The Garden at Winterhaven Devas, Nature Spirits, Fairies Oh My
One of the advantages of organic gardening is that it encourages a balance that attracts birds, butterflies, bees and other wildlife.

We have a lively frog, toad and snake population that has grown steadily over the years. The frogs are mostly tree frogs.

tree frog

This little guy is only about 3/4" long! He's sitting on pieces of Doug Fir cones that are only 3/4" across. Most of the tree frogs we see hang out by our hot tub. They seem to like the moisture that accumulates around the lid. I love to sit and listen to them at night as they croak away. They have such big voices that they sound as if they are huge and it's always such a surprise to discover how little they are.

I don't have any photos of the toads. Most years there's at least one that takes up residence in the planting bed in the greenhouse. They're pretty good sized and can be 3 to 4" across. For a number of years I had one that lived in a pot of parsley on the back deck. When I came out to snip parsley for dinner about half the time he'd sit really still and pretend he wasn't there, the other half of the time he'd leap off the deck down into the sword ferns. That could be a real shock to a visitor who wasn't expecting it since it's a pretty good drop. But he was always back the next day safe and sound.

We have a very large population of garter snakes. We see them all over the garden, including sunning themselves on the tops of the compost piles and out on the driveway. I'd read several places that they ate slugs and so I was happy to provide them a home. Then a couple of years ago Walter caught one in the act of eating a pretty good sized slug.

Snake with slug

He was so involved in getting the slug down he stayed still for a long time while I photographed him.

Snake eating slug

As you can see, the slug is way bigger than his head but he still managed to get him down. With this evidence in hand, I'm even happier to have a yard full of garter snakes both large and small.

We also have lizards and salamanders. The lizards like the greenhouse and the rock piles along the fence lines. The salamanders like damp places like the water shut off box and the deepest parts of our woods.

Walter fed the birds for years which attracted stellar jays, gross beaks, nut hatches, chickadees, and the like. He's cut back to just providing suet because the squirrels became a major problem in the feeders. Now we get nut hatches, chickadees and all sorts of woodpeckers. This Pileated Woodpecker came to the feeder last summer.

Pileated Woodpecker Pileated Woodpecker

We have a flock of Varied Thrushes that come through every winter and hunt for bugs by turning over nearly every leaf and piece of mulch in the yard. When I discover all the moss on the edges of the driveway has been turned over, I know who's been through.

We also get occasional visits from raptors. We've had a hawk swoop down into the garden, snatch a robin from under a lavender bush and fly off. We've watched an owl grab a little flying squirrel out of a tree and fly straight at us with his prey when we were out soaking in the hot tub. And most summers we get to listen to the Osprey cry as they teach their young how to fly just down the hill from us.

Over the years we've been home to a number of cotton tail rabbits. Usually they hide out in the squash patch and come out and eat dandelions in the early evening.

Cotton tailed rabbit

Last year we had a mom and her babies living in the blackberry brambles on the south side of the property. She was very fond of broccoli leaves and wheat grass and actually made enough impact to reduce my yields so that we had very little broccoli at all.

We always have a few deer who come through each year too. They usually hit my roses just before them come into bloom--eating both the leaves and the buds. There have been years when I've sworn I was going to give up on the roses entirely but then the deer move down into the valley and I get the later blooms and relent.

They usually come at dawn or dusk and seldom hold still long enough for me to run and get my camera. But one summer I caught this one in the early gloom.

Deer in the garden  Deer in garden

Aside from eating roses they also like the leaves of strawberries and fruit trees--though our trees are tall enough now for that not to be much of a problem. One year I had one come through and eat the center of each of my pea vines so the tops all died and the pea crop was very small. Ah well, it's the price you pay to share the world with lovely critters.

We also have had visits from raccoons who stripped all the fruit from the grape vines and all the late apples off one tree one year. The good news is that they usually don't hit my earlier crops so I'm happy to share.

And of course we have a lively population of both the native Douglas Squirrel and the imported Grey Squirrel and the native nocturnal flying squirrel. Some years we have chipmunks but not always.