Last fall when my husband planted the five daylilies in the front of the little house up north, he put the dirt and grass he removed into a plant pot in the garage. Today I was doing the final weeding of the year, and needed a plant pot to throw the weeds in. I dumped the dirt and dry grass into an even larger pot, and went about weeding. When I was done weeding I realized there was a fair amount of mulch I had pulled with the weeds.

Before I had even started weeding I had moved two earthworms from the driveway to the grass. They would have died. They were drying out. I like earthworms. They are great for the soil.

So I had saved a couple earthworms and they were now on their way back to do what they do, I had half a plant pot of weeds and mulch, and some dirt and dry grass in another plant pot. Where did my mind go? Compost.

I put everything together, minus the two worms of course :), put it in an area where I am going to finish a lasagna style garden next year, and walked away knowing I didn’t end up putting all that into the garbage. It’s not official compost, but the weeds and the mulch and the dry grass will mix together with the dirt and the rain that is coming and it will decompose. Go forth and make a good foundation for next year’s completion!

(That tree you see by the base of the shed is coming out. It was there when we bought the house, I didn’t get on that, and my husband knew I was wavering. But that’s no place for a tree, so … )

Rain, Rain, please don’t go away

Up at the little house it has been nice and rainy. Even some thunderstorms. The kind that arrive in the middle of the night and provide that cozy, “just listen and enjoy” treat.

There are a lot of “next year” projects remaining, but for now, the gardens are settling in until spring, the seedlings, rootings, and divisions are doing well, and the deer are leaving them alone. I need to weed (see below) but for now, let it rain.

The Big Lake (Lake Superior)

There is no lake for me like the Big Lake (Lake Superior). She is so majestic, and her personalities are awe inspiring. Some days her water looks like diamonds. Some days she is deep blue. Some days she has striations. Some day days she is angry, and crashes up on the shore with awe inspiring power. She carries huge ships with unbelievable weight in cargo. The ship’s honks can be heard at various ports – long, strong sounds of greeting.

I grew up knowing Lake Michigan. I have been to the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and lakes all over the U.S. and Europe and nothing quite awes me like Lake Superior. I can’t get her out of my system. I feel so much joy when we reach our first view of her, and I crane my neck until I can’t see her anymore when we leave.

On this day she was exceptionally beautiful and the clouds were agreeing. There is an island on the shore of Lake Superior at Grand Marais. I cannot tell you how many times we have been on the shore at Grand Marais – 40? 50? Every once in a while we traverse the island. Entering is like going into an ancient forest. It is dense. And then you come out at the lake again, with a view back to Grand Marais. It is so stunning, and awe inspiring. The rocks ARE ancient – some of the oldest in the world.

Here’s a few pics I caught of her that day.

Afterward we stopped for a couple donuts (again, incredible!) and then stopped at the co-op to get our favorite – dark chocolate covered almonds. 1 pound. Being reasonable – hahaha!

Then up the Gunflint Trail we went. But that share is for another day.


With the initial year’s build out of the little house gardens wrapped up, thoughts turn to fall monitoring and clean up. The new gardens now just need continual weeding as the mulch bed settles in.

There were no gardens at the little house when we bought it, only grass and trees. Year 1 (last fall), while we were doing the reno on the inside, my husband put 5 daylilies in a front grassy area by the sidewalk. That’s where I began the build out this spring, using sedum transplants from an overgrown area in the townhouse gardens. Here’s what that front area looks like now.

It looks like all five daylilies survived, and the three sedum divisions are doing well. I can’t do much more there until we decide on next step home improvements – front porch, siding …

Putting mulch in all the garden areas somehow stopped the deer from munching. I don’t understand that, but my latest theory is that the deer might not care for the smell. I’m just thankful. As long as that continues to work I will stay that course.

I had considered hiring for the landscape build out, but I kept running into roadblocks. I’m happy now that happened. I am enjoying a new process I hadn’t even considered before – the lasagne style build out. Cardboard right on top of the grass, plants in soil, cover with 3-4″ mulch. The transplants, rootings, and cuttings all seem to be doing well with that method. I make sure to give them a good initial watering, and then follow up with watering as needed.

Yesterday’s post showed the completion of the garage to shed area build out for the year. There is a tree that needs to come out yet, and then the rest of the shed side can be finished next year.

As is my nature in projects, I do a test, observe results, and build in layers. That’s what happened on a larger scale in the back gardens. It went from all grass, to a 4′ x 5′ area on the shed side, to a 2′ addition on that side, to a 4′ x 8′ start on the garage side, then hopped the sidewalk to the back of the house where I put in 3 weigelia rootings, and then back to the garage side where I finished up yesterday. Here’s a few pics of the progression.

