Animals in the Garden

Collection Notes

We have a lot to learn from the animals in the garden. It’s just a matter of paying attention.

Usually, the animals in the garden are deer, rabbits, skunks, or other critters intent on eating our strawberries, cucumbers, and herbs. At least, those are the ones I often think of as I reimagine ways to keep them out of my precious vegetables. But there are other animals in the garden – helpful animals like birds and pollinators like bees. READ MORE

Bill Dugan


Lily Bushes

When our good friends Kirby and Naoko Rude made a last-minute request that we babysit their pet guinea pig while they vacationed, I didn’t flinch. True, I wasn’t a pet person, but I had grown a marvelous tropical garden from scratch. Flowers, fruits, and vegetables filled our dinner table. How hard could it be to look after a little furry mammal for a couple of weeks?  READ MORE
Woman listening to bird singing

My Little Chickadee

Birds have always fascinated me. I keep a bird feeder or two (or three) and enjoy seeing who shows up for a meal. The showy cardinals, goldfinches, and blue jays are always a treat, and I listen for mockingbirds, rare in this area but not unknown.  READ MORE
Cat and Farmer

Cats in the Garden

What makes a true garden cat? I would say one who accompanies the gardener on his or her rounds, helpfully dispatches grasshoppers (but not birds or butterflies), stays within boundaries—and always stops to smell the flowers.   READ MORE

Pondering with Walden

The comforting brush of warm air that stroked my nose during a February thaw here in eastern Pennsylvania woke up my Spring fever. I grabbed seed catalogs and lovingly fingered the pages, as if I could feel the cool smoothness of green leaves through the paper.  READ MORE

Three Goat Vignettes

I pull into my daughter’s driveway with two baby goats in the back of the Honda Fit. Kahlista, my granddaughter, and two of her playmates run out squealing in joy.  READ MORE

Dances with Beetles

I am not a fan of bugs, specifically, Japanese beetles. I attribute my strong feelings to one particular incident I refer to as “Dances with Beetles.”  READ MORE

Barley Flowers

When my husband landed his dream job, we gleefully packed our bags and headed north to Maine, where we’d always wanted to live. We hadn’t looked very long before we found a sweet, neglected old Cape.  READ MORE

Is That a Rabbit on Your Head?

When I moved from Hawaii to a small Massachusetts town west of Boston, bonding with nature took on new meaning for me. Springtime in New England arrives right after mud season.   READ MORE

Ravens vs. Crows

It started with the death of my daughter’s horse. The cost of hiring someone to come with a truck to load and cart off its thousand-pound body was daunting, so I agreed to inter Kristina’s beloved Arabian pony near the root cellar, a good distance from the house.  READ MORE

The Changing of the Guard

Late every Summer, the grasshoppers appear in the horseradish. Temperatures start dropping fast here in upstate New York after these guys show up: anything that won’t stand up to a frost needs to be gathered up.  READ MORE

Deer Gardens

Don Quixote was just fine until he began reading books. I think gardening books were what got me. At night I’d pore over lush photographs of gardens from New England and Germany and France. I wanted them all. It was an innocent diversion while we were renting.  READ MORE

Batty for Bats

This Fall I had a nasty surprise. I hadn’t suspected my roof was leaking, but it turned out to be so deteriorated that there was no choice: I had to get a new one before Winter. So on one of the last fine days of Autumn, I sat in the yard and watched as the old one was pulled off, filling a huge dumpster.  READ MORE

The Cowbird Way

Blessed with the luck and luxury of a backyard, Pierrette and I found ourselves spending quite a bit of time outside last summer. Pierrette gardened with her usual energy, and I pitched in when I had to—or wandered away to check out the wildflowers.  READ MORE

A Cat’s Garden

My cat Koko was such a soul. We were meant to be together. When Koko died, I felt lost. I went outside to walk in the garden.  READ MORE

Sharing with Sheldon

I will never forget the day that I came home from work to find my husband Kim puttering around with a new glass terrarium. A terrarium? Kim? What was going on? As I got closer, I saw a bumpy, olive-colored, egg-sized lump half buried in sawdust. It stirred, and a tiny head emerged.  READ MORE

Mama vs. the Blackberries

Pruners in hand, I stood below the massive holly tree and stared up at the mishmash of green berries and pointy glossy leaves shooting from the thick, vertical canes of the dreaded Himalayan blackberry plant.  READ MORE


I am an inveterate salvager. When I married in 1950, I learned that a person could buy for next to nothing century-old furniture that would last another century or so.  READ MORE

King Roscoe, His Royal Hineyness

On Thanksgiving weekend, 2005, I brought home a tiny little Shizhtu peekapoo puppy that we named Roscoe. I thought he might be a good companion for my husband, someone to keep him company while I was gardening. He was a sweet little complacent puppy—until the day I took him for a walk in the park.  READ MORE

