Enjoying Wild Nature in Your Garden

Anyone can walk the length of Crows Woods Gardens in about a minute. But to truly know them would be the work of a lifetime. In my walks, I’ve discovered our gardens are alive with everything from monarch butterflies to red foxes and turtles.

Butterflies embody the love of “useless beauty” that is at the heart of gardening. In our plots, zinnias are the great draw for butterflies; so are the nations of asters and goldenrod that grow unbidden all around us.

The whole range of umbrels --parsley, dill, and fennel - if we don’t mind sharing, attract caterpillars.

Turtles Digging Their Nests

In two separate years, Anthony Calabretta and I have seen mother snapping turtles digging their nests in the garden to lay their eggs in the way of their kind since before the flow of human blood in human veins. (Note: no one has ever been harmed by a snapping turtle without asking for it.) Last year, Mary Previte’s plot had an honored guest: a box turtle, a rarer sight than it used to be. A female, like the snapper we saw, she may also have been looking for a nesting place.

Weasels - ‘Handsome as Cary Grant’

Once only, but unforgettably, a weasel appeared in my garden. Weasels are as graceful and handsome as Cary Grant. If they had just gotten the right press agent like our local beavers, their name would never have become a weasel word - which also goes for the red foxes, sightings of whom were not as common last year, but I have a feeling the foxes were there seeing us all along.

Rabbit’s Mating Dance

Cottontail sightings remained steady. I can still complain about cotton-tails with the best of us. But have you ever seen their mating dance? I can’t begrudge my lettuce such an exuberant afterlife. And the damage could be worse: The deer, whose tracks are everywhere in the nearby woods, rarely trespass on our gardens. And, if they did, they probably wouldn’t call it trespassing.

The many tribes of wasps are beneficial as the word is usually meant - as pollinators and predators of pest species. And even though their aposematic stripes make us jumpy, only one gardener I know of has been attacked by any of these vespids. Without mentioning any names, let me just say that it was all my fault. And it wasn’t as memorable as seeing the weasel.

Did I mention the coyote?

These are only a few of the other bloods who share our tiny corner of the ball fields. Their purposes are not ours; their umwelts we can’t know or barely imagine.

Written by Arthur Leon, Plot 17
( With editorial counsel of Christina Jackyra, Consigliere )

Editor’s note: By planting purple cone flowers, bee balm, cup plants, sunflower and a whole array of wild flowers, Arthur Leon, our garden manager, has created a haven for wild life in the buffer between our gardens and the woods.