Friday, April 04, 2008

Urban Wildlife


Now that spring is in the air, it is time to beat my urban garden back into shape. Our landlord at work gave me free run of a trash filled patch of dirt a while back. I pulled out all the garbage, and planted California native plants in hopes of attracting birds and butterflies. The garden flourishes, but if I so much as glance away, it reverts to weedy awfulness.

I've been reading up on the brown garden snail, Helix aspersa. This is the classic escargot, which is native to France and Spain, and was introduced as a food animal to the United States in the 1850's. Apparently, the ancient Romans kept "cochlearia" gardens where snails were fattened up before being eaten. I prefer to give these garden pests a one-way trip over the fence.

On the other hand, I adore my local Western Fence Lizards, Sceloporus occidentalis. My landlord gave me a huge pile of slate paving stones, and as I had hoped, the lizards are enjoying their new basking spots.

The neighborhood where our studio is located can be politely referred to as "unpolished." People regularly dump the entire contents of their apartments in the middle of the street. About a month ago, someone torched a car on the other side of my garden fence.

I love the fact that I have a secret urban oasis, in the midst of all this.

This, I understand, is a female. I saw a male yesterday, and was delighted by his bright-blue throat. I wonder if I could gentrify our neighborhood a bit, and encourage the locals to develop a taste for escargot?

Here's a weird fact. Apparently, Western Fence Lizards have miraculous blood. When Lyme's Disease carrying ticks bite these lizards, the lizards' blood kills the bacteria that causes the Lyme's Disease. Read more about it, here.


knitica said...

What a cute lizard!

Resident Squint said...

I remember these lizards fondly at Cal Shakes, running around and basking in the sun on the rocks on the grounds. A friend of mine once had a baby lizard hang around on her head all day. My crew once found a lizard tail recently detached that still moved for an hour afterward. I found out real quick who was squemish. I never noticed the blue throats though, but I wouldn't be on the grounds until May, so I probably missed it. Thanks for naming them!

Anonymous said...

Ah, gardening. Getting in touch with Mother Earth and all the broken glass and used needles that a patch of soil can possibly contain. I love it all.

I started some seeds here inside awhile back and only my Roma tomatoes have done anything yet. I think most of my seeds were way too old and so I probably have to get some new ones.. I suggest planting some gourds in your spot, (they thrive in crappy soil, like sunflowers) that way, they can later be hollowed out to make great birdhouses for your local birdies!



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