The Garden of Eden

Jim McKenney
Sun, 13 Jun 2004 18:45:31 PDT
Dear All:

There is a style in the English tradition which is sometimes called the
"paradise garden". Such gardens are characterized by lush growth and as
broad a selection of taxa as the climate allows. Among gardeners, the word
"paradisiacal" is usually meant in a complimentary sense. Many of us aspire
to an Edenic ideal in planting our gardens. 

However seemingly successful such efforts are, there will almost always be
something fundamental missing. No, I'm not alluding to the two
historically-correct resident nudists. I'm talking about snakes. In my
opinion, a garden without snakes is not much of a garden. 

My garden is managed somewhat like a nature preserve: a really fascinating
selection of the local fauna either visits or resides in the garden. Human
visitors sometimes make only the most half-hearted attempts at euphemism
when commenting on the garden: the words "wild" and "jungle" are sometimes
used. Among the visiting and resident ambassadors of the local fauna are
snakes. Five species are sighted several times a year. This year I was
beginning to wonder if we would have any snakes - none had been seen in
April or May. But yesterday I spotted a garter snake under the blooming
Dracunculus, and later in the day a hefty black rat snake stretched out in
broad sunlight on the winter jasmine by the front door under the mailbox.
The mailman was not amused! Neither was I when we almost didn't get our mail. 

For those of you who do not suffer from ophidiophobia, I've added some
snake shots to the wiki. I was tempted to sneak them in on the Sansevieria
page (snake plant in American vernacular) or among the pictures of
Fritillaria meleagris (the snake's head frit), maybe on a future Ophiopogon
page or  some such mischief. Instead, I've let them wiggle in on the Places
page, where I hope to post some views from my garden eventually. Take a
look at:…

To get this post past the gatekeeper, I suppose I have to provide a
geophyte connection. Here it is: the black snake is part of my integrated
pest management program. It eats voles which would otherwise eat my tulips.
The garter snake is just along for the ride. They're both great for getting
rid of boring visitors, although they're not reliable about appearing on

Jim McKenney
Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7, where I'm still trying to
figure out how to attract those two historically-correct nudists to my
little Eden. BTW, happy Father's Day, father of us all Adam

More information about the pbs mailing list