Garden Curiosities

My garden is full of curiosities. Come have a look.

This is the only snapdragon to survive the winter. I don’t know why this survived, but it sure is pretty.

yellow snap dragon in pot

Overwintered snapdragon

If you take a closer look though, the plant below the flowers looks terrible. Dots of black, sooty material coat the leaves, an as-yet to be determined garden pest. Curious.

snapdragon infestation

Snapdragon infestation

Our aging orange tree produces an impressive amount of fruit, but they’re not very sweet. The rats, however love them and lay waste to a half a dozen oranges a day. Somehow they overlooked the larger orange. It grew like the heart of the Grinch on Christmas day.

pair of oranges

The orange that ate New York

Since we live in California, we keep an up to date earthquake emergency kit, stored under my potting bench in the backyard. The lower bin holds water, blankets and a first aid kit, and the top bin stores canned goods and assorted items. The bins remain disguised but at the ready if we ever need them.

I use the top of the potting bench to stage some of my photos and in the summer it doubles as a buffet for outdoor meals.


Apparently some unknown critter had the same idea. Just under the top of the bench I found a mass of hollow snail shells. Do you think the snails hide there by day, providing a tasty buffet for a night dweller, or do you think the night dweller brings them there for his meal?

potting bench with ribbon

Potting bench, earthquake storage and a place where snails go to die

earthquake kit

Outdoor earthquake kit

snail wasteland

Snail evisceration

I was home alone one morning this week when I heard scratching on the living room window. Yikes. I screwed up the courage to investigate and saw a goldfinch repeatedly fluttering into the window. This went on for most of the afternoon and on into the second day.

We have ultraviolet decals on the windows to discourage flying accidents. Some birds will fly straight into the window thinking the reflection is more blue sky. The decal alerts the bird and prevents injury. But this was different. Over and over again, he would fly up to the window from his resting branch, and without injuring himself, flutter his wings on the glass.

I did a bit of reading and learned that the birds small brain thinks the reflection is a competitor. This exhausted little bird has been defending his territory for two days…against himself. I taped a large piece of red plastic to the glass and it broke the spell. Curious indeed.

window decal ultraviolet

Ultraviolet window decal, barely visible from indoors but highly visible to the birds

Here’s the view from the tree.

reflective window

Goldfinch nemesis: His own reflection

While cleaning up oranges from under the tree, I made the mistake of drawing back the branches of a fern. I wonder who’s living in that hole? I released the branches of the fern and backed away. I’m curious but, not that curious.

unearthed crevice under orange tree

Anybody home?

Finally, what’s more curious than a cat named Mouse licking dew drops from the edge of a daffodil while a little snail travels down the center of the bloom?

Mouse sips water from the flower, snail inside

Mouse, always curious

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34 thoughts on “Garden Curiosities

    • Hedgehogs are so cute. We don’t have them in our urban gardens, but it is probably just as well. We already get visits from opossums, raccoons, squirrels, rats and crows. It’s crowded!

      We’ll have to find more positive things in common than earthquakes and snails, eh? Blogging and our blogging community is an excellent start! ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Liked by 2 people

  1. You have rats permanently in your urban garden? It must be a safe haven for them. I think you must also have a french immigrant rat coming by for those snails every evening. He has a lovely warm, dry place to dine and doesn’t have to do his own clearing away. I love your little potting ensemble – just too lovely! I feel I need to stop by and have a garden tour to learn how to do this garden decor thing with aplomb and style!

    That poor little finch – what a bird brain! ๐Ÿ™‚ Two days defending his territory against himself – somehow that seems vaguely stupidly human! I’m sure someone from Hollywood will pinch this story and turn it into a cute family movie. I do like your window decals. I have no need for them in this tiny urban place, but once they would have been very handy. There is nothing more awful than hearing that dull thud that portends the sight of a little bird upside down on the ground. We used to keep a bottle of arnica drops and drip-feed them into the beak. But I would rather not have it happen at all!

    Do you know, the only pests I had in my garden this entire summer were a few snails. My tomatoes are still fruiting even while they are dying back and still have no disease or pests on them. I companion planted and it seems to have worked a treat. Now and again I saw some white butterflies flittering about, but they never seemed to land and never stayed for more than a few seconds before flying off. Whatever I did it was really good – I hope I can do it again next year!

    The photo of Mouse tasting the daffodil is a hoot – he doesn’t look like he’s enjoying it that much!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I hate to think what lives in that hole Alys… the thing that eats the snails perhaps? I know some birds take snails to a hard surface to crack the shells, so maybe that’s why they are all in one place. Curious indeed. And the cat, daffodil, snail photo is great!