Chester the Toad

Back in February, I was moving some potted plants from my Chesterfield, Virginia, home to the Green Bay (Virginia) weekend farm that my son and I own. When we arrived Friday night, I set the plants (begonias, aloes, and various others) on the kitchen table with its northwest window.  READ MORE

Snail Wars

The snails almost got me, and they were trying, that was for sure. It was me against wave after wave of those ravenous monopods—and all I was doing was planting green beans in my first garden. Okay, maybe I didn’t know much about gardening, but the seed packages said growing beans was easy.   READ MORE

The Lucky One

Birds battle in my backyard. Sparrows wage war over the birdbath, the feeder, and a convenient perch that gives them access to both. Their best vantage point is at the bend of the downspout between the rooftop and a tall spruce. It often becomes contentious because there is room for only one sparrow to reign…  READ MORE

The Seven Years Beer

The python slips shoulder-first out of the bromeliads. (I know, snakes don’t have shoulders, but it leads with the bit of itself that would be one.) I leap backwards—and my harvest basket whangs me in the head.   READ MORE

The March of the Tree Frogs

The neighbor’s cat was on our deck railing, and it was obvious from the way he stood—crouched, head bent, still—that he was up to no good. I slid open the patio door and stepped outside to check. There, directly under his nose, was a plump, gray-and-brown tree frog.   READ MORE

Tinkerbell’s Tale

Tinkerbell first started visiting last year, when her owner (if cats could be said to have such things) moved in two houses down. She’s become the darling of the neighborhood, our little wanderer.   READ MORE

My Private Microcosm

I didn’t know when I received the seeds what they’d bring. My daughter and I were walking our dogs in Huntington Beach, California, when we came across school kids offering envelopes of free seeds: “Asclepias curassavica—Tropical Milkweed.  READ MORE

My Little Visitor

Last summer while I was picking raspberries, I had a curious little visitor—a hummingbird. First she dashed by, but then she did an about-face and hovered just two feet in front of me. I stopped picking and stood still, pleased to be so close to this tiny creature. Suddenly, just as quickly as she came,…  READ MORE

Chicken Tomatoes

I love to grow tomatoes. There’s nothing like home-canned sauce, so each year I grow at least 30 tomato plants. For a number of years, I also raised chickens so that I could stock the fridge—and the neighbors’ fridges—with fresh eggs.  READ MORE

Fauna in the Flora

A while back, I decided I needed one area of my life where I could take a break from technology, one area where I could remain a beginner. As Proust said, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”  READ MORE


Since I was old enough to remember, I wanted to have a farm, not 160 acres of corn, but a New England type, family farm—fruit trees, a berry patch, chickens, vegetable gardens, maybe a cow, bees, a greenhouse, a few pigs.  READ MORE

Meaningless Meanderings

My eyes were barely open as I sipped my first cup of coffee. Mmmmm, breathe. Again. Mmmmm, breathe. Again. Mmmmm…As soon as my brain circuits reconnected, I began planning my day. I am a list maker. The List is usually way too long.  READ MORE

Cat Attack!

It was a lovely spring day here in the always moist and verdant Willamette Valley of Western Oregon, where gardening year-round is possible, if not mandatory, for someone with compost in her soul.  READ MORE

The Great Ladybug Escape

It all started with my noticing puckered, corrugated leaves on my river birch. It is still a young tree and susceptible to the ravages of critters and disease.  READ MORE
Girl holding a cage

Saving the Ducks

One Spring morning I was pulling weeds in the flower bed while Craig, my husband, mowed the lawn. I inhaled the sweet smell of freshly cut grass and took pleasure in the yellow daffodil blossoms trumpeting Spring’s unmistakable return to Indiana.  READ MORE
Woman holding a chicken

Note-Toting Chickens

As a child, I lived next door to my grandmother, so I came to know her pretty well. She loved her flowers. She had flowerbeds around her house. There were rows and rows of irises. And beautiful peonies lined her driveway all the way to the road.  READ MORE
The Tomato Cage Caper

The Tomato Cage Caper

I have gardened organically on the same plot in West Lafayette, Indiana, for almost 60 years. After all that time, I fancy myself a pretty good grower of tomatoes.  READ MORE
Death in the Garden

Death in the Garden

I am a Southern organic gardener on the Louisiana Gulf Coast, near New Orleans. We plant early here, knowing that by mid-July, our tomato plants become shriveled, yellowing, bug-chewed masses of vines with little more to show for themselves. I started in mid-March, with successive plantings throughout the garden in April and May. By late May, my March tomato vines were seven feet tall and brimming with ripening fruit. By early June, the first crop had already been harvested with many more coming in to take their place.  READ MORE

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