Today we will be taking a walk through a vivacious and glowing garden in the Conejo Valley, to show you that with a little hard work and creativity, you can have your own personal paradise. Paradise is exactly how this stunning and blooming garden was described to me, and I couldn't agree more. Not only do I agree with this, but quite a few animals feel the same.
Female Annas Hummingbird enjoying the nectar of a honeysuckle
When sculpted properly, gardens in one's yard can provide more than just a paradise for yourself. Of course, the gorgeous grapefruits and strawberry trees are a wonderful way to have healthy homegrown fruits for breakfast. However, just two people find it hard to eat 10 trees worth of fruit, so the extras can be given to neighbors and friends.
Both kinds of neighbors and friends, the humans, and the animals. You may have a cumquat fall on the ground and start to rot a bit. Some flies may hover over it and pick at its ripened flesh. Flies are a nuisance to most, but in your garden they are actually a keystone of paradise. As the flies hover over the fruit a lizard sneaks up behind them and expertly grabs a few for lunch.
As he munches them down, a shadow passes overhead. The third eye present on the top of the lizards head, known as the pineal eye, picks up the change in light and alerts the lizard to something flying overhead. He takes heed, and scurries under a log. He probably didn’t need to worry as it was actually just a small house finch that swooped by to grab one of the flies.
Western Fence Lizard on the hunt
The lizard sneaks back out from under his log, after he realizes it's dangerous no more. But when he returns to the rotting loquat in search of more flies, the loquat has disappeared. Next to where it was is a small hole in the ground. The lizard looks at it side-eyed and jumps back as a puff of dirt flies out of the hole.
Western Fence Lizard
Diving into the hole, we see a ground squirrel devouring the loquat. He licks his furry lips and then pokes his head out from underground. He scans carefully, and for a long time. His eyes, ears, and nose all quivering. They all gather as much information about the world around, and boom. His nose shakes and he sees another loquat sitting just a few feet away from his hole.
California Ground Squirrel on the search for lunch
Just a yard away, he should be able to quickly sneak out and grab it. He puffs up his furry tail with confidence and sprints towards the loquat with every sinew of muscle used to its full extent. Once he gets to the loquat he grabs it in his mouth and is spinning to return to his hole when the overwhelming flavor of the fruit stops him in his tracks.
California Ground Squirrel enthusiastically chewing
He nibbles and looks around, ears perked. Maybe in this paradise he can eat the loquat above ground and enjoy his life to the fullest. Unfortunately, for all his good hearing and smell, he doesn't have the pineal eye that the lizard does. The shadow looming over his back, tall and wispy, villainous to its core, is completely unnoticed.
As you can imagine the ground squirrel was soon no longer a member of the garden in his waking moments, however, mixed with the sour flavor of loquat, the coyote was well fed, and well nourished. He sauntered through the rest of the garden, striking fear into the already trembling hearts of the remaining ground squirrels.
No longer hungry coyote
On his way out he feels the painful reminder of the slightly rotten loquat in his belly. The coyote kindly provides some fresh fertilizer for the future of the garden. The seeds of the loquat in here may take kindly to the soil and begin a whole new tree. In a few years, they may provide the fruit for many more thriving ecosystems.
Gardens take work, they don’t just spring up overnight. But if you take good care and work on them they can almost become self-sufficient. They will bring you lots of animals, food, stories, and joy. Here are a few more images from the garden that was so spurred by the onset of Spring.
Anna returns for more nectar
Enjoy, and let us know what you may have seen in your gardens!
Wonderful photos taken by Alex Havasi
Isaac Yelchin is foremost a herpetologist. He studies lizards, frogs, newts, and the like. Specifically, he spends all day and night thinking about what it is like to be an animal. What are the animals thinking about? What is their perspective? When he should be working, he sits and stares at his pet lizard asking himself these questions.