Retired from the University of Texas and too old to play soccer anymore. Now, in the twilight of his years, time is spent writing in this blog, hiking and exploring Texas Parks, photography, working out, gardening and tending to the five ponds he built .
With the weather as mild as it is here in Texas, it is hard to believe that technically, it is still winter. The outside temperature is at 65 plus degrees and true to form, Mother Nature is hurrying all of her charges along in an attempt to put on a show. Luckily for me, I managed to get ahead of the game and cut down all of the dead and decaying material giving the new growth plenty of room to succeed.
The Knockout Rose is really excelling and has some beautiful blooms and lots of them. Years ago, I planted a bunch of bulbs and some of them, mainly Narcissus, are flowering like crazy. I also discovered several clumps of Violets except they are of the white variety. One plant is in the waterfall on one of the ponds.
I also spotted my resident garden snake that seems to have found a permanent home here. I have watched him (or her) grow from about two feet long to almost four feet long today. He has also increased his size around the girth and is now a very plump specimen. Probably due to his frog and the occasional fish diet. This time, he was sunning on one of the pond plants in the 6000 gallon pond and when he did eventually spot me, all he did was disappear back under the cover of that plant. Below are three more pictures of him.
Since taking these pictures, the weather has got a little cooler with chances of overnight frosts. Hopefully, we will get lucky and if there is a drop in temperature it will not go below freezing. We are almost halfway through February and winter officially ends on March 21 although for us, it will be much sooner than that. It is worthwhile putting up with the summer heat and 100 plus degrees just to not have winter. I hate being cold…
If you have been following my blogs, you will be familiar with the Brown Snake, an addition to my garden last Spring. He has been living close to the ponds sometimes varying which pond that he hangs out. I guess that is something to do with his hunger as two of the ponds contain Koi which are all much larger than he can eat. The other three ponds contain Goldfish which are much smaller fish and one time, I watched him slither out of the middle pond with a six inch goldfish in his mouth. I don’t mind him helping to keep my Goldfish population within reasonable limits as there are way to many of them with new ones hatching what seems like, all of the time.
Anyway, the last blog that contained information about this snake was entitled Texas Winter when I was wandering the garden taking pictures of the few flowers still brave enough to flower and came across the snake sunning himself. Most unusual as I thought that snakes denned up for the winter and semi hibernated. They probably do in places that have much colder winters than my part of Texas does.
A couple of days ago, I discovered where this particular snake has chosen to hang out. Like many Pond Owners, I have aerators on my ponds more to provide oxygen in the summer than this time of the year. The units are housed in small plastic boxes that used to have attached doors to keep the the rain off the pumps but due to the nature of plastic, it deteriorates very quickly when left out in the open and the first thing to go are the doors. So, the snake has discovered a very nice resting place that will also keep him warm when the aerator motors are running which is probably one hour out of every four at this time of the year as I have them on timers. This is a four foot snake curled up inside of this box. Hard to imagine…
I wonder if he knows that his tail is outside of the box? He stayed in the box for a couple of days and now has moved on. I wonder where this time. I will probably come across him in the unlikeliest of places and jump out of my skin at his discovery. Ah, the wonders of Nature.
I was wandering around my garden and ponds with a camera at the ready to take pictures of a couple of flowers that I had spotted. This is December after all and not too may flowers are brave enough to put on any display. I stopped by a Knockout rose bush that I had first planted over 30 years ago before the ponds were ever built. I actually located the pond around this rose bush when I built it. It had a few sorry looking flowers but then again, the roses on this bush are never very great anyway.
Moving along, I came across several Fall Asters that still had a healthy bloom and host the few butterflies that remain.
At another spot, I found a Gregg’s Mistflower that held a bloom or two
Finally, and much to my surprise, I discovered my friendly Brown Snake that has spent all of the year with us. I must say that he looks pretty healthy so I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if he hadn’t found a goldfish or two for dinner. This one is between 3-4 ft long. Interestingly enough, Mikey, the Dachshund/Chihuahua mix who was a couple of feet away, never spotted the snake and as the pictures show, it was well out in the open. Not sure if that is a good or bad thing. This snake is non poisonous but at the same time, I don’t want the dogs tangling with any of the snakes just in case another Rattler shows up as happened with Richie last year. Besides, I try not to harm the snakes in any way as they are all a part of Nature’s Plan. He was gone five minutes later when I went to check. I would have thought that the snakes was already denned up for the winter but maybe it is not cold enough yet. BTW, I use a telescopic lens so I am not that close to the snake even though it may appear so.
I completed the circuit of the garden but there was nothing else of interest to warrant taking anymore pictures so I will close with another Knockout Rose.
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