Hummingbird, rabbit, snail found in garden — oh my!

So there I am, fussing around in the west garden and I get buzzed by a hummingbird. This is October. Granted, we had a family of four in residence all summer. I think there may be a nest to be seen when the leaves are gone. 

Little is known about the migratory habits of hummingbirds, but Alaska hummers are usually gone by the end of August. It appears to be an immature rufous but don’t place any bets on that. Try as I might, my identification skills are lacking. 

Still, I find it disconcerting that it is still here. The Dropmore honeysuckle on the west wall is still going strong and that is where the bird hangs out, and there are a few foxgloves left, but that’s about it. Let’s all wish it well and hope it makes its way to Mexico. 

Drama in the garden. Goodness.

Another oddity was a regular snail, not a slug, a snail. I called the Coopertive Extension Office in Soldotna and asked their Integrated Pest Management Technician Janice Chumley (who knows EVERYTHING): What? Why? 

Sure enough, there are actual, indigenous snails here and we had an excellent summer for them. Wet and warm, they had a banner year, thus they were very comfortable in the raspberries and even the grass. Granted they are nothing like the golf ball sized nasties in Washington state. 

Which brings me to — be careful what you wish for. I have often thought we should relocate to Washington (this thought has never ever crossed John’s mind), where our daughter and her family are located. I always help tend her garden while I’m there (with gloves, always gloves). On a recent visit I was ever so impressed by the variety of insects and diseases that plague her plants. A baffling array, indeed.

At least here I know what I’m up against. Our neighborhood moose for example. We have a healthy population here: at least two cows, one with a calf and a youngish bull who enjoys strolling up and down the street. They are spending time peering through the fence that has proven effective for the last 16 years. My fingers are permanently crossed. 

And here comes another good one: I am standing on our deck, just looking around and what do I see? Right at my feet? A domestic rabbit. Not fair. Not after the rabbit infestation we withstood for two years. 

Not fair, says I. Get Jade the Dog! Turn the hound loose! She is a rabbit-killing machine (had lots of practice for those two years).

No! No! says John the Softie. 

What? says I. Death to the rabbit!

Says he: It must be a pet. 

A PET? says I. 

O, look at it, says John the Softie, I think it wants to be picked up. 

No, not really. 

It took him two days to catch it in the dip net, put it in the dog kennel and take it to the pound. Horrors. 

If you are missing your “pet,” you now know where it is.


The leeks are very happy living in five-gallon buckets on the porch with a couple of inches of water in the bottom. I will leave them there until it is absolutely necessary to bring them in, then they will live in the refrigerator until there is room in the freezer, which could be a while. 

The freezer is stuffed.

I harvested the Brussels sprouts by cutting the stalk and sticking them into another bucket. There are beets and red cabbage out there keeping them company. I think they chat, wondering where they will end up. They, too, will hang out on the porch until I need to think of something else. 

Storage. I don’t have it. You would think, after all these years of being faced with the same dilemma, that I would have this solved. Nope. Some things never change. 

I hacked back the roses along the boardwalk that leads to the entry. I had a vision of trick-or-treaters getting their costumes hung up in the roses and we would forever have goblins/soldiers/princesses scattered about. Not a good thought. 

Also, as fall lingers, we know that snow can’t be too far in our future and the thought of shoveling with the roses hanging over the walkway was not appealing. Think about this if you have a similar situation, you need room to shovel, it will come. 

Get your tools clean and put away so everything is ready for next season. What a thought, next season. See you then, have a good winter!

Rosemary Fitzpatrick is a longtime Homer gardener. She has been writing Kachemak Gardener since 1990.