A new flower and an old foe

I've made a couple of interesting discoveries lately. One is a nice one, and the other is not so nice. I'll start with the nice one: my black stem taro (Elephant Ears) is flowering! I didn't even know they produced flowers, but there it is.

It's quite a large bloom. I can't say that it's the most impressive flower I've ever seen, but it was totally unexpected and therefore exciting. Maybe it's only exciting to a gardener.

Maybe it's only exciting to me.


There are actually two of the three plants that are producing flowers. I first noticed it a few days ago, when I saw what I thought was a sickly-looking leaf starting to emerge.

Instead it turned out to be a yellow flower. This other plant produced two of them, although the first one withered before it opened. You can see its brown droopiness on the left:

These flowers seem quite exotic, so I expect they will attract something special... maybe a huge nocturnal moth, or a fruit bat or something similar. Probably not, but that's what I envision.

The second discovery is unfortunately an old foe of mine: a woodchuck.

A few years back I had a big problem with woodchucks (or maybe you call them "groundhogs" instead?). There was an adult female and her two young 'chucks wreaking havoc on my veggie garden. Woodchucks are also the reason I stopped growing as many ornamental sweet potato vines as I wanted to -- they would eat pretty much every leaf. They even climbed the stairs and ate the plants that were on the deck.

For the last two years though, I haven't seen any woodchucks at all. Well, maybe I'd have a single sighting every couple of months, but they weren't coming anywhere near my yard.

Until yesterday, when I saw this youngster in my neighbor's yard. That's not a problem as long as it doesn't come over to my... oh no, here it comes!

No, no, there's nothing over here you want to eat. It's too scary over here, you'll never be able to relax! Plus, there are hungry bears in my yard... and tigers. You really don't want to come over here!

I wasn't convincing him. I watched through the kitchen window as he came right up to the house, sniffed around a little, then went under the deck. That's when I decided to go outside and scare him away. Luckily they scare pretty easily in my experience.

I think the next time I see him I'm going to run after him and chase him as far away as he'll go. The one thing I do not need around my yard in the spring is a hungry woodchuck, eager for the exotic taste of fresh bamboo shoots.

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