"The greater the work the more
important it is to establish it on
a solid foundation. Thus it will
not only be more perfect; it
will also be more lasting.”

St. Louise de Marillac

“Be diligent in serving
the poor. Love the poor,
honor them, my children,
as you would honor
Christ Himself.”

St. Louise de Marillac


Hearts with Nature

By S. Georgia Kitt

Donna Collins

Neighbors (from left) Sisters D Fritz, OSB, and Donna Collins, SC, join efforts to grow their gardens and to say ahead of the occasional four-legged friend.

Donna Collins grew up in a family of gardeners; it is in her DNA. Each spring she is again called back to planting seeds and tending the soil. After retirement she and her neighbor, S. D Fritz, OSB, began ‘talking across the fence,’ sharing garden stories and trying new ways to stay ahead of the small animals in their Dayton, Ohio neighborhood. The fence between them became invisible and they joined efforts against the four-legged friends while reducing the size of their plots. This summer’s adventures are shared below.

As gardeners S. Donna Collins and her neighbor, S. D, can clearly identify with Beatrix Potter’s rascal rabbit Peter and some of his friends who slipped under the garden gate. Their ‘Peter’ enjoyed this year’s first planting of beans, leaves as well as stems; by the third planting 2-liter bottles (tops and bottoms cut out) protected each plant, finally giving the humans a crop to enjoy. Other four-legged friends – the squirrels – preferred the Roma tomatoes, but happily passed up those plants which were surrounded by marigolds. Sisters Donna and D are tasting success with regular tomatoes where plants have grown to more than 5 feet tall; they are producing an abundance of fruit, which they usually share at their annual Tomato Fest with the Sisters who formerly lived on Sherwood Drive. (Due to COVID-19, it is cancelled for this year.) 

‘Peter’ and a few of his friends sneaked under the garden gate to also munch on the leaves of the pepper plants, but dried animal blood (Deer Off, a commercial product), discouraged them from spending more time there. Sisters Donna and D are hopeful that a generous bell pepper crop will follow. They remind themselves that watchfulness and patience are essential to any gardening adventure. Their first time planting potatoes continues to show promise; leaves are lush and green!  

It has been a season of trying to stay ahead of their four-legged friends, experienced by most gardeners, but more acutely this summer in their Dayton, Ohio neighborhood. The children’s book, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, from more than 100 years ago, remains a reminder for all of us: garden plots and greens are enjoyed by more than humans. Nature is where we meet.

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