Talk is not DO

As a student, I was definitely not drawn to history. Seemed like an awful lot of talk that may or may not be factual. Math, now there you have something! My love of math turned into a love of data. I am an analyst at heart, and by trade, with a whole lot of love for data driven project planning and implementation (“DO”) in the mix. Analysis is for a purpose – to inform on a course for future “DO”. And, yes, at the root, we analyze data based on history.

I fell in love with a history and political science guy, oh so many years ago. What a pair we have made all these years. Me wanting to dig deeper, find patterns, analyze trends, and him exposing me to things in history and politics which, to me, often make absolutely no logical sense.

Along the way I got interested in gardening and was particularly interested in the gardens at historic forts we visited. Those made sense – food, beauty, for the family, for the community. I used my love of data to study what would work in different areas of our yard. I started building out gardens. I found I liked plants with history, plants with a story to tell.

Alas! The kids grew up, we made the bumpy transition to townhome living, and my sprawling, sometimes out of control gardens came to an end. Townhome bylaws. But my analytical mind said why not petition the board to put in our own landscaping? What’s the worst they can say? No? They said yes – three times – initial plantings to augment the shrubs, and two expansions.

I have pretty decent gardens now at the townhouse – ones that kept my gardening mind busy for 18 years, gave me 9 months per year of exercise, and one that neighbors and friends say they enjoy. Remember we garden as much for others as ourselves. Wherever we may be.

We have also spent a couple decades now of time in northern Minnesota, and it is me who digs into the history there. It gives me perspective, appreciation of a much more rugged, challenging time, and really makes me appreciate all the incredibly hard work, personal sacrifice, and an attitude of resourcefulness that was exemplified in that time. It is a thing of beauty that explorers can come to areas that are maintained for them, purely enjoy, spend little to no money, experience time away from the stress of the city, and then drive away with no committment to better, or even maintain it. The “right” to enjoy all that now is because of all the “DO” respecting nature, yet making that beauty accessible, that was forged by those before us, and is done on a continual basis on our behalf . I am grateful.

And now we come to my latest thoughts. On my micro scale, I always wonder what positive, lasting, move forward “DO” I can contribute to continue what others before us have accomplished. I like to do that through gardening. I love to leave tiny trails of garden love and share abundance. I am reasonable with what can be used, and cognizant of what I can physically accomplish, but I still love to share and “DO”.

So I have a friend who quietly goes about this. She researches history, she shares her findings, and she and her husband have maintained the grounds of a historic cemetary when others walked away, when there is little money for “DO”. There is money for supplies, but “DO”, like cut the grass, trim the trees – that is volunteer. They fight for preservation of that history in a beautiful way that honors those interred there. Those that gave their lives to country, those that gave generously and served community selflessly, those whose place of interment would be left unmaintained because there is no money attached. And those whose contributions and life lessons would be lost as part of history informing further “DO”.

My friend and her husband challenge me. I have things to give. I have more plants to divide. Plants I won’t use at the little house gardens up north. They might look nice at the cemetary. A little trail of positive contributions. We garden just as much for others as ourselves.

The hosta pictured below can go to the cemetary in the spring, if they want it. It is an “Elegans” hosta. It could be divided into 3 pieces and form a lovely start to a woodland edge garden, away from the beaten path and not adding to any mowing complexity. Some cardboard, three hostas, some mulch. A little “DO”. We’ll see what spring brings as far as additional ideas and “DO”.


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.

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.


Space is something I have very little of in the townhouse gardens. It is rare I can add a new plant without it looking crowded. I love the look of daylilies tucked in between hostas, or is it hostas tucked in between daylilies?

However, I made a tough decision this last week. Daylilies gotta go. I know – what? Here’s the deal. The new landscape maintenance team at the townhouse is awesome at blowing cut grass and fallen leaves out of the rock. Really awesome. Really really awesome. The gardens all have rock. There is a lot of collateral damage lately. Mostly to the daylilies. Why have daylilies when they don’t survive for their day? So I made a decision. A lot need to go. Up north. This fall.

What holds up way better against the blowers? Small to medium hostas. I have plenty of those, too. Maybe I should divide a medium-sized hosta and put it in this space.


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.

What’s going – #3

I have 8 Blue Mouse Ears hostas. You might say I am a bit fond of them. They are, well, blue. One of my favorite types of hostas. And they have lavender flowers. And they are disease resistant. And not once has a mammal eaten even one leaf. The leaves are tough.

They have been in my garden for a long time, and they need dividing. So 3-5 will go up north.