    • I’m with you on the hole, Cathy. It’s tucked in the farthest corner of our garden, behind a tree and under a fern. Whoever is living there, does not want to be found out.

      Interesting idea about the birds cracking the snails shell. Several of the shells appear to have a hole in them so I think you’re onto something.

      I’m glad you liked the cat photo. He is a character through and through and keeps us all entertained.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. That hole looks like a Surf hole. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Good to know about the decals. I could use them even though I’m sure the cats enjoy the show of a bird crash.


  4. i love your potting bench! I’m so happy you were able to figure out a way to save the poor finch from beating itself to exhaustion. That Mouse is quite a character. I hope you have a snake in that hole that eats rats. The rats are being well fed. Sorry to hear about the orange tree. We had one that produced fruit that tasted like quinine. You could really pucker up from them. I took the tree down and put in apricot trees but not in the same spot. The rest of the orange trees in other parts of the yard were wonderful. I’m going to tell you that Pauline cracks me up with her French immigrant rat and bird brained finch. I feel like I’ve had a whole day in your back yard now. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Marlene. It’s in need of some TLC after many, many years in the garden. It’s been moved from place to place, used as a potting bench, home for my earthquake kit, party counter and all around handy outdoor surface. The legs are rotting at the base, so I’ve asked Mike to help me cut the damaged part off, then we’ll add some sort of end cap. I just haven’t figured out what that is yet.

      I understand the logic about hoping for a snake, but my fear is that Mouse will find a way to bring that in too. Then I would have to move to a hotel till further notice. ;-0

      Pauline is hilarious, isn’t she. So clever, too. French immigrant rats.

      Thanks for visiting.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. We have never had a snail burial ground, but when we were newlyweds we had a sacred pill bug cemetery. We would find a dozen or more that had died clustered in one corner. We would sweep them up and a few days later there would be another bunch. It was so odd and we never figured it out!


  6. Fun checking out your gardening curiosities. My daughter is in LA and a few times I’ve tried to gently suggest she should prepare an earthquake emergency kit, hoping of course, neither of you will ever need it. That’s a charming photo of the cat with the daffodil.


    • They’ve been promoting earthquake kits here for years, ever since the 1989 quack. Several organizations, including the Red Cross, sold emergency backpacks with all the basics needed for three days. They contain basic first aid, individual, foil-sealed packets of water, a foil blanket and a flashlight. My large bin has four blankets and four sweatshirts, one for each family member. They suggest other things, like back up medication, but I don’t know how that would be practical. If you have a chronic illness though, like diabetes, you would want to have a supply for your needs. Finally, pop-can foods like beans that are high in protein and don’t require heating.

      I found a source that sells a case of water packets that last for five years. For $20 it is money well spent.


  7. It is certainly a garden of curiosities, as well as a garden of charm and fairies! Your snapdragon is delightful although the Mildew looks pretty rank. (My iPad just changed mildew into Mildred ๐Ÿ˜™) Do the rats really eat that many oranges? I only have a very pot bound lemon tree. The main thing that attacks it is gall wasp, so we have to cut off the affected branches. It makes for a rather lopsided tree!


  8. Loved the snapdragon. They’re so sunny and smell really yummy. It’s a shame you only saw one. Are they planted where you’re pumpkins were growing? Interesting that you suffered threw a pest on those too. I wonder if you could sterilize the soil somehow but still grow things in it. It’s nice to be able to bring a bit of this or that in for a vase but that’d make me reluctant. I can’t believe that momboo orange! I wonder why they haven’t been tempted to pick it? Hey? Did a birdie make a house in the velvety soft gourds? I think there’s a next in our birdhouse already. I cleaned it all out last fall and now I see twigs in there. I hope we’ll have wee birds in there, singing away the day.

    Blossum has something to tell youโ€ฆ.she’s currently leaving hair all over my MAC and begging for snuggles. Now she’s standing on my wrist looking up with those needy eyes..brb.
    I’m sure there are buckets of hair under the keys, lol Maybe she sees Mr Mouse and like her mom, has fallen badly for him. What a cute photo. Those snails are everywhere aren’t they? I’ve never seen so many empty shells. Maybe they all went to the fountain for a dip and just took their flip-flops and towels? Were they (eeeek) eaten? Will you do some kind of D.I.Y. with them? I’ve seen beach shell inside of candles, LOL.

    Oh, and Mercy ! Look at that big ol’ aqua sign in your side bar ๐Ÿ˜€ โค โค โค (((( you )))) spoil me and it's lovely xoox, Thank you Bestie, you are the best, Bestie in the west (east,north,south too) โค k/p/b


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