Category: Garden Design

Crocus in bloom

Crocus in bloom signals the start of the growing season in my zone 6 gardens in Connecticut. Planted as bulbs during autumn and early winter before the ground freezes, they pop out of the ground as the soil begins to warm each spring.

Though often considered an easy bulb to grow, gardeners with voles may find their crocus plantings devoured as winter food. Voles tunnel under ground and remain active throughout the winter season. Finding a group of crocus bulbs must be exciting for hungry voles. The bulbs not eaten are often carried to other sections of their tunnel system, I suspect, for future meals.

Such activity is evident in my gardens. Years back I had two large groupings of lavender-hued crocus planted on either side of steps leading to my front porch … an area that receives lots of late winter sunshine. They bloomed beautifully, year after year, until found by voles. It was heartbreaking to learn the entire planting had become winter fodder.

In my reading of various garden blogs, articles, and catalogs I learned that Crocus tommasinianus varieties, commonly called tommies, are vole-resistant. The variety Ruby Giant is featured below.

Crocus tommasinianus Ruby Giant

Crocus tommasinianus Ruby Giant

Now tommies are the only type of crocus I plant. Voles leave them alone, so I can safely expect their repeat bloom year after year. I love how they pair with the gold-tipped foliage of the still small arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis ‘Filip’s Magic Moment’) planted inside my back yard fence.

Crocus tommasinianus Ruby Giant in front of a  young Thuja occidentalis 'Filip's Magic Moment'.

Crocus tommasinianus Ruby Giant in front of a young Thuja occidentalis ‘Filip’s Magic Moment’.

The non-tommie crocus bulbs originally planted more than a decade ago have not completely disappeared though. They pop up here and there in spots where voles must had dropped or deposited bulbs while traveling through underground tunnels. I smile when I see these ‘transplanted’ crocus in bloom … reminded that I am not the only designer of my gardens.

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Beatrix Farrand – designer extraordinaire

Have you been to a garden or landscape designed by Beatrix Farrand? If you’ve walked the campus of Yale or wandered the grounds of Harkness Park or Hill-Stead Museum you know she was a landscape and garden designer extraordinaire.

In December 2014, the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame released a tribute video to Beatrix Farrand, who lived from 1872 to 1959. Farrand was one of the first women to practice landscape architecture and she left us with beautiful spaces to enjoy.


Her designs are timeless and deserve to be protected, tended and enjoyed. Farrand’s reach certainly extended outside Connecticut, as you’ll find when visiting The Beatrix Farrand Society website. But some of her wonderful work can easily be enjoyed during day trips in CT.

As noted in The Connecticut Gardens of Beatrix Farrand in Connecticut Magazine, Farrand preferred to be described as a landscape gardener.

“A garden, large or small, must be treated in the Impressionist manner,” she once wrote. “Plants are to the gardener what his palette is to the painter.”

That’s a garden design concept that speaks to me, and one we can all follow to help us paint our gardens with plants.


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