Monday, November 7, 2011

All Creatures Great and Small Must We Gardeners Love Them ALL?

  1. Though I considered myself a gardener and critter lover it was the Master Gardening class and all that followed that opened my eyes to how much the two intertwine. As a child I was always bringing home snakes and salamanders and getting reprimanded especially for bringing them inside. Now I found myself raising red wigglers and investigating insects to find out if they were good bugs or bad bugs and if the lizards and frogs I found were native to Florida or an invasive species dining on the native species.

 At first I was  crazy about  wildlife gardening and did a great job of planting a woodsy wildlife habitat to go along with our ponds and creek. Wild coffee, beauty berry, stoppers, wax myrtles and mulberry trees were placed across the pond in a spot we declared the HABITAT. A small patch of woods with a path marked by fire bush (hamelia patens)  , wild lime and sweet acacia complete with all the thorns beckoned to wildlife.

 But when I decided I wanted to raise ducks I discovered I had overdone it with the wildlife habitat. I was heartbroken when Dixie Duck was taken out by a bobcat. A friend of mine reminded me that bobcats needed to eat too.  Maybe so but shouldn't they just stick to rabbit and squirrel which thrive in abundance on my property?  

The frogs, lizards and snakes should also know the rules. Stick to YOUR habitat and stay out of my house and away from the hen house! I am really not all that squeamish and I love taking photos of all God's creatures but, go on now! 

Often a grandchild needs help with a school project about insects or trees and they know I am ready and willing to help capture even the meanest bug, showing them how to ID and label their latest find. We enjoy watching as caterpillars and butterflies perform their metamorphosis and even though butterfly nets seem like a great idea no butterflies are ever to be caught.
Lizard catching though, keeps kids busy for hours as they playfully attach them to child size earlobes  making a pair of lovely dangly earrings.  Occasionally a bite on the nose brings them to reality but soon they are happily playing again and chasing the ever abundant tail droppers. I must admit I cannot imagine a garden without all God's creatures, though I would love to imagine it without the fury of the fire ants!

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