Monday, February 15, 2010

Death and life in the garden

I was at my potting bench this afternoon when a commotion at the top of a coconut palm caused me to turn just in time to see birds scattering and a broad-winged hawk flying off with a victim in its talons. Small, downy feathers drifted to the ground.

This morning, there was a dead Muscovy duck in the water that looked like part of it's underside had been ripped off. I'm wondering if there's a gator or a croc back in the lake. I haven't seen any ducklings for a while, which adds to my suspicions.

The effects of the long cold spell continue. The cold chilled the waters deep enough to cause a massive fish die-off, and for a while the stench of decay wafted up from the canal where dead fish -- and iguanas -- floated past.

It also stayed too cold for the iguanas to revive. I haven't seen the monster at the top of his tree since the freeze. Vultures are flying low, spoiled for choice of dinner. Much as I regret the loss of life, gardens around South Florida will benefit from the reduction in their numbers.

Coconut fronds have turned brown and continue to drop in large numbers, but I don't think that the palms themselves will die. Before a palms drops a frond, it pulls out the nutrients, leaving a dry, brown skeleton to fall. In a healthy palm, the lower fronds die first, as is the case here.  Even so, they're still heavy and they can damage the plants below. Last week, a frond split the trunk of a prized croton.

But enough of the gloomy news;  the Clerondendron quadriloculare, the starburst or shooting star clerodendron (below), is in flower, and orchids and bromeliads are about to bloom, too. Plus, I heard a mockingbird singing its heart out the other day. Twitterpating 2010 has begun!


NanaK said...

Oh! Your clerodendron is beautiful! I have had one here in the Tampa Bay area that has put out buds every December for the two years I've had the plant. Such promise. Every January a killer freeze burns it to the ground before those buds have a chance to open. I enjoyed seeing your beautiful blooms.

Bangchik said...

Death and Life is in continuum. ~bangchik

Susan said...

That clerodendron is gorgeous! I did hear recently about the iguanas, but I wasn't sure if they were dying or just stunned. I also heard the pesky non-native snakes couldn't handly the cold weather either...that's a good thing. I hope your palms are hanging in there.

hydroponics said...

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Penny McCrea said...

Bangchik: Yes, but don't you think people choose not to think about that? Unless, of course, they are gardeners

Susan: Iguanas will revive if the temp warms up soon enough, but it stayed too cold for too long. Apparently, it killed off many pythons living in the Everglades, too.

Thanks, hydroponics. I appreciate that. And please spread the word!

James Missier said...

I shrudder the thought of death in my garden. Guess not able to handle that as I choose to see life to spring forth from my garden.

And its getting very hot this time of the year in my garden as most of my plants are turning brown crisp.

Penny McCrea said...

James: If plants didn't die, you'd never have room to grow new ones!

Do you have a rainy season, and if so, when is it? Thanks to El Nino, our "dry season" (now) is wetter and a lot colder than usual; I need a sweater outside!