Our little Shih-tzu was thrilled to find a turtle in our back yard one day and happily sniffed and nudged it, totally spooking the poor thing into its shell. So I wasn't able to see it clearly or get good photos until later on, without Maggie's interference. I have checked our field guide to Florida, hoping to identify this new friend, but did not see one exactly like it. The highly domed carapace resembles the shells of a couple of turtles from the mud and musk turtle family, but those listed in the field guide were quite a bit smaller than this one, which had a shell about 8" or 9" long. The similar turtle shells shown in the guide were also plainer than this one, without the interesting markings. This turtle's under shell (or plastron) was hinged so that the turtle could raise the front portion to completely close off the openings for the head and front legs after they were pulled in. I plan to do more research on-line when I have some time, but perhaps some of you readers will recognize this lovely beast.
The other photos show our mandevilla vine a few weeks ago at the end of its flowering for the season. It is one of my favorites, with clear, bright pink blossoms. This year, rather than simply clambering on our fence, the vine has a new wrought iron piece to climb. We purchased it from Scott Hornbaker, a talented artisan from St. Mary's, GA who brings his works to our weekly outdoor Riverside Arts Market. My husband admired this piece so much, I decided it was a perfect Father's Day gift (he thought so, too). You can see Scott's artistry at his web site.
I am fortunate that my husband, Mark, loves to work in the yard and has become a Master Gardener since we came to Florida. Guided by his mantra, "right plant; right spot" and his research into using Florida natives in our yard, he has beautified our home on every side. If I feel stressed and need a refreshing break, all I need to do is to step out the door, breathe deeply, and stroll around. Beyond the little fenced-in back yard area, we also have an overgrown, wilder area full of ferns and shaded by evergreen Laurel Oaks (a relative of the better known southern Live Oaks) with a small creek at the very back. You can glimpse that area in the back yard photo in my last post from earlier this week. The creek is probably the home of our turtle friend, who has not ventured up close to the house again since our small dog gave it an over-enthusiastic welcome.
Question of the day: What outdoor delights have you found at home or nearby in recent weeks?