Tag Archive for voles

Crocus in spite of voles –You Can Grow That!

When I moved to my current home fourteen years ago I had visions of wonderful drifts of crocus blooming in response to lengthening daylight and slowly warming temperatures of late winter in south-central Connecticut. I planted groups of crocus bulbs right outside my front door, on either side of the walkway near the porch steps, where nearby hardscape would hold the warmth of the sun and beckon the crocus to bloom as early as possible.

I don’t recall the exact year I first planted these crocus, but I found a photo from 2004 showing how one clump had expanded from a small group of earlier planted bulbs.


Here is a clump a year later, in 2005, peeking through snow.


By 2006, the clumps on either side of the walkway had multiplied to about a foot in diameter.


These late-winter to early-spring bloomers delivered much joy to my winter-weary soul.

Then voles moved in.

Though I continuously flattened the vole tunnels I found running through the areas where these crocus were planted, the bloom numbers continued to decline. Each year they bloomed more sparsely until only a couple of blooms, from bulbs voracious voles missed, came up.

I have an ongoing battle with voles in my gardens. They seems to consume, from underground, much of what I’ve planted over the years while deer do the same from above.

I had nearly given up on having crocus in this spot when I learned about tommies – crocus tommasinianus – a type voles were reported to avoid.

I learned about tommies from a fellow blogger in response to my April 2011 post about voles eating my crocus, so in the autumn of 2011, I purchased two types of tommies, Crocus tommasinianus ’Barr’s Purple’ and ‘Ruby Giant’ and went about planting them in various places in my gardens – some frequented by voles, some not.

I was thrilled to see the tommies pushing up through the chilly late winter soils this past March.


Though the winter of 2011-2012 was mild in Connecticut, and voles had ample opportunity to tunnel through this planting of tommies, they still bloomed. Here’s how they looked 11 days later.


The ‘Barr’s Purple’ variety I planted elsewhere also bloomed beautifully, though, for some reason I have no photos to show.

The true test of the vole-resistance of Crocus tommasinianus will come with time … vole populations increase and decline according to many conditions, including weather and predator populations. I won’t yet, after just one year of watching, claim tommies as completely vole-proof. However, my experience with tommies shows that gardeners should never give up … You Can Grow That! Even if I get only a bit of joy from my tommie crocus blooms, it’s worth it.

You Can Grow That! is a blog meme seeded by C.L. Fornari at Whole Life Gardening, to remind everyone that gardening is good for people. It enriches our senses, our food, our health, fosters friendship and increases ones appreciation of nature. C.L. enlists the garden-blogging world to spread this news in posts on the fourth of each month. Read You Can Grow That! posts at Whole Life Gardening and at the newly created You Can Grow That! website.



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March 2012 Blooms in Connecticut

What a glorious few days … warm temperatures, strong sunshine, and blooms popping out all over. Time for spring bulbs to shine if they can escape the creatures so active in my Connecticut gardens.

Voles have managed to find most of the crocus I’ve planted. I imagine them gorging on crocus bulbs till full then happily transporting any unconsumed bulbs for storage elsewhere along their tunnels.  I’m sure they giggle at me under their vole breadth as they rearrange my crocus. I now have single bulbs  blooming here and there in places I never intended them to be. So much for planting in groups! I once had a beautiful stand of crocus planted on either side of my front steps right where they were most noticeable from the front door. Used to, until the voles ate their share and rearranged the rest.

Last autumn – on the promise of vole-resistance – I purchased Tommies, Crocus tommasinianus. I don’t yet know if they are truly vole-deterring or if my vole population declined because of no snow or the fox that found my front yard so appealing last summer, but the Tommies are blooming exactly where I planted them. These are ‘Ruby Giant.’



For many of the previous years my Tete-a-Tetes, one of the earliest blooming narcissi, were visited by a hungry deer just as they began to poke their fresh green shoots out of the ground. I’m sure the deer, who are not supposed to like narcissi/daffodils, were just as anxious to see greenery as I. Nonetheless, when I found my emerging Tete-a-Tetes with their tops chomped off, I hoped they caused the four-hooved forager to have an upset tummy.

Here’s what they looked like exactly one year ago.



This year, the garden idea fairy bonked me in the head with the old, rusty pitch fork remnants I have here and there. The head bonk worked. I came up with this method of protecting the Tete-a-Tetes and so far, so good.

These Tete-a-Tetes may be blooming in a pitch fork jail, but they are doing so with all leaves intact.



Today is Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day, a celebration of shared blossoms from across the globe, a garden party hosted on the 15th of each month by Carol at May Dreams Gardens. You can visit there to see what’s going on in Carol’s garden and find links to all the garden bloggers who share their gardens with the world today. If you need a pick-me-up this is the place to find one.

Garden thoughtfully,


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