Monday, June 15, 2009

Mish-Mash Monday

Today's topics include: a new wildlife visitor, visiting others' gardens, and visiting new blooms in my own garden. And... we're off!

Snappy Visitor
Imagine my surprise the other day when I saw this large (shell over a foot long) common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina) sunning itself in a narrow strip of sunshine in my backyard.

Now, some people freak out at garden snakes, and I don't. I think they're cute. But there's something about this turtle that freaked me out in that kind of a way. I dunno why. Maybe because it walks almost upright on much longer legs than I imagined a turtle to have--it didn't crawl (as one might guess from the photo of it lying down), it really walked on upright legs with the shell kind of swaying back and forth, and at a pretty good clip, too. (The association of slow with turtles wasn't based on this species, I can tell you!)

I like how the tail looks prehistoric and kind of Stegosaurus-like. You can tell two things from this photo: 1) My back "lawn" has a lot of clover in it, and 2) I had no idea this was a snapping turtle when I took the photos or I wouldn't have gotten this close to it!

Update, 8:54 a.m.: I found her again this morning digging in my front veggie bed--those are baby leek she's taken out (behind her) and horseradish in front of her, and a tiny tomato still standing to the left of the green stake (whew, so far). She's probably looking for a place to lay her eggs (if snapping turtles are anything like painted turtles, which I know more about), but my garden bed, especially with it being right near my driveway and not too far from the street, is not a good place. My backyard, bordered by trees and a creek, would be a way, way better location (my personal interest in tomatoes not withstanding). There's a particularly nice area near my beauty berry bush. I went out and presented this argument to her, fairly convincingly I thought, but 10 minutes later and she's still there. Update #2, 9:40 a.m.: I found out snappers lay up to 30 golf ball-sized eggs (eep! larger than I expected) and the process can take 24 hours. But, the large, loud trash truck (complete with the high-pitched beep-beep-beep backing sound as I'm on the end of a dead-end street) scared her off quickly, before she laid any eggs. It's nice to know that a middle-aged woman wearing a robe, with crazy hair and eloquent arguments, is not as scary as a trash truck! Update #3, 6/16, next morning, 7:30 a.m.: Now she's sitting underneath my car! Update #4, 7:49 a.m.: Now she's sitting on my front walkway. I confirmed shell measurement at just over 1', provided tips on suitable places in flower beds for egg laying, and repeated rant on unsuitability of veggie beds. She didn't look like she was taking any of it in, but I'm sure my neighbors think I'm nuts by now! Update #5, 8:40 a.m.: She looked like she'd settled on a space along my walkway--hooray! But minutes later I saw her heading back to my front veggie bed. Now, I'm honored she likes my garden and I think it's cool if she wants to lay her eggs here. But my tomato seedlings are my eggs, as it were, and I'm protecting them. Remember that double-wire fencing I put up last year to dissuade the groundhog (who is keeping an oddly low profile this year; perhaps he made a shared land rights deal with this turtle?)? Well, I put it back up around the front veggie bed. It was hard because the two layers were still attached and it was hard to bend it into shape, especially with a snapper sitting inches away at times... but I think it will work. She's now under a large section of Japanese anemone, and that would be an ideal nest--out of the way from predators and affording her some privacy. But what do I know? I'm only human.

Ann Arbor Garden Walk
On Saturday, Carole, Amy, and I attended the 19th annual Ann Arbor Garden Walk. Of the seven gardens on the tour, five were home gardens and two were community gardens. Most of the home gardens this year were very large and very impressive:

I love the use of the blue and white salvia near this tremendous stone, plus there's an iron bench hiding between them and the huge decorative pot in the background.

I admit I'm not automatically wild about all weeping forms of trees, but this larch did speak to me. (What it was in fact saying was "Pssst! You there! Take me home!" but I pretended not to hear this.)

I loved these stepping stones (which were sending off similar messages)...

...and this tri-color beech. Noogie!

