Morning Discoveries in the Garden

Early mornings are wonderful in the garden. With cup of coffee in hand and birds singing wildly from nearby trees, I stroll through the garden to enjoy the blooms and observe what’s going on.

Many iris are in full glory, but I’m not the only one enjoying them. Early morning strolls reveal slugs in their journey back down iris leaves and stalks after they have had a nighttime feast on the foliage and blossoms. To counter a slug invasion I arm myself with with a repurposed peanut butter jar filled partially with soapy water and a plastic spoon. The spoon easily scoops slugs off foliage and bloom so they can be deposited into the soapy water … their final home. I don’t get them all but each slug I remove means fewer slug babies enter this world to feast on my plants.  When the slug population really explodes, as it does during rainy springs and summers, I go on slug-fari in the evenings, too.

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Clematis ‘Crystal Fountain’ shows off its stunning blooms. Slugs don’t seem to care much for my clematis.

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Strawberries, though, are a favorite of slugs. So far, the wood chip mulch surrounding my Alpine strawberries has kept the slugs away – they don’t like crawling on the rough surface. The first of these tiny, sweet tasty fruits delighted my taste buds this morning.

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Yesterday morning, during an extended stroll and weeding session, I heard a rustling in leaves I neglected to clean from under a holly bush. Closer inspection revealed an Eastern box turtle as the cause.

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An Eastern box turtle hung out at the opposite end of my fenced in back yard gardens last year. Perhaps I cleaned too many of the leaves from the area the turtle preferred last spring, or maybe it’s just a different turtle.  I’m just happy to have a turtle call my garden home, even for a short while each spring, and from now on I’ll be sure to leave leaf litter under the holly shrubs the turtle/s obviously prefer.

When I went out later to check on him – I think it’s a him because of the red eyes – he had settled down among nearby euonymus.

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He’s still under the holly this morning, barely visible among the leaves and I chose not to disturb him with another photo session.

The Eastern box turtle population has taken a serious hit in Connecticut. Development diminishes their woodland habitats and roads dissect the routes female turtles travel to find preferred egg-laying locations. I’m happy to maintain areas of unraked leaves under the shrubs in my gardens for Eastern box turtles to use. They eat slugs, worms, small snakes, and fungi … there’s plenty of each in my gardens. They also eat fruit. So even if resident turtle meanders to the nearby Alpine strawberries, I don’t mind sharing if it helps him survive.

Garden thoughtfully …

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9 comments for “Morning Discoveries in the Garden

  1. May 21, 2012 at 11:18 am

    Lovely post-early morning coffee and a stroll through the “garden of best friends is a lovely ritual for me, too. Thanks for instigating my happy garden grin this morning!

    Benita

    • May 21, 2012 at 11:04 pm

      So glad to know I brought an early morning smile, Benita.

  2. May 23, 2012 at 8:24 am

    It really is the best time, early in the morning in the garden. I love the discoveries as you do, even if they are distressing (my ripening strawberries were the chipmunk’s breakfast today). How nice to have a turtle resident in your garden!

    • May 23, 2012 at 10:40 pm

      Laurrie, my ripening strawberries have been eaten by slugs. ARGH!

  3. May 24, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    Joene, thank you for sharing a fine part of the day in a garden. Here’s to a good cuppa. Annnd, the alpine strawberries, the sweetest. Cheers.

    • May 25, 2012 at 9:16 am

      Lee, you are so right … Alpine strawberries pack a ton of sweetness in a little package.

  4. May 30, 2012 at 7:12 am

    I always suspected I might have some strawberry hybrid in my garden. I always pull it up because it spreads wildly and takes over the ground. The leaves look much like the above ‘Alpine Strawberry’ photo.
    It must have been such a great surprise when you first saw the turtles in your garden!!

    • May 31, 2012 at 8:03 am

      Margaret, there is a wild strawberry that spreads. Alpines remain in neat clumps that are easily divided. I use them as a border in one of my perennial beds.

  5. June 4, 2012 at 9:09 am

    Hi there – I found you from your feature on the blogher ad this morning & wanted to invite you to check out GardenStalking.com. GrdenStalking is a garden aggregation site that functions for garden bloggers in the same way that sites like Foodgawker and Tastespotting working for food bloggers. I hope you will check us out and think about making some submissions! -Donalyn

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