I want to put them along the sidewalk to the back yard, but that area needs love as well, so for now they will go along the gutter extensions of the new gutters we needed to put in this past spring. Hint, there were no gutter extensions on the old gutters. Bonus, I don’t think the deer like the new gutter extensions. Hoping to keep it that way.

What goes – #1?

It’s the second week of August. The Marque Moon is still blooming, one other daylily, and the hostas. Things are slowing down.

Today I sat outside and looked. What goes to the new gardens up north? What is crowded here? What is overdue for division?

#1 is one of the Patriot hostas. Poor guy. It got too much sun, it was a drought year, and I suspect the lawncare provider oversprayed weed killer – hint the grass is also dead along the pavers.

He needs some love. He needs a change. Maybe somewhere where there’s no need for weed killer. Somewhere where the yards are old and full of mini strawberries and wild daisies – if we let them grow. He might just prefer mulch to rock. We’ll see.

Pack your soil Patriot hosta. You’re moving north.

A Tale of Three Gardens

There is something about an early morning walk in the garden that stirs the soul, makes the mind relax, evokes thankfulness. Wait, define garden.

Sunday morning, after having been up to the land that is now designated “camping”, I thought, “Why do I enjoy an early morning walk there, but not through our extended neighborhood in town?” I used to. So off I went, sans dog who declined the opportunity.

Once I got going, I decided to take an old route. That route is a tad bittersweet. It is past an area that used to be a beautiful long garden on an edge of one of the park areas. The original homeowner who was adjacent to the park area had petitioned the city to plant a beautiful garden there and invested quite a bit of time and energy. It was a delight to many, and I was one. When the original owner of that beautiful garden moved, the new homeowner did not have the same love for gardening. It began to return to a wilder look. For a while I spent time on the weekends trying to maintain it. In the end, although my mind wanted to save it, my body could not. Working away from the home during the weekdays, and having other weekend responsibilities, it was just too big of a project. I took time to heal my body after pushing it way too hard, nature marched on, and eventually I altered my walking path to avoid that garden. I remembered its prior beauty and had a hard time watching it return to wild. That was quite a few years ago.

This morning I decided to walk by that area. It has returned to it’s natural state. It is a different look. Not bad, just different. Whatever thrives, dominates. And the weeds and lilac bushes won.

Enter garden one – on our “camping” land. It is many years past my experience with the park garden. My perception has changed because my personal gardening experiences have broadened. Evidenced by tens of thousands of ferns that thrive and dominate the “camping” land, there is not much chance of keeping a cultivated garden without daily care. Goodness knows I tried! But I have made peace with that. We cut the living area back in May – September so I don’t (hopefully) get a tick born illness (again) and we enjoy the natural state. We bought it in a natural state, I tried to tame a small portion to exercise my hobby, and I lost. That trial.

Enter garden two – Back to the townhouse neighborhood. “Goodness!”, I thought on my Sunday morning walk, “Our lawns, our trees are looking mature this year.” Two weeks ago many of the trees were still budding. The cherry trees were blooming and a delightful treat. Now they are wrapping up and the maples and lindens are starting to shine. I cannot claim working on those. They are the work of hired professionals on behalf of the association. But I enjoy them immensely. A different kind of enjoyment than the “camping” land.

The gardens at our townhouse are also thriving. The hostas, daylilies and sedum are my daily effort, and are continuously cultivated. The large amount of rain we had this week, along with warm temperatures for a few days in a row made the garden flourish. Literally things tripled in a matter of a week. Including the carpet of maple seedlings, which I will also “cultivate” – right into compost.

It’s all good.

1 1/2 weeks ago

I would like to move more of the townhouse garden to garden three but … we have deer … bedding in the back yard … at the tiny little house we plan to retire to … some time … to be determined. Maybe it’s good that they don’t seem to like a little area where I hid a Rainforest Sunrise hosta? It is 9′ x 7′ there. Is that nature’s way of reining in my gardening endeavors for the future? Out front of that little house I lovingly planted sedum this spring. Morning one after planting, I looked outside to see if the deer had feasted overnight. “Success!” I tentatively claimed. Morning two? Yah. Not “Success!” And the same with the five daylilies we planted there. They will all have to move to the 9′ x 7′ area.

So that is the tale of my three “gardens”. I’m learning with each new experience. One could say I’m actually down to two gardens now. Except for the iris and daffodils that are naturalizing at the “camping” land, the rest remains wild.

I wonder sometimes – when we move to the little house, will the daily maintained gardens at the townhouse remain in a tended state? I hope they will. Time will tell. Time a little ways out yet. We just welcomed our first grandbaby. Gotta hang around the townhouse neighborhood for a little while yet.