Gopher and other Critter Control – Harmless

Got cats?


Talk about great recycling!

Clumps from clumping kitty litter (used, of course) are the best control for Gophers, Voles, and other burrowing creatures in the garden.

Last year, I was very upset to see two big gopher holes – one at either end of one of my flower beds. I absolutely will not kill animals for doing what they do to survive, and I don’t let my two cats out to hunt because here in the high desert, there are too many critters that hunt them. (That is my sweetheart, Bunnie, in the photo. She is only allowed to hunt indoor bugs, and she is great at it, so I call her “Bugs Bunnie”.)

But I figured our cats could help with this anyway. If the gophers *thought* the cats were out there, they would probably want to move on.

So, I took urine clumps from the cat box and dumped a couple into each “doorway” to the gopher tunnel. The next morning I was astonished to find five volcanic “craters” along the course of the tunnel. Those gophers had exploded out of there, and run for the hills!

I use the clumps in flower beds where I don’t want critters – just a few scattered around will do, and randomly around the perimeter of the house to ward off snakes – who have a great sense of smell and don’t like cats either.

You can’t smell them outdoors, and neither can all your birds, who do not have a sense of smell.

If you do not have cats, find a neighbor who does – and who uses the clumping litter. I just gave a bag to my next door neighbor the other day. We made a lot of jokes about her coming over to pick up her “treasure”, but her Gophers aren’t laughing. Or at least, we don’t think they are, but we can’t be sure, because we don’t know where they went!

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The best fountain secret in the world . . .



I have mentioned before that I have been involved with fountains for a long time – almost 20 years now, so keeping a fountain clean has been on the top of my priority list.

And I have tried every commercial product on the market. Some of the most highly recommended actually caused algae to bloom much faster! Chlorine keeps swimming pools clean but it destroys portable fountain pumps and is not healthy for the birds who love to splash and play in the fountains in the garden.

The final solution was right here in the medicine cabinet all along, and is very inexpensive – Hydrogen Peroxide.

I keep hydrogen peroxide in the house for wound cleaning for us and sometimes for the dogs if they get a scrape – like from climbing a tree, if we are talking about my Malamute/Husky, for example.

And I will never forget the other-worldly redhead I became when I used Hydrogen Peroxide as hair bleach in the eighth grade. Even my own mother didn’t think it was pretty.

But, who knew Hydrogen Peroxide was an awesome fountain cleaner all this time? And almost magic in the way it works. I have seen it clear a green and murky fountain to crystal clear water in 24 hours.

Of course the idea is to act before your fountain is green and murky, but that just doesn’t seem to happen.

It is smart to take your fountain apart and clean all the parts periodically, but even if you constantly recycle the water like we do here in Santa Fe – because it evaporates so quickly, you are bound to get algae bloom. And let’s face it, we don’t always do our scheduled cleaning chores – of fountains or anything else, on time.

Pour a generous amount – about 1/3 – 1/2 of a  16 oz bottle into the fountain water. The amount depends on how big your fountain is – I use the half bottle for my birdbath fountains and less for smaller bowl fountains.

Nothing will happen right away – but give it a day and you will be shocked to see every bit of green slime gone and your fountain returned to crystal clean beauty.

It does not hurt the wildlife either, because it turns into oxygen by the time those 24 hours are up!

And all this magic is at your supermarket near the band-aids for about $1/bottle!

Try it – you will be SO happy you did.

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It’s Easy to Have a Fountain


Because the effects of a fountain are so profound, we sometimes think it is a complicated or expensive endeavor to have one, but that is far from the truth.

This is one of the four fountains currently running in my garden. See the plume of water between the two birds? The tiered planter, I got a couple of seasons ago from Sam’s Club. The fountain is just contained in a ceramic bowl sitting in the top section of the planter.

And that is all it takes – a bowl or other container that holds water – plus some rocks, some water, and the most important part – a pump. I added a couple of ceramic birds to this one.

Back in the early 90′s I actually invented the first portable indoor fountain. As a part of that procedure, I researched pumps and came up with my favorite – which I still use today.

mini-jetpumpsIn fact, I was buying a couple of extras online this morning, when I found an amazing sale – less than wholesale, in fact, so I thought I would share. The sale only lasts through tomorrow. Both pumps have adjustable flow, and are small. The 404 is perfect for a bowl fountain, and I use the 606 to create big birdbath fountains because it has more power.

Basically, all you do is set the pump in the bowl or birdbath – it has little rubber suction cups to keep it in place – place some clean, pretty rocks around it, use the slider on the pump to adjust a high or low flow, and add water. The pumps only use 4 watts of electricity and plug into an ordinary outlet, and of course, the water is recirculated so there is no waste of water either.

The upward reach of the pump can be extended with a bit of tubing from the hardware store size is 5/8″ ID. With an extra inch or two of tube, you can pile the rocks higher and have the water flow up higher than the rocks. Moving your rocks around varies the sound.

The 404 is $10.46 and the 606 is around $13.50 at this link, which goes to the 404. Use the Search box there to find the mini-jet 606:

Garden Grace will be back to tell you proud new fountain owners a few good maintenance tricks – but first, go get that pump – time’s a wastin!

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Making use of old “stuff”


Jessica and I had a wonderful “mini-trip” to Colorado. While in Durango, we ate like queens. One spot in particular was the Cypress Cafe.

