i stepped out to the kitchen garden with my coffee yesterday morning (as i do every morning) and was greeted by the most beautiful spider i've ever seen. she had spun a web, about two feet in diameter, anchored to the side of the house, the kumquat tree, and the hinged side of the screen door (the web had enough resilience so that the opening and closing of the screen door did not damage it). i did a quick search and found out her name is Argiope aurantia, black and yellow garden spider. when i saw her i was reminded of the garden spiders i saw as a child at my grandparents house---though i don't recall them being as brilliantly colored as this spider.
the zigzag woven through the center may serve as a visual warning to keep birds from flying into the web.
her body was a little over an inch long. her leg span was probably a good two inches across and probably easily spanning three inches diagonally.
i didn't see her this morning but hopefully she's still hanging out nearby. spiders are a good sign of biodiversity and a healthy garden. they're an encouraging sight---even my dear, arachnophobic staal, enjoyed seeing her, at least briefly, and that's also encouraging.