All the photos so far were of one garden. I told you they were huge! Here now are more shots from other gardens:

One garden had this amazing small tree--maybe 6 feet tall and maybe 4 feet wide. It had pure white, drooping buds, that looked like eggs.

The flowers were pale rust/peach and also drooping...

...with a really cool pistil and stamens.

No one knew what this tree was, though some suggested magnolia. I'm not aware of a magnolia with drooping flowers, but I'm sure one of you will surely let me know if you recognize it.

Yep, those gardens sure were impressive and grand, but the chance of me ever having anything even close to that expansive in my lifetime is illustrated by the little figurine to the bottom right of this photo.

In case you couldn't see it, here it is!

My favorite garden wasn't as expansive and doesn't look as panoramic in photos. But it was a joy to be in, with colors all around and no lawn whatsoever, not in the front or back yards!


The homeowner is a painter and glass artist. You can see her work all around the garden.

The glass is used in the walls and pathway of this fairy house, and in the tiny blue Chihulyesque sculptures that pop up in the fairy garden.

My favorite glass work was this multi-colored bowl/flower that fits in so well with these gorgeous coral bells. Noogie! Noog! Noog!

The homeowner's son makes metal sculptures, both free-flowing like this cool zig-zag column...

...and this swirly whirly thingamado (and check out the mirrors that add depth on the fence! Clever!)...

...and in animal form like this cool dragonfly...

...and these neat ostriches. I love how the plants color-coordinate so well with the artwork!

I had the chance to compliment the homeowner, a gracious and vivacious lady in her 70s who clearly got great joy from her garden and her art.

The non-home gardens included the Tappan Middle School Agrarian Adventure Garden:

...and the Growing Hope Gardens:

The hoophouses at both locations were built from the proceeds of previous garden walks. Project Grow sells its produce at a farmer's market on Tuesday afternoons in the parking lot of Key Bank (SE corner of Hamilton and Michigan Ave. in downtown Ypsilanti).

More Garden Faerie Blooms
We've had quite an overcast spring, but things are growing and blooming, by and by. A few things blooming or just starting to bloom since my last post include:

Edelweiss and...


Also, I discovered the other day that Jimi likes eating my native grass, little bluestem. So that explains why it never gets as tall as I've seen it elsewhere!

Penstemon 'Husker red' (and Jupiter's beard) is fully blooming now too!

...And a fuchsia/lilac shade of perennial Centaurea has its own special visitor.


  1. I always get a little envious when I see all these beautiful gardens, but now Coconut and Sophie are also jealous after seeing that beautiful dog drinking fountain:) There is that variegated beech tree I've been wanting! But I agree, I like the last garden the best. All those glass pieces and the metal artwork--beautiful! I always come home after one of those walks and wish I had some artistic talent as well as my own gardening staff:)

    But your garden blooms are lovely, too, Monica. My dad would be jealous of the edelweiss--he smuggled some home from a trip to Germany, an act totally uncharacteristic of him, but it never grew. He saw that as getting his rightful punishment:)

  2. Wow, loved the garden tour. I'm going to one on the 17th but the houses and gardens won't be nearly as spectacular.

    I clearly heard those stepping stones speaking to me too;) Loved the terraced alpine garden.

    I added husker's red and jupiter's beard to my garden this year planted together as yours are.

    Snapping turtles kind of creep me out too. Yours is huge.

  3. That first garden is incredible! What big ole huge rocks. Love it! Makes gardening easier too. Looks like a fun day.

    Now that turtle. I like him. They do walk fast and upright. They look funny but can move out. I'd hate to get my finger snapped by him, but basically he'll leave you alone. You got some great shots.

    Ha! The cat. You caught her. She's thinking uh oh. Oh well. Fun mish mash.

