beautiful and so is the snake, I can imagine how you felt thanks for the photos, still can't believe all you Texas gardeners have so many summer (for us in the UK) flowers in bloom, thanks again for the longer shots so nice to see more of your garden, it's a shame we can't get the fragrances on line too but the imagination from your words and photos fills in, Frances

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  33. I'm so glad you didn't kill the snake, better for the soul to let them be (from a distance!).
    I love the bird house in the jasmine too, I must try something like that.

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  34. Beautiful post of firsts...as I have become more native and organic I am seeing more firsts as well...it is fun...we have a return of nonpoisonous snakes in large groups...unfortunately I found out they will bite and leave behind a neurotoxin which is not pleasant so I too have begun to be more careful where I step...I hope to move most of them to the pond in the natural area behind us...I want my frogs although if they eat the voles they can stay..we shall see

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  35. Cat I'm so impressed by how full your garden is, with both plants and animals. That snake is beautiful.

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  36. I love your... what did you call it? stock tank... and your swing, and all your beautiful flowers!
    And then there was the snake! The advice here is to leave snakes alone because apparently more people get hurt by trying to deal with a snake rather than just let it go on its way, and if it's in a troublesome location and won't move on then a ranger or snake expert should be called. We've seen snakes in our garden a couple of times but they didn't stay around. I hope your stripey visitor won't linger in your vicinity.

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  37. Cat,

    I love the red daylily through the grass. Pretty red!

    The snake -- yikes! Glad you did not need to further your acquaintance.

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  38. What a day!! The snake would have freaked me out, too, but I'm glad you didn't kill it. Your garden is gorgeous! :o)

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  39. Cat - another fabulous post! You are much braver than I -- poisonous anything gives me the heebie jeebies (and why I'm grateful for a deep frost line and snow).

    I love the format update in your blog! Very fresh, very striking!

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  40. Cool sighting of the coral snake, Cat! But, ahem, better your garden than mine. ;-)

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  41. Your garden is beautiful, Cat! And full of such diversity and color. I'm so glad you didn't kill the coral snake. I've seen them out here and they are beautiful. I just keep my distance from them :) Thank you for sharing your lovely garden. It must give you such pleasure. It was sure wonderful scrolling through all your pictures :)

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  42. Thanks for taking me for a stroll through your beautiful garden ! Gorgeous shots - you never disappoint ! Great capture of the butterfly and dove. And the snake - whoa, I'd better do a little research to see if I might find one in our garden in Florida - I'd prefer to see it before it saw me !

    I moved our star jasmine from a pot into a barren spot beside a fence. I hope to see it climbing the fence by the time we get back there - the fragrance is incredible !

    Beautiful post Cat !

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  43. Cat, thats an amazing picture of the caterpillar, I thought it was two until I clicked on the picture to take a closer look. Glad you saw the coral snake first. We don't have poisonous snake here in zone 5 and I have to say I feel glad about that. Be careful in that wonderful garden of yours.

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  44. You did the right thing to pause and think and watch .. I too would have been more than anxious, but some times we react too quickly from our gut .. I call it my "primitive self"
    you have captured some wonderful pictures here Cat .. I so love your garden and all of its ornaments .. aside from the snake ? LOL
    You have a beautiful piece of eden to enjoy : )
    Joy

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Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind.
"Pooh!" he whispered.
"Yes, Piglet?"
"Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's paw. "I just wanted to be sure of you."
~A.A. Milne

Thanks for taking the time to visit!