I wanted this space to be a haven for wildlife as well as a beautiful sanctuary for us (and Ramses, of course). We had our share of rodents last year, but thankfully have not SEEN any this year. I say “seen” because I believe we have a rat that comes around sometimes at night. I suspect this because Ramses will not come to bed on those nights (I think he smells it.) and the next day one of my trellises is always leaning – as if something has crawled behind it thus causing it to fall forward. But these visits are few and far between. We get robins, finches, and other larger birds everyday. Some go for the seed in the bird feeder, while others forage on the ground for seeds that have been jettisoned. A few like to drink from the new bird bath.
We have three regulars frequenting the Hummer Café. One hummingbird is obviously female and also likes to sip nectar from the fuchsias and bacopa. Aside from birdseed sprouting up all over the place, our feathered guests provide great entertainment for all three of us!
Western Fence lizards are all over the place. The cinder blocks provide necessary hiding places from predators – like my cat!
Last month Ramses spotted the tiniest Western Fence lizard I’d ever seen. Fortunately, the cat was inside on the opposite side of the screen door. I squeezed my way past kitty and approached the tiny thing. It was not scared of me in the least and let me gently pick him/her up. That’s a warning sign. Sure enough I saw one of its back legs was dessicated or malformed, with little to no foot attached to it. The lizard was enjoying the warm sun so I let it be and went back inside. Cat stayed inside, too. (Very annoyed.) The next day I went out to the Concrete Jungle to water plants. Ramses in tow. I always know when he’s found something. It was in one of the pots. I looked and didn’t see anything. As there were dead leaves from the plant inside the pot, I stuck my hand in and rooted around to see if anything came running out. Nada. But the plant needed watering…after which I DID notice something. The baby lizard from the day before. I was sure I’d drowned it. Putting Ramses inside, I retrieved the little tyke. It was barely alive. Did he/she slip in there the night before to hide and didn’t have enough strength to climb out?
I was very worried. I decided this tiny creature deserved a fighting chance to live. I keep mini mealworms (these are TEEENY) around for my carnivorous plants. You can see how small this lizard is by comparison with the mealworms. I hoped they were just the right size for a baby Western Fence lizard.
I came back later and found all the mealworms gone! Spike (I figured a tough-as-nails lizard deserves an equally tough name.) had crawled out of the shallow pot and was drinking from a small dab of water under one of the planters nearby. Checked back about an hour later and didn’t see Spike, but could tell from Ramses’ manner that he/she had not gone far. I guessed Spike had snuggled under the purple alyssum for the night. Early the next morning I put three more mealworms in the same shallow bowl and set it next to the alyssum. Came back and they were gone, too! Although we’ve not seen Spike since, I’m happy he/she stuck around long enough to get a couple of good meals down. Rock on, little one!
From the 5th through the 9th we had a helleva heat wave here! We normally have the door open and the outdoor lights on in the evenings when it’s warm and one of those hot nights I saw something HUGE fluttering in the Concrete Jungle. My first thought was that it was a moth. I ran out to check and it was not a moth at all, but a Western Tiger Swallowtail taking refuge from the heat. That same week a baby skink showed up late afternoon and said hello to Ramses. (From the other side of the screen door, of course.) Unfortunately, it wouldn’t sit still for a photo op.
Bees have been coming and going pretty much all year. They LOVE the African Blue Basil and are finally cottoning to the oregano and borage flowers; and one bee in particularly seems taken with the heliotrope…and who can blame her? Look at the size of this flower head!
My dreams have come true.
This little bit of concrete heaven smack dab in the middle of Silicon Valley
has truly become a wildlife refuge.
Last month, I wrote that I was having some luck with borage seeds.
Well, look at these beauties now!
I’m growing these from seed from now on. The plants are so much stronger and healthier than ones I’ve purchased as seedlings.
Thanks to the warm weather, my Bishop’s Cap peppers are finally maturing. They are tasty, too. Not hot. Zingy.
Speaking of the heat wave…my Datura (aka “Dot”) EXPLODED with blooms the week before. Thank Goddess I got photos because the 100+ temps melted them all away.
At Night in the Jungle
Where all the colors just seem to POP…
I’d like to say my work is done BUT as you know, gardening is a work-in-progress…
To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.
– Audrey Hepburn