From the outside, gardening looks pretty tame. Plants don’t race around. They don’t seem to attack. It’s just greenery, water, and soil, right? The truth is, if you garden regularly, some amazing things are bound to happen.
It’s not just the plant oddities that appear. Many of us have come across twinned tomatoes, dancing carrots, and fasciated stems, but gardens are full of surprises. These are just a few of mine.
I never gave mold much thought before gardening, other than to make sure it never took up residence in my bathroom. I knew that mold could spread, but it never occurred to me that some molds, specifically slime molds, can move across areas intact. The dog vomit slime mold pictured below did just that. On the first day, it was a bright yellow blob above and to the left of a seashell. On the second day, my slime mold had changed color and started to engulf said seashell. I certainly didn’t expect that!
Glowing bananas and bursting stems
Because of my time in the garden, pruning and harvesting, I was able to see, firsthand, what happens to a stem when the water inside freezes.
I was surprised to learn that the sugary brown spots on ripe bananas glow when illuminated with a blacklight. You can use one of those penlights that tell you if a dollar bill is counterfeit.
Baby praying mantis, napping bees, and ambling grubs can all be surprise discoveries if you take the time to look for them.
Even watching a simple grub walking can surprise you.
I caged my fruit and nut trees to protect against bird, squirrel, and rat damage. Sometimes, small birds would still find their way into the tree cages. Once, a Cooper’s hawk managed to get in. I must assume he was trying to get at the songbird since the figs probably didn't appeal to him. I used my old wildlife rehabilitator skills to capture and release the magnificent bird properly. The songbird escaped on its own.
In the end, the closer you look, the more you see. And gardening never ceases to amaze and surprise me.
What has surprised you in the garden?
Kate Russell, writer, gardener, and so much more.