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(post, Deborah Madison)
Well, so much for my big, beautiful lovage plant. While I was in Mexico my husband emailed that no matter how much he waters it, it’s turning yellow and limp. True the weather was in the scorching realm, but when I got back I took a look, gave a gentle tug, and the whole wilted plant came up in my hands. Heartbreak. The hole was a big one — no furry little mole with its flipper feet did this; instead, I suspected a gopher. But in surveying the damage, I had a chance to see how far the roots of the lovage had grown and how tough they were. I took the advice of one of the people who commented on the lovage piece, rescued what leaves I could, then wrapped and froze them. If the medicinal qualities apply to gophers, this one’s going to be one mighty strong beast. And who knows what it’s eating now? I was ready to call Critter Control and bypass those annoying traps with a does of poison when, from the kitchen, I heard my husband go “Whoa!” Going out the back door he had nearly stepped on a gopher snake! The snake hung around for a few minutes, and we admired it. It was not a huge snake, maybe a teenage snake. But the signs were good. We want gopher snakes. A second snake, perhaps the parent for it was a great deal larger than the first snake, showed up on the porch in the middle of lunch the next day. I have to say my friends were pretty cool about having a large snake at their party, and they didn’t get all hysterical about it. We left the snake alone until he or she sidled out into the garden, hopefully in the direction of the gopher. I find it amazing how the snakes seemed to appear out of nowhere, and I’m glad I didn’t call for the poison, as tempting as it was. So, that’s how it goes in the plant world. I see that angelica didn’t quite grab people the same way lovage did, but I went back and looked at the plant this weekend. Its “bud” is about the size of small person’s head! It’s going to be one heck of a bloom!