Snakes alive!

When we had all our visitors the other weekend, I was asked what the large snake was in the bog garden. Some time ago I planted out lots of Meconopsis seedlings at the back of the border, the following day I was dismayed to find that most had been pulled up and were just lying with their roots exposed.

Meconopsis seedlings

Meconopsis seedlings

They were planted as small plug plants that I had grown from seed and I think that the culprits were the blackbirds that we have living in the garden. Most of the time the birds root through the leaf litter in the borders, flinging bits left and right and I think this is what happened to my seedlings, before they had time to put roots into the soil around them.

Protection for meconopsis

Action had to be taken, so out came some netting from the shed to protect them from being uprooted again, you can see it behind Primula florindae.

Shade netting

They are doing quite well in there, I had a look today and think I will be able to remove it in a couple of weeks as they are rooting nicely.

This then lead to us telling our visitors about the grass snake that occasionally visits the pond, but that we don’t often see it, I think only 3 or 4 times in the 23yrs we have been here. All of a sudden the undergardener was telling everyone that there was a snake in the pond.

Grass snake

He has a habit of teasing everyone and no-one believes a word he says, but there it was, for all to see. I thought it was maybe a plastic one and so did the others, when suddenly it moved!! It was real! Can you see it in the centre of the photo, it’s tail is towards us and it’s head pointing upwards. It was early morning and relatively cool when we saw it, so was very lethargic. It was a grass snake, which are harmless, it was unfortunately probably eating up the few tadpoles that survived the frost earlier in the year, as I haven’t seen any since. As the snake warmed up, we could see it’s tongue flicking in and out and then suddenly it swam away and hid in the greenery round the edge of the pond.

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14 Responses to Snakes alive!

  1. Cathy says:

    ha ha! Well spotted by the undergardener! Those net cloches are such a good idea, aren’t they? I got some from Wilkinsons and I cut them to fit the veg beds and put the pots and trays of seedlings under them when we went to Orkney, keeping the pigeons (and blackbirds?) off them and shading them from the sun too.

    • Pauline says:

      Cathy, the cloches have certainly saved the seedlings, I don’t think the blackbirds will manage to pull them out now, or I hope not! I must move them now because the seedlings are in the shade anyway so they must be in need of some light by now!

  2. Wendy says:

    I’m glad you were able to save your seedlings. And interesting news about the grass snake; I saw a grass snake here too, recently for the first time in years. I wonder if they’re more visible this summer because of the hot weather. As you say, it is a shame that it will be eating the tadpoles and froglets.

    • Pauline says:

      Wendy, we can go for a few years without seeing one The biggest shock I got one year was when I lifted the lid of the compost bin and found one curled up there, by the time I got back with the camera of course it had disappeared! I agree the heat must have brought them out into the open this year, just so glad they are harmless. We have adders on the local common only 1/2 mile away, but thankfully my garden is too shady and damp for them.

  3. Christina says:

    I’m so glad you saved your precious seedlings. Good thinking to use the netting cloche, I think I need some to create some shade for certain seedlings here.

    • Pauline says:

      I’m glad I was able to save them too Christina! It certainly stopped the blackbirds from pulling them up and they have grown quite a bit under their protection. I might use the netting cloches more often in future when putting out veggie seedlings up at the top of the garden.

  4. Cathy says:

    Great shot! We see a couple every year, but I always get a shock at first! The best is when I open the lid of my compost bin and see one, or a slow worm… I shut the lid quickly, breathe in and out and then quietly open it again to take a closer look! Of course, the camera is never to hand. 😀

    • Pauline says:

      Yes Cathy,I have found one curled up in the compost bin, but as you say, the camera is always in the house, the other times have always been either in or near the pond -poor tadpoles!

  5. rusty duck says:

    I thought for a minute you were going to say you found a snake under the netting. Which would have been appropriate!

    • Pauline says:

      No, Jessica, I’m rather glad I didn’t, that would have been too much of a shock! I once found one under some membrane that we had been laying in between the raised beds in the veggie garden, next to the pond. The offcuts were in a pile that suddenly started thrashing about, when I lifted a corner, there it was, it quickly slithered away!

  6. How wonderful, I have still never seen a grass snake. Blackbirds can make the most incredible mess when they are digging around in the borders, they had me covering my raised beds with prickly prunings in the spring, they would go frantic trying to collect enough food for the baby blackbirds they were nurturing in the hedge at the back.

    • Pauline says:

      Janet, whenever I put mulch on the border, the blackbirds take great delight in putting it on the lawn, I now never put any on the front 2ft, hoping to keep the mulch where it should be! I love the birds in the garden, but having to clean up after them is a bit much!

  7. I do really like grass snakes – there are plenty where I work. I saw one today actually in the compost bins as I was forking them over (very relieved not to have speared it with the pitchfork!). I do wish that they didn’t eat all my frogs and toads though. Dave

    • Pauline says:

      Dave , I too wish they didn’t eat the tadpoles and little frogs, that is the only thing I have against them. So glad you didn’t spear one on the end of your fork, that would have been awful, for both of you!

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