In the little house gardens, I decided to use grass paths. That will be way less maintenance, and we can just do one mower pass through there. Plus, call me daring, but the lawn at the little house is old, and full of up north flowering weedy things I actually like, so a bit of that along the path is something I liked the look of this year. Reminds me of the wildflower nature areas along the shore, in miniature.

Next year’s plans are to start a garden at the back of the yard and move the alpine currant and the weigelia rootings there. That will free up the current weigelia garden area. If I then make a parallel garden up by the house along the second long downspout, those two garden areas would flank the area where we sit out. I envision hosta and daylily tiered hedges there. I love that combo, and there is just enough, but not too much sun there to nurture both. The mulch should also help.

There is also a thought floating around in my brain to start a sedum hedge on the side of the house, but that might have to be a “slow to go” project. I am no spring chicken, and a couple advil were needed after yesterday’s build out work.

All this depends on the deer continuing to leave the mulched gardens alone. They do seem to be eating the apples from the apple trees, and that’s great. Less for me to clean up.

So at the little house, year 2, initial build out, there is now monitoring left this fall, and at some point, daylily and hosta greens cutback. I plan to leave the sedum standing until spring, as a test, to see if the birds and bunnies enjoy that winter snack.

7 bags of mulch later

The weather up north is getting chilly. Fall is here. The window for transplanting is not very far out.

Before (Sandy, our dog, was supervising)


The additions were four Blue Mouse Ears hosta divisions (left front), one large Praying Hands hosta (center), a lot of cardboard underlayment, and seven bags of mulch.

The garden build out up north is for all purposes now done for the year, as well as prepped to receive 2022 daylily seedlings (pollinator creations) and sedum cuttings (propagation) next year. I may bring up a few more daylilies, a sedum or two, and another clump of Blue Mouse Ears to divide over the right side of the Praying Hands hosta yet this fall, but I’m happy as is if I don’t.

My husband is not keen on transplanting the clematis, so those are still at the townhouse. We’ll see if they make the shift.

The alpine currant is still by the shed. It’s a bit too late to move it now, so next spring that will move to the back of the yard.

The weigelia rootings are doing awesome! If they survive the winter, they may also get moved to the back of the yard. I’m now dreaming of daylilies and hostas along both long gutter extensions.

I honestly never thought the gardens would be this far, but I am very pleased the foundations are now in place to build on.

Rest well, new gardens.

Fall decorating – Sedum style

The Autumn Joy sedum are exceeding expectations at the little house up north, and to my amazement, the deer are leaving them alone. I’m more seriously considering a sedum hedge now. In my mind I can see it along a mostly sunny side of the house, where bees on the sedum would not affect much. I could do a test run with sedum rootings alternating with irises. Deer do not like irises, so that could be a deterrent.


Tender Love daylily – first year bloom

Last fall I bought a dozen daylilies to start the garden at the small house up north. Only five, however, got planted there. We were swamped with interior work and my creativity was just not flowing for the garden. I need think time sitting outside looking at an area for my garden ideas to gel. We were barely having any time out in the potential garden areas. And I was a bit nervous about the deer. So, the other 7 new daylilies got planted at the townhouse. A few came up in the townhouse gardens this year, the most exciting being the very late blooming, fragrant Tender Love.

I can already tell I will buy more. They feel like they will be like Blue Mouse Ears hostas to me. Each year I added more until I literally ran out of room in the area. I think Tender Love daylilies will be the perfect companion to the Blue Mouse Ears hostas, each shining at their own time, in the front of the garden.

An aside – Yes, that is clover in the garden. I left some for the bees and bunnies in the early years and it stayed. I pull it when it gets too much.

Back to the Tender Love daylilies Blue Mouse Ears pairing 🙂 Soon a bunch of the Blue Mouse Ears hostas will make the transfer up north. Not all, but some that need dividing and are crowded. Dare I move the Tender Love daylily too? Or splurge and order a few for up north?

The cheap in me says move it. The tender heart in me says it bloomed so perfectly right where it is, leave it. It is quite dainty. We’ll see how the remaining bud survives the landscape maintenance. That will probably be the decider.


I am being cautious about bringing up plants that are under the Linden tree. There are tree roots, yes. But more concerning are the Japaese beetle bugs. They lay eggs in the soil. I don’t know if the eggs would survive the move, but I really don’t want to give them the opportunity.

So unfortunately, the Marque Moon daylilies, many of the hostas, the pink Asian lilies… Will all stay.

But the hostas outside of that area, and maybe a PurpleD’Oro need dividing and will go up north.

Maybe yet this fall, but more likely next spring.

It’s a lot.