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Alive! But wilted!

Five days away from home with weather skirting the hundreds, and I wasn’t surprised to return and find a great deal of wilting going on in the garden. The big established beds are completely fine, and would likely keep on keepin’ on for a couple more weeks without any supplemental watering, but the plants from this spring, which haven’t established yet, are suffering badly. Most of my natives will generally take a heckuva lot of abuse on the drought front, but they do need to get their roots well into the ground, so as soon as we pulled into the driveway and counted the animals, I was in the backyard trying to save the abused elderberry and plumleaf azalea.

Clearly the answer is more mulch. More mulch!

Other than the crisis with some of the more tender shrubs, things are going well. Bees and bee flies, hummingbirds and hummingbird hawkmoths, hordes of flower beetles—they’re all swirling over the bee balm and the wild quinine, which are surprisingly long lasting, and the narrow-leaf mountain mint finally bloomed, which is one of the best nectar plants, hands down, and is covered in a swarm of delighted pollinators.

The spicebush swallowtail eggs have hatched into a number of tiny “instar larvae” (the stage before they become actual caterpillars) and now I’m fretting that I won’t have enough spicebush for them. It’s one potted plant on the deck! It’s an okay size, but how many caterpillars can it support? Will I be frantically transporting swallowtail caterpillars to the stand of sassafras behind the general store? (It could happen. You know it could happen.)

I am also happy to report that my garden is apparently now under the ownership of a very grumpy little box turtle, who has commandeered my wheelbarrow as a sun-shade. Given the decline in box turtle populations, I am very glad to have him—apparently they have very small territories, so my garden ought to be hosting a half dozen turtles, in a perfect world, to provide sufficient population density for them to find each other and make more box turtles. But you have to start somewhere, and one grumpy turtle under the wheelbarrow is as good a place as any.

After five days on the road, and three days the weekend before that, “alive but wilted” applies to me as well. I am very tired. I was going to knuckle down and get to work today, but I’m so beat that I may just go to the coffee shop with a book for awhile and vegetate in a sandwich.


Originally published at Squash's Garden. You can comment here or there.

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Regarding the box turtle population - am I right in recalling you rescuing some from roads in the past? If so, perhaps the next one or few who don't end up squashed could be given a more peaceable home in your garden.

Oh, and welcome home.

I have, but other than one that was actually IN THE DRIVEWAY, I usually just get them across the road. They're very territorial, and apparently they don't transplant very well, the poor things.


Have a headache? Mulch!

Need to deal with that pesky pet? Mulch!

Having trouble in the bedroom? Mulch!

Mulch: Just as good as duct tape!

What would happen were mulch and duct tape combined?

Chuck Norris?

*flees, giggling*

Speaking of mulch and reptiles, how's the sad snake?

"vegetate in a sandwich."

I'd like an Ursula on rye, hold the mayo.

You do realize that as I don't have a garden to muck about in you're doing some of that gardening for me, right? I put the turtle in for you. Most people don't have enough turtle in their lives.

I live in a condo, so I also read in part for the vicarious gardening.

Though I do work in an office park where I can take a walk on a sunny day and see turtles sunning themselves in the slough. Everybody could use a dose of turtle now and again. ^_^

That's because too many people believe that the turtle can not help us.

> Clearly the answer is more mulch. More mulch!

I can very clearly see Kevin now, head in hands, mumbling something about mulchageddon and the wailing of so many trees...

What is best in life? Crush your mulch, see it driven before you and hear the lamentations of the turtles!

The box turtle reminded me, a few weeks ago E and i had our first Alligator Snapper Encounter. It wanted to cross 6 lanes of traffic near Walmart. We wanted it back safely on the side. So we (and two other cars, one right away, one later) pulled off, E got a length of PVC from the back, and we slowly prodded and flipped the angry snapper off the road onto the grass. While we were looking at it trying to decide if it would start lumbering across the road again, third car showed up, lady hopped out, scooped up the snapper from behind (wish I'd known their necks weren't long enough to get you back there) and told us she was in a family of wildlife rescuers and snapper would be relocated somewhere safer.

We wished her luck.

It was very heartening to see so many people willing to stop and help out one ill tempered snapper.

T-minus 5 days until you are overwhelmed with the urge to make a Grumpy Box Turtle painting series. :D

OMG... Having frogs breeding in my backyard would be a delight for me. But /wild turtles/? Nothing could be better.

Last summer, my husband rescued a box turtle in the middle of the road in a very heavily-trafficked, urban area. There wasn't really any good place to put him--no trees or shade or anything but asphalt and concrete as far as the eye could see (how the poor thing got there in the first place, I have no idea), so my husband brought him home instead, and we built a pen for him and kept him. I successfully hibernated him through the winter and he's as healthy and happy as a grumpy little box turtle can be, so I guess he's ours now. He really needs a proper name, though--we've gotten used to just calling him Turtle. :-P

Oh yeah, in situations like that, you're kinda sunk--no place to put him! Poor little guy!

Indeed. I knew enough about box turtles to know that you can't just release them into the wild anywhere, because if the transplanted turtle carries a disease the new population doesn't have an immunity for, it could cause a massive die-off (something like the Europeans bringing smallpox to the Native Americans). So since we had no idea exactly where he'd come from, and we could just take him to some random place and let him go, we decided the only thing to do was to keep him.

On the plus side, I used to keep box turtles as temporary summer pets when I was a kid (I'd catch one or two wandering around in the woods behind our house, keep them for a couple of months, and then let them go sometime around late August/early September), so I had some experience keeping box turtles. I'd never kept one through the winter, though, so I had to research how to hibernate captive box turtles, and I spent a very nervous winter checking on him and weighing him every week or so to make sure he wasn't losing too much weight. He made it fine, though, and he's currently trudging around his pen in the back yard, gobbling strawberries (his favorite), cherry tomatoes, shredded carrots, and some very fishy-smelling dry food I call "turtle kibble." :-)


Yay for grumpy box turtles!

My garden is happily full of bees, and I saw a hummer on the coral bells not long ago.

You're lucky. Suffering through a real bee-drought on Vancouver Island; seen only a few honey bees, with the bulk of the pollinating handled by a very few, but (judging by the apple-nubs) very dedicated assortment of bumble-bees and blue orchard bees.

Well, I do admit to not being very good at differentiating different kinds of bees, so I don't know if they're honeybees or not.

I suppose I should learn [wry g].

Yay for caterpillars! And just so you know, an instar is actual a time between molts, as in a given caterpillar will have several instars. A "first instar" would be a newly hatched larva, for example. Spicebush swallowtails will happily eat your sassafras, and may prevent them from decimating your spicebush. :-)

I see Grumpy Turtle art in your future.

Pleasure to see ya again, and I can only imagine the *Squee* that would occur should you become home to FAMILIES of box turtles. With baby box turtles in all of their cavity inducing cuteness.

May take the detour down south end of July/beginning of August to drop off of your art and say hi :)

You're more than welcome! Give us a few days warning to roll out the futon and launder the beagle...

I really like your gardening posts. This one made me want to go hang out in my zucchini jungle a bit.

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