Sunday, 1 June 2014

A Snake Came.....





An hour ago, I walked out into the garden in early afternoon heat. A grass snake (Natrix natrix) and I met in the lush grass growing so quickly in this damp, humid weather. I`m not sure who was the most surprised!
Instinctively I jumped backwards. We have adders in this garden. I saw the yellow and black collar around the snake`s neck as she slid away, into the leaves beneath the liquid amber tree. Her stripes were    less distinct than those of the poisonous adder. I quickly found my camera. The snake was still there, frozen against the tree bark and almost impossible to see.

Above, she has rested her head on two round nodules of bark in the centre of the photo. Below, her tail is just visible, curled in the centre of the picture, but would be easy to mistake for tree roots or stems among the dry leaves.




Grass snakes will play dead to avoid attack from predators, so I stayed very still and she eventually slithered out, across the grass, to the shelter of the next rough patch of vegetation underneath a tree. She was going in the direction of the compost bins, where she probably has her nest.








The snake had emerged from the herb patch and may have been hunting for mice or searching for water in saucers beneath clay plant pots.

I was pleased to see that the beautiful green mint beetles (Chrysolina menthastri) have hatched again. They arrived last summer for the first time and this hairy, variegated mint seems a favourite plant. 












Around the garden, on the first of June, summer seems to have arrived at last.




Self sown foxgloves mix in with perennial geraniums.......



.....lupins......



.......the first summer roses......



....and the pink flowered ornamental strawberries that would happily take over.



Clematis henryii and the Lady Penelope rose are climbing an old cherry tree stump....




....and this is the first poppy bloom not to have been ruined by rain.




Clematis Gypsy Queen looks well in her second summer here.....




....and the spaces cleared in the old herb bed have made room for new plants.




This is an old plastic tub that once held a Christmas tree. It has a new lease of life as a shallow, small wild pond where birds and insects can drink. I wonder if the grass snake could make her way up through the ivy, to find water?







13 comments:

Bovey Belle said...

I remember seeing lots of snakes in my Dorset days, but none in our part of Wales (one of the chaps on the shoot remarked upon this only last week). We used to walk in a fir plantation near Lytchett and ALWAYS saw snakes there - grass snakes by the pond, and adders sunbathing beside the path (or on it). Slow worms too.

Great photos of your grass snake anyway, and a lucky find. Love the irridescent mint beetles and your garden is looking beautiful. You have some lovely plantings.

Mum said...

I'm very impressed with the beauty of the beetles and, of course, your calm on encountering a snake.
Love from Mum
xx

Down by the sea said...

I enjoyed seeing your grass snake pictures especially from a distance!
I have never come across green mint beetles and the pink flower strawberries. I am envious of your foxgloves, lupins and poppy! Sarah x

Louise said...

That's a lovely looking garden. I love green mint beetles and the grass snake was a great find. They come into our garden too (often too eat newts from the pond in spring!) but I've not see one for quite some time, sadly.

Countryside Tales said...

Fantastic about the snake- you did well to get pictures too, what a lovely record to have. Love those little mint beetles too- I'm now off to check our mint :-)

Cottage Tails said...

sure glad we don't have snakes in New Zealand. Your garden is looking beautiful

amanda peters said...

I have never seen a snake, it would be cool but would have made me jump.. Your garden looks lovely, great idear with the tup for a little pond, did have a pond but struggled to look after it, I could manage a tub.
Amanda x

Elizabeth Musgrave said...

I am not sure about snakes. I can see objectively that their markings and shape can be beautiful but there is something primitive in me that makes me very uneasy in their presence.

Morning's Minion said...

I had to slide right past the photos of the snake.
Your foxgloves are beautiful. I have a mere half dozen cosseted on from seed sown last year--they have rewarded me with bloom--but are half the height of yours.

Em Parkinson said...

How lucky you are to have a Grass Snake. Very envious. Those mint beetles are gorgeous. I've never seen them on our mint but I'll be more vigilant when walking past the plants now.

Crafty Green Poet said...

I've very rarely seen snakes in the UK. How lovely to get so close to a grass snake. I like that shiny green beetle too.

Ragged Robin said...

Your garden is looking beautiful - those mint beetles are very pretty :)

I'm very jealous of the grass snake :) I haven't seen one for years let alone having a garden visit!! Adders are believed to be extinct here in Warwickshire. I'm really hoping to see some snakes and lizards when we go on holiday later in the summer to Dorset.

Isabelle said...

Gosh, your garden is huge as well as beautiful. No wonder you always sound so content!