  4. Was fuer ein Besucher! Wir hatten letztes Jahr eine kleine Schildkroete. Ich finde sie immer sie immer faszinierend! Die Gaerten sehen alle sehr schoen aus, obwohl fuer mich Gruenflaeche sehr wichtig ist. Ich moechte daher schon unbedingt einen Rasen haben, auch wenn mehr Unkraut als Rasen drinnen waechst;)
    LG, Bek

  5. What a lovely garden tour Monica. As large & well manicured as the first couple were, I too loved the smaller more eclectic one with the wonderful art pieces. :)

  6. Wow, I love everything you pictured. I don't even know where to start, but it's all beautiful!!

    We have Snappers too. Usually they do walk on all fours like other turtles, but when threatened or in a hurry they'll run on their back legs. I haven't seen them do that, but I've heard about it, along with descriptions of accompanying (human) screams. lol

  7. PS You asked about the Achillea -- it's not really purple, more of a fuschia pink, but does take on lavender tones in the evening.

  8. Wow, those gardens are stunning. And that snapping turtle is scary looking!

  9. I always get such a good giggle when I read your posts. I saw a photo a a winged cat online not too long ago. Pigs could be flying before you know it!:-)--Randy

  10. I think you should feel honored to have a snapper laying eggs in your garden. I would be thrilled to find this happening in my garden. I about cracked up at your description of yourself not scaring the poor creature. I can vouch that you are much better looking than a trash truck. tee hee. The garden tours looked great. What a fun day out with friends. I love to do garden tours. Your blooms are coming right along. Summer is almost upon us.

  11. The thought of you communing with the turtle really made me chuckle - and I got just a little bit envious of you having a turtle pootling round your garden too!

    I'm fairly sure that Ceefer cat is responsible for the nibbling of my beautiful black grass - I just haven't caught him at it yet!

    Great garden tour - I love those sculptures and that gorgeous day I'll open my garden for the National Gardens Scheme - one day!

  12. Hi Monica......the snapper is amazing, wish I had her in my garden......and tks for the info on interesting....

    The gardens are great. I love the variegated beech. I saw one on Rose's blog a while ago.......stunning leaves.....

    A garden does not have to be large to be impressive....sometimes the smallest gardens give greater impact......

  13. Monica...what a delightful tour...I wanted to be in the garden of the glass artist, too. it felt the most like one I could create. Plus there is just nothing like art in a garden. Speaking of art...I think your garden is a lovely almost had me convinced that the ground hog has eaten everything! I love box turtles but snapping turtles bite, so they can stay away! gail

  14. So many great pictures, all of them thought-provoking! Loved the snapper story, and hope we get to hear what happens with the eggs. (It is reassuring to know one is less scary than a trash truck.) That tree looks like a magnolia to me as well, but I'm not sure of the variety. I do know there are many types of magnolia flowers.

    The color-coordinating plants-and-art is wonderful, thanks for sharing that inspiration. And I'm impressed at your edelweiss; I understand they are hard to grow. I wouldn't even attempt one in my climate.

  15. Another glorious mish-mash Monica and a great read. I have never heard of snapping turtles - fancy repaying your hospitality by eating your leeks ! Wonder if there will be babies appearing soon. The garden tour must have been great fun. I was particularly taken by the garden with the beautiful art work. Love the dragonfly !

  16. Monica: A delightful post to read and view!
    Now that is a good omen having that turtle in your yard...if she sits and faces the north..that is a sign of prosperity...(Feng Shui)
    What I love about garden tours are the ideas you can pick up..that fairy house is adorable...WOW that big blossom on the tree!!
    Thanks for sharing!~ aNNa ~

  17. What a wonderful garden tour - I wish I could visit all these amazing gardens!

  18. Gorgeous gardens Monica! I love the glass art. The day the Lawn Man lets me take up that much space with gardens will be the day the pig flies!

    Saturday I went on a MG field trip, and we met at the extension office. Out in front there was a huge, and I do mean huge box turtle digging in a front garden, right along the edge of the street and parking lot, getting ready to lay her eggs. One of the braver MG's among us picked her up and carried her across the street to the lake. She didn't snap, but her hissing was enough to intimidate all but the bravest (or dumbest(?) among us!

  19. Monica, I'm glad you figured out that the only way to protect your veggies was with a fence. No sense becoming known as the talking wacko in the robe! ;-) Thanks for the tour of the gardens. I hope your turtle has a successful lay too.

