June is the month when all our garden dreams come true. Flowers are blooming merrily in every size, shape and color. Tomatoes, peppers, squash and other mouthwatering and soul-satisfying crops are giving their best. Blueberries, peaches and plums offer up their juicy sweetness.
Even if you haven’t grown all those things, you can still enjoy them. The many farmers markets in our area are bursting with fresh food. Pick-your-own farms are open for business and fun. Roadside stands, farm stands and neighborhood swaps are other options. June is just a fine time to enjoy the bounty of nature and time spent reconnecting with the natural world.
It is a great time to just enjoy the outdoors. The weather is still temperate enough to go out into the yard and wander around in the morning or late in the afternoon, enjoying the literal fruits of our labor. It is also a dandy time to get acquainted with things we didn’t grow, didn’t invite in and often don’t even notice.
One of my favorite garden creatures is the anole, a mostly green lizard that loves to live in shady, woodsy places. For many of us, that includes the shrubs that grow around our homes. As a result of their living nearby, they often creep out to look around. You can find them on porches, stairs, even the sides of buildings peering here and there. Because they are territorial, they’ll sometimes be looking for invaders. If they sense a threat (or are falling in love), they will puff up the skin under their chins into a bright red balloon and bob their heads up and down. Apparently this behavior is both thrilling to females and threatening to other males. For us, it is just fun to watch.
These interesting little creatures are also garden helpers. They eat spiders, grubs, crickets, cockroaches, moths, flies and other bugs they think will fit in their mouths. As they move about, their color ranges from green to brown hues, blending with the background and making them sneaky hunters. Some people keep anoles as pets, but I prefer to just enjoy them in the wild and let them help with pest control.
Frogs, toads and other small amphibians are also helpful in controlling pests and fascinating to watch. They often appear when we have rainy weather and along the edges of ponds and other waterways.
Bird-watching has been a popular interest since the early 19th century. You can enjoy the hobby in your own backyard and know that birds are making your garden better. Of course, birds can be a mixed blessing. That mockingbird that feels compelled to eat half of every cherry tomato just beginning to ripen causes me to repeat to myself again and again: “It’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” Most birds eat much more than tomatoes.
They eat insects big and small and help keep a balance between pest and predator. Birds eat grasshoppers, stink bugs, and all sorts of garden pests, particularly in June when they are busy raising hungry young families. Provide them with water, plants that make berries, cover in which to hide and nest and birdseed for an occasional snack when bugs are scarce. In addition, they will sing…