– Posted in: Pests, Plagues, and Varmints

Tunnels in crocus bankThis is a photo of my beloved crocus bank. The driveway runs roughly east to west, downhill all the way. On the south side of the driveway, the lawn runs down fairly steeply to the driveway, forming a bank that I have planted quite densely with crocuses. The crocuses are just getting started, but it is obvious that depredations occurred over the winter under cover of snow. Voles. This bank faces north and, with snow shovelled off the driveway piled on it, is one of the last places to lose its snow cover. Although I have trouble with voles all over the property, they had never found the crocus bank before.

Winterrowd and Eck, in A Year at North Hill, tell how one spring they had no crocuses at all, because they had all been eaten. After that, they could only grow them in containers with hardware cloth on top. I have tried that with crocuses in my garden beds, but I couldn’t do it here. For one, there’s too much area to cover. For another, there’s no topsoil to speak of. The crocuses are planted in subsoil, and I had to drill a hole with a dibble to plant each one.

If the voles eventually decimate the bank, I’ll have to replant with bulbs that are poisonous to rodents: snowdrops, daffodils, colchicums, and I don’t know what else. But in the meantime, I can hope and pray that the voles forget they ever dined here. Yeah, right.

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

In the end, this may be the most important thing about frost: Frost slows us down. In spring, it tempers our eagerness. In fall, it brings closure and rest. In our gotta-go world–where every nanosecond seems to count–slowness can be a great gift. So rather than see Jack Frost as an adversary, you could choose to greet him as a friend.

~Philip Harnden in A Gardener’s Guide to Frost: Outwit the Weather and Extend the Spring and Fall Seasons

Comments on this entry are closed.

Kathy April 2, 2004, 7:02 pm

Update: now the yellow (golden, actually) crocuses are blooming . . . so I don’t know what to think. Am leaning more towards mole as the culprit. There aren’t actually that many crocuses missing.

Kathy March 30, 2004, 7:34 am

If you clicked on the “Click here to read more” you will see that I came up with several ideas for replanting, including daffodils. I’m still not sure whether it was moles or voles. Voles usually don’t throw up dirt like that; moles usually don’t make runs that are exposed to the surface. And certainly not all of the crocus are eaten. Tons more have started blooming since I wrote the post, including some that are actually growing in the tunnels! Not one yellow crocus has shown up. Could it be whatever creature did the damage only ate the yellow crocuses? How’s that for strange?

ilona March 29, 2004, 12:40 pm

What a disappointment! Never fear…there is always a remedy. Daffodils are supposed discourage these varmints, so you might plan to plant some of those beautiful early blooming small varieties like “tete-a tete” around and through the crocus. Even if it doesn’t completely deter the eating of the crocus, you would have spring color and dainty plants.

What do you think?

Karen March 27, 2004, 5:16 pm

That’s so sad, I am so very sorry. I have the same problem, the voles are so bad here I can only grow a fraction of the things I was accustomed to at other locations. My cat helps, but only so much.