  20. Pretty flowers!Congratulations!

  21. Very nice tour.

    The garden by the glass artist is pretty awesome.

  22. Almost forgot to say: I LOLed at your updates on the turtle.

    When I lived in Arizona a desert turtle made it into the yard and freaked me out because it was HUGE! I never did figure out how the heck it made it into the yard over the fence.

  23. wow... I'd love to have such cute visitors in my garden.... what a wonderful surprise that must have been...


  24. Holy moly, Monica! I am not sure whether to be envious or glad I don't have visitors like yours! It sure is a pleasure to get to hear what he's been doing in your garden, but the chickens are destructive enough in my garden! LOL.

    Love the photos from the garden walk.

  25. So much here, Monica, it was more like a novel than a blog post! So glad all worked out well for Ms. Turtle. Golf ball sized eggs, yikes, poor dear. The garden tour gardens were amazing, evergreens just don't grow like that in the south. But I agree, the glass artist's garden was exquisite, and that piece of hers with the heuchera was sublime.

  26. Loved the garden tour, but I am so envious of your seeing that snapper. I would love to see one lay her eggs.....
    Michelle From Rambling Woods

  27. Wow! I saw a snapper at the shoreline of the river bordering my yard just the other day-she was staring at me as though she'd like me to leave so she can come ashore. They have been laying eggs in my yard for years, but I didn't realize that the season is NOW. I'm glad you didn't get any closer too, they have really long necks. I tried to help one off the highway once by grabbing the shell way back by the hind legs, and it almost got a chunk out of my hand! BTW, there was a lot of cool art on that garden walk!

  28. Nein, ist das eine schöne Schildkröte. Ich mag diese Tiere sehr. Sie sind so gemütlich. Würde mich sehr über so einen Besucher freuen. Aber da kann ich wohl lange warten ;-). Einen tollen Garten hast Du besucht. Wunderschön! Und sooo viel zu sehen.
    Viele Grüße, vor allem von Nicki, zu Dir über den großen Teich, liebe Monica. Birgit

  29. I love your cat! I had one called Jaffa and he would eat all my ornamental grasses. They are all doing well now he's gone to kitty heaven...but I'd rather have him :)

    What an exciting surprise, Monica, to find a snapping turtle in your garden...I'm envious...I'd love to see him. I'd do nothing all day!

    These gardens you visited were sooo amazing...full of glass objects and sculptures...such fun.

    We have no lawn front or back...two ponds instead, much easier by far than cutting grass :)

  30. Wow ~ a terrific post, Monica! I'm one of those wimpy people that freaks out at garden snakes and love turtles (although she is huge and would be a shocking sight in my garden)! Love garden tours ... thanks for letting us walk beside you (I have yet to be on one this year).

  31. My dog eats my little bluestem, too! I don't really want her eating *any* grass but I'd rather she eat the ones I didn't pay money for.

    Mrs. Turtle is awesome. Let us know where she sets up shop. You'll be a grandma!

  32. Thanks for sharing the critter and garden photos with us!

  33. Well...looks like I missed your post LAST Monday...but today is better than never, right? I don't know what to comment on; it's ALL interesting! That turtle is WOW...amazing! Keep us posted re: eggs! Garden tour: beyond words! Everything jumps out at me! Gorgeous. Love the rock wall in the one garden. Wow, again!!! Hey, you're not the only one in a robe out in your yard. Count me in that category too (although I suppose I'm 'over' the middle aged part)--unless I live until 104!!!!!!

  34. EEeeck...that turtle is just a tad freaky looking, not sure what my response would have been to seeing her in my garden. I'm used to elk not turtles!

    What amazing gardens, I really love all the beautiful glass and sculpture that was gracing the artist's garden! Kim

  35. Pretty neat story about the snapping turtle, I'd love to hear if she found a spot to lay her eggs. I'm also intrigued by the fence with segments of roofs/rooves over it. What would be the purpose of that?