Monday, August 7, 2023

I know you've got to build your nest somewhere, but not there...

An eviction recently occurred within my garden, it began as a mystery. This is the area where our story takes place. 

First I noticed a few of the Schefflera delavayi leaves were chomped off and missing. The plant had finally taken hold and was doing really well. Looking closer (maybe a day later?) I noticed it was five stems of the Schefflera delavayi that had been cut off (chewed off?) and were gone.

Since each stem holds three to five leaves that meant 15 - 25 leaves were missing—what creature eats that many schefflera leaves? Several new shoots on my broad-leaf bamboo, Sasa palmata, had been cut down and chewed on earlier in the year (I'm told rats are the culprit there, ugh) but they're left strewn about the garden, the schefflera leaves just completely disappeared.

Stewing on the mystery I moved some moss I'd recently harvested, I hosed it down in preparation a project. Less than a half hour later I returned to discover the moss, which had been laying in 3 or 4 small piles, had been flung around like confetti at a New Year's Eve party. What the?

Then I saw a piece of the moss in the hanging container of Nepenthes 'Miranda'. I did not put that there.

Then I saw that something had been working off bits of the bromeliad and moss I'd tied to a nearby tetrapanax trunk.

Peering into the metal container holding the nepenthes pot I discovered where everything was going.

I had to go get a stool to see inside the container and pull out everything that didn't belong... the twine was from tying the bromeliad to the tetrapanax trunk. I'd cut off the extra and absent-mindedly left it in the large stock tank where the schefflera is planted. You can also see a bit of Tillandsia usneoides, there was much much more, whatever built the nest had been harvesting it from around the garden. 

All of the schefflera leaves were accounted for.

As well as the small bits removed from the tied up bromeliad. I had to appreciate their taste in plants.

Once I removed everything that didn't belong I filled the container with wire mesh. 

There was definitely a part of me that felt guilty for evicting such an industrious creature, but this container isn't there for nesting, it's there to grow nepenthes. 

So what was it? Watching the critters that move thru the garden in the daytime (when the moss upheaval happened) my money is on the squirrels. One of them has been harvesting hair from my trachycarpus (palm) trunks, and I watched him or her hopping along the top of the fence other day with a children's toy, a stuffed elephant, in it's mouth. Since it was nearly as large as the squirrel itself the whole thing was rather awkward. It would stop to rest, but progress was happening and it eventually got where it was going, the laurel in the neighbor's garden. Is it nesting there too? I read they sometimes build auxiliary nests.

Thankfully there was no damage to the nepenthes, they're pushing out new pitchers right and left.

In happier garden visitor news (nobody was evicted), I went out to walk the garden late the other evening and stopped to admire the Lomatia tinctoria foliage.

That's when I spotted two sleeping bumbles...

Aren't they cute? The fuzz on the lomatia leaves comes curtesy of the blooming Albizia julibrissin 'Summer Chocolate' above. It may very well be the next garden eviction.

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  1. Who knew that squirrel babies would enjoy pink elephant stuffies too. Amazing what bits and pieces are used to make nests. I lined a wire hanging fuschia basket with a lovely greenish wool to disguise the plastic liner. The birds adored it and I suspect there are many baby birds enjoying a lovely soft nest lined with my wool.

    1. Hopefully they left enough of your green wool to still hide the plastic?

  2. Nice that you were able to do the eviction before squirrels were actually nesting there. That might have been nasty. We had a birds nest in the evergreens around the big ceramic platter by our front door. They moved in before I cleaned up that area after the winter. Made it difficult to use the front door for longer than I anticipated.

    1. So true! If there had been babies I would have had to leave the nest and then my poor nepenthes would have certainly sustained some damage.

  3. I've never seen a squirrel's nest but then I think most of those here are ground squirrels. At least you discovered the nest before it was occupied by babies! I wish you'd captured a photo of the squirrel with the plush toy but somehow I'm not surprised by your story - squirrels are nothing but relentless once they focus on a goal.

    1. I wish I had too! I have one pair of gardening pants without pockets and unfortunately that's what I was wearing that day. My phone (aka camera) was all the way across the garden on the table.

  4. Good you caught it before the offspring were there. Be vigilant--it may try again close by.

    1. I have another of the same planter, filled with a Queen of the Night epiphyllum that's got big fat buds. I'm keeping an eye on it!

  5. Oy! You are brave, I must say. I wouldn't climb on a stool and peer inside for fear of something jumping out. Not till you revealed the nest was empty was I able to relax, and even managed a small chuckle at "...I saw a piece of the moss in the hanging container... I did not put that there". Amazing you can remember those details.
    Your nepenthes are fabulous!

    1. Oh trust me, it took no special memory skills to know the moss was out of place, it was just sort of lying on top of the leaves. Plus I wouldn't put moss in that container anyway because I test to see how dry the plants are (there's 3 in there) by sticking my fingers up into the soil. Moss would get in the way!


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