Yikes!! I almost stepped on a beautiful little scarlet king snake this afternoon as I was headed out to get the mail. After a second or two of the initial shock of ALMOST STEPPING ON A SNAKE for crying out loud, and then reciting that snakey ditty—”…red on black, poison lack…”—I did an about-face and ran indoors for my camera. But in the minute or so it took me to get back out side “Miss Scarlet” had vanished.

garter snake

scarlet king snake

This is just a reminder to you Southern gardeners that this is the time of year when all those slitherin’ serpents are heading for higher ground and their winter hibernation headquarters. You are liable to see them sunning themselves in a warm and quite corner, or maybe traveling across your yard Welcome them into your environment, and let them pass unmolested. They are some of your best—probably the skinniest too—of your gardening allies.