Compost, Critters and Fritillaria

Another update from the Wild Kingdom of Faery Gardening. This morning features hopefully my last truckload of compost and soil. I ordered a lighter blend and 1/3 less than last time, so I also hope to finish today rather than in tomorrow’s 87 degrees! We shall see. I had planned to get the delivery yesterday with its balmy high of 75 degrees; however, I had a backlog of email sessions to do, and my arms needed a break after this weekend’s picture hanging activities. In any case, today is soil delivery number 2. I’ll fill the second 100 gallon Big Bag Bed and as many more 10 gallon Vivosun pots as I can, at which point I should be done until fall planting time.

Meanwhile, we continue to have hours of entertainment in both front and backyards. This kitty on groundhog patrol found the catmint:


I’m beginning to think she’s a he, because the cat leaves quite a scent — to my nose anyway. It’s not spray, and David only barely detected it; however, I’m more than part animal. When I walked outside this weekend, I could smell that something had claimed the garden, and judging by no more nibbles in front or backyard, I assume it was the cat.

Later in the day, when the groundhog peeked out of his hole, he lumbered over to the catmint, took one whiff and zoomed back down the hole. They’ve had a few encounters — no actual fights that I’ve seen anyway, but plenty of stalking, whistling (the groundhog), huffing and puffing on both sides. Perhaps as a result, the groundhog has stuck entirely to clover and behaves quite respectfully rather than swaggering around like he owns the place. David saw him this weekend and said, “You have to admit, he’s kinda cute, but WOW is he fat!” Yep. As long as he sticks to clover, he can get as fat as he likes. I still haven’t figured out if he actually lives under our shed or in the evergreens across the street.

Even if he does live across the street, the cat’s got that covered. The front yard garden (and just the garden) was even more scented (to my nose) than the backyard. You can see the kitty up front telling everyone who’s boss. He seems to have picked up any slack between hawk and owl:


Speaking of owls, we finally got around to hanging the painting I finished in January 2010:


I painted this owl from a photograph taken of a great horned owl I called in the middle of the day. This one and a mate showed up on a sunny afternoon in Reno, but I changed the photo to a Full Moon night. (This is the painting that will be mentioned in Mike Clelland’s new owl book, whenever that one comes out.) In any case, we figured it couldn’t hurt to display prominently a painting of an owl I had called, as intentional support for my ecological balance project of calling in a great horned owl. Over the years, I’ve found that just having hawks, owls and cats around keeps things in check, even if no real skirmishes or hunts occur.

So far so good … but one thing having an open, relatively small garden does is make me extremely grateful for every moment I experience it. Every tomato, cucumber, green smoothie, salad, or basil pesto feels like a celebration. Every morning when I see still blooming, lush plants I feel gratitude that deer and smaller critters with big appetites have left the birch tree with its spiral of friends and us with good views and the ability to “shop the yard” just a few steps from our house. Knowing something could but didn’t decimate the garden overnight keeps me from taking any of it for granted. It’s hard to explain, but it takes gardening into the range of Grace and gifts.

Similarly, the absence of train noise fills me with glee on a daily basis. Each afternoon when I hear the distant horn of one Amtrak train through town, I feel so incredibly grateful for quiet joys. Even the groundhog provides some (at this point harmless) company, and his existence has really clarified the entire garden design, including a soon-to-be Secret Garden out back.

Because of my ongoing quest to create a garden that repels deer, groundhogs and overly zealous bunnies by beauty, energy, and harmony rather than by imprisoning my plants, I’ve discovered Fritillaria bulbs. I’ve seen these before in garden catalogs, but they seemed kind of flashy and weird. Apparently, though, they’re highly prized bulbs both for their wide, unusual and dramatic variety of flowers, as well as because rodents and deer despise Fritillaria. Even more than daffodils! Here are just two of the many types:


Fritillaria (Wikipedia, public domain)

Fritillaria from Longfield

Fritillaria I ordered from Longfield Gardens

Other Fritillaria look like foxglove, with tiny bell shaped flowers on tall stems. I didn’t bother with tulips this year, even though I have a half-Dutch husband. Every critter and their mama loves to munch on tulips, so I opted to forego frustration, temptation and wasted money, splurging instead on hundreds of daffodils, various Fritillaria, and one reblooming fancy iris to go with the many yellow irises already established here, plus the varieties I brought from Goshen.

I just received word my soil and compost are on the way, so it’s off to work I go — soil in the morning and afternoon, sessions in the evening. I look forward to being done this phase, though. I have a bunch of perennial butterfly plants on order for delivery in the next couple weeks, but other than that, I can hopefully coast outside until the time comes to plant hundreds of spring bulbs. Years of beauty, bee forage, butterfly habitat, and critter deterrents for less than the cost of trapping one groundhog — all in harmony. What’s not to love!?


11 responses to this post.

  1. Thanks for sharing the final finishing touches of your garden until fall. The peace and harmony you have created already is palpable. Love the orange and yellow fritilleria. As I also live in deer country (which I love), I will remember fritilleria for the future. I currently have calla lilies which the deer never touch.

    So glad there are so many happinesses for you in your new home. Including a “just right” size garden.


    Liked by 1 person


    • Thank you, Sky! I hope you grow some fritillaria, too. It will be interesting to see how effective it is. Hopefully, it won’t also be a Laura repellent, LOL! Sometimes my sense of smell gets me in trouble. 😉 I’m really excited for spring, though!



  2. Harmony indeed! Beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person


  3. […] magic continues at our new place. The wonderful neighborhood cat, who so successfully shooed away the groundhogs and scents the garden whenever bunny nibbles get too …, has taken to napping with me, just outside the sliding glass door. Whenever I decide to take a […]



  4. Posted by birdlady612 on October 6, 2017 at 11:55 am

    Sounds like you have a lot going on. We have a groundhog as well and he destroyed most of my flower gardens this year. If he would stick to the fallen birdseed, which is what brought him to our yard, I wouldn’t mind. He is cute, and fat. We also have multiple possums, skunks, raccoons and bunnies. I love to watch all of the activity on our new outdoor Nest Cam. 🙋

    Liked by 1 person


    • As far as groundhogs go, this one is pretty well behaved, hence my not wanting to have a different, less compliant groundhog replace him. Too funny about the Nest Cam. I was just telling my husband I want to get a camera to see what’s eating one sacrificial kale plant. He laughed, but I am truly curious. Is it a rabbit? The groundhog on a new round? Deer? We have so much wildlife here, especially for being within walking distance of everything I need. Enjoy your show!

      Liked by 1 person


      • Posted by birdlady612 on October 6, 2017 at 1:12 pm

        Check out my latest post for a bunch of pictures and video clips of what we’ve seen on the Cam.. It’s so cool! Good luck with the critters..😃

        Liked by 1 person


  5. […] the sacrificial kale. We have returned to our old understanding, even though I’ve not seen the guardian kitty since […]



  6. […] story I tell in Mike’s chapter involves an owl painting I completed in late January 2010. This painting now hangs in David’s and my new living room. This past weekend, that very same painting came alive in synchronicities. After teaching the Reiki […]



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