What a charming place. I snapped this picture outside the front door and thought about how creative this idea is…AND how it makes use of something that probably got rusted and has holes in the bottom (perfect for drainage).

barrel garden

I have a friend who has used a claw foot bathtub for gardening as well as a sunken bed frame with head and foot railing. She calls it her “flower bed.”

Clever people out there!

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Hummingbird Feeder Alert!!

Hummer copy


The first Hummingbird of the year (in my yard, anyway) arrived just before a lovely snow storm the other evening! I fretted all night about its survival. There were no flowers and the feeders weren’t out. Well – mine were out, because I quickly cooked up some nectar, and ran back outside and hung the feeders amid the fat wet snowflakes.

My flying friend was back the next morning to my great relief.

Hummingbirds must consume their weight in food everyday and they need even more food to survive the nights that are still dropping to freezing temperatures.

Feeder Alert

There are very few flowers for these tiny birds to feast upon, so it’s time to get those feeders out.

Recipe for Nectar:

4 Cups Water + 1 Cup Sugar (or any 4-to-1 measurement). Heat to boiling, stirring just until the sugar is dissolved. (No red food coloring or dye!). Cool the mixture to room temperature and fill the feeders.

The Hummingbirds  will thank you!

Photo Copyright 2009, Jessica Wesolek

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Fried Egg Flowers & My neighbor’s TULIPS!


I’m not sure what kind of flower this is. But to me? It looks like a fried egg!

Room with a view

This picture is taken looking out the window of my guest room. We have a huge hedge (bush) in the front yard with these eggs all over them. Every time I walk past, my mouth waters a little. Pretty, huh?

Now, here’s a story to warm your heart. I just LOVE my neighbor, Malinda. I showed you her new landscaping last fall and now that the sun/rain have been doing their thing, her yard is a beautiful sight to behold.

Recently, my sweet neighbor found out that my favorite flower is the TULIP. She planted all these gorgeous tulips for ME to look at from out of my office window. She said, “I planted these for you to see from your meditation chair (upstairs bedroom window) and office.”

Look at my view (minus the weeds on my side!)

My neighbor's tulips

Here’s the view from Malinda’s side. That’s my office up there with the bay window.

My tulips
Tulips are not Malinda’s faves. She did it for me. Wow. I’m touched and lucky to have such a giving friend. Thanks, Malinda~!

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Lemon Tree Very Pretty


My Meyer Lemon Tree has moved in!

What is it like to get a tree in the mail? A little scary, actually.

It was very cold outside and I rescued the box as soon as it arrived, let it warm in the kitchen and opened it – afraid to find a frozen tree.

But it was very much alive – its root ball wrapped in plastic.


I was a little concerned that some of the leaves were a bit dried out,


but there were more healthy leaves than not.


I chose a container with about three times the soil capacity of the root ball . . . and filled it with my all time favorite potting mix – Fertilome.


It is important, according to the grower, to cover only to the top of the root ball. I did that and fertilized with a liquid fertilizer – adding a bit of acidic fertilizer too.


And here she is in her new home in the garden room. So far, she seems quite happy with the move.

You notice I am calling her a “she”. I would like to name her. Do you have any good name suggestions?

My source for this tree was

And I am well pleased.

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Thinking of Spring . . .


I just had to share this link – these are such beautiful flowers and “drawing” them is so much fun!

Do a “Print Screen” and save yourself a bouquet.

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Amazing Art from Mother Nature.


In my travels this week, I ran into two nature scenes that caught my attention.

leaf stamp

This leaf, outside of a coffee shop was the perfect “nature stamp.” A bit of rain and a slight breeze (to peel it from it’s image). I happened upon it at just the right time.

Then, as my friend Mary and I pulled up to the labyrinth site where we took a “Mary Birthday Walk”,  we spied this spot of red-orange on the lawn near the gardens.

I thought it was one of those lawn ornaments that you buy at a garden store.

red mushroom 2

As I got closer, I realized that this was a HUGE mushroom (my picture doesn’t show you that it was about 7″x7″).

red mushroom

Here’s an aerial view. Wow. Looks like someone took a bite. Wasn’t me. Mary?

Mother nature, you sure do like to get our attention, don’t you?

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More About Meyer Lemons


OK, so when I saw this picture of the box of Meyer Lemons my sister is sending me, and everybody started talking about wonderful lemon recipes, I got a little crazy.


Maybe obsessed is a better word – with the idea that just maybe I could grow my own. You don’t see a lot of lemon groves here at 7000′ in the Rockies. So this has to be a garden room container type project.

I started doing research. I always knew my sister’s lemons were much sweeter than most lemons and a little orange-y. Knowing nothing about it, I thought maybe they cross pollinated with an orange tree.

And way back there somewhere, they did. Or a mandarin orange tree anyway. The Meyer Lemon is thought to have originated in China and to have been a combo of the lemon and the mandarin orange.

They proliferate in California (hmmm – should I move back?) and here is more than you even want to know about what they are and how to use them . . . from the LA Times

100 Things to Do with a Meyer Lemon

So, next to get the growing info . . . and of course I found a site called

Where I found out everything I wanted to know – container size, feeding, watering, pruning.

So I ordered a tree  from them – yes I did!

Then I started thinking about planting some from seed, but found out it would be 7 years or so before the seedling would become a fruit bearing tree. I learned so much more here . . .

Lemon Tree Very Pretty, etc

I am so excited I am just about hopping up and down. If my goofy tomatoes are doing as well as they are, Meyer Lemons should flourish. And the smell of the blossoms indoors – yum! And the leaves are so pretty!

I have never bought a tree online before, so I will share the experience when it arrives..

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