This garden bed reflects the neglect of the past two years, when I was physically just not up to gardening. This year I hope things will be different, starting today! After I finished taking this picture, I severed the one horizontal limb that was clearly dead. Then I started clearing away all the dead grass, and guess what I found? Vole headquarters! There is a vole tunnel that runs almost the entire perimeter of this bed, as well as some tunneling under the grass around this shrub. I should mention that most of the time, voles do not throw up dirt when they make their tunnels, and, especially under snow, the tunnels aren’t even completely subterranean. That is one way you can tell whether you have mole or vole trouble. The chart here summarizes the main physiogical differences between these and other small rodents, and this article gives suggestions for control. I have tried trapping voles before, with limited success. I mean, I do catch some, but enough to make a difference? Right now I am just trying to expose as many tunnels as I can to make the job easier for predators, and now that the snow is gone, I hope the neighbor’s cats will come hunting.
Now, the digging and dividing of perennials, the general autumn cleanup and the planting of spring bulbs are all an act of faith. One carries on before the altar of delayed gratification, until the ground freezes and you can’t do any more other than refill the bird feeder and gaze through the window, waiting for the snow. . . . Meanwhile, it helps to think of yourself as a pear tree or a tulip. You will blossom spectacularly in the spring, but only after the required period of chilling.
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