Garden Dilemmas, Delights & Discoveries, Ask Mary Stone, New Jersey Garden blog

Sharing Comfort & Perennials

a fox pup hidden in a fox den

Hello fellow readers, Walking Jolee the morning after attending Comfort Zone Camp, a grief camp for kids, became a reflection of cherishing the season’s magnificence unfolding. We count on it from year to year; some may take it for granted. Others marvel with gratitude.

I notice the light green foliage of forsythia coming in, mixing with the golden flowers, still plenty to enjoy. It propagates by layering. Branches bend atop the soil and readily root. Perennials are emerging, too, inviting us to divide them to share with others, reminding me of a column long ago worthy of a refresher.

a red pot emerging green hosta perennials ready to be divided

Perennials (Hosta) are ready to divide.

When to divide and share perennials

Many say it’s best to divide spring and summer blooming perennials in the fall and fall bloomers in the spring. That way, all of the plant’s energy can go to root and leaf development rather than flowering.

But I believe most perennials recover better if divided in early spring, just as new growth emerges no matter when they bloom. The root systems are full of stored energy and are less likely to suffer physical damage and leaf evaporation, known as transpiration. Plus, the young foliage is easier to dig around. (There’s more how-to on Dividing Perennials link below).

Jolee came upon a fox den

If I may share a story that occurred before leaving for Comfort Zone Camp. I volunteered as a “floater,” a behind-the-scenes role, allowing me to attend a lifelong friend’s milestone birthday party on Saturday. Michele lost her husband unexpectedly in June.

I spotted Jolee in the woods midway up the hill behind the vegetable garden while getting into my truck to head to camp Sunday morning. Curt blended into the scene wearing a moss-colored hoodie.

a fox pup hidden in a fox den

Jolee found a Fox Den

a momma red fox in the distance watching her fox pups

The momma fox is watching over.

“We found a fox den.”

“Is Jolee interested or fearful of the pups?”

“No, she’s more focused on the squirrels.”

The pups likely smell like other dogs, which she loves, unlike her predecessor Miss Ellie Mae.

After camp, while having dinner, we could see the three adorable fox pups, also called kits or cubs, frolicking. I grab my camera and attach the zoom lens. Branches impede a clear shot, but I notice the momma fox on a fallen tree watching over.

Charlie Mackesy – Sharing Comfort

One of the gifts I gave Michele is a book also given to me. ‘The Boy, the mole, the fox and the Horse,’ illustrated and handwritten by Charlie Mackesy. I cherish my copy read several times; each is a new experience. Today an excerpt in the intro rang out, “I hope this book encourages you, perhaps, to live courageously with more kindness for yourself and others. And ask for help when you need it— which is always a brave thing to do.”

a group of kids and adults in a circle high-fiving below a Comfort Zone Camp sign

Comfort Zone Camp

Asking for help is being brave was shared during the memorial service, the concluding event of the weekend camp also attended by parents and guardians. Indeed we need each other, especially during tough times.

In Charlie Mackesy’s book, the boy and the mole, meander into the wilderness.

“It’s the wild,” said the mole. “Don’t fear it.”

“Imagine how we would be if we were less afraid.”

Asking for help is brave. 
red fox sleeping in lawn

Photo by Lachlan Gowen-Unsplash

Then the boy and mole are sitting on a branch in a tree looking at the stars and moon. A red fox walks below them.

In the next scene, the mole is not afraid of the fox despite his rant: “If I wasn’t caught in this snare, I’d kill you.” The mole chews the wire to set the fox free. They become friends.

Then comes profound wisdom from the mole. “One of our greatest freedoms is how we react to things.”

This morning while taking Jolee out for the first call, she launches out like a racehorse for squirrels; none are in sight. But there’s the momma fox sauntering up the hill, keeping a watchful eye on her den. We both stand silently, watching her. Garden Dilemmas? (and your favorite Podcast App.)

There’s more to this story in Episode 43:

Related stories:

Foxes in the Garden

Dividing Perennials 

Dividing Iris 

Meaning of Memorial Day featuring Comfort zone Camp.

 More about Charlie Mackesy 








Mary Stone, owner of Stone Associates Landscape Design & Consulting. As a Landscape Designer, I am grateful for the joy of helping others beautify their surroundings which often leads to sharing encouragement and life experiences. These relationships inspired my weekly column published in THE PRESS, 'Garden Dilemmas? Ask Mary', began in 2012. I dream of growing the evolving community of readers into an interactive forum to share encouragement and support in Garden and Personal Recoveries - seeking nature’s inspirations, stimulating growth, weeding undesirables, embracing the unexpected. Thank you for visiting! Mary

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