Planning time – a rookery?

In response to me describing attempting to grow daylilies from seed and growing sedum from cuttings, I once had someone tell me I had “a rookery going on”. I wasn’t quite sure about a rookery. I thought that was for birds. I thought they meant nursery. I just smiled. Looking it up, I saw it also meant crowded, not so nice housing areas. Well, la-ti-dah! But you know how it is – things come back to mind and bring a smile. That comment comes back to mind this morning, as I am fondly, now that I have the freedom to do it, considering a nursery garden. But where?

Here’s the idea.

In the summer next year, if I have the energy – lol – start the build out of a hedge on the side of the house. Sedum rootings at first. Make maybe a 4′ x 5′ strip, plant 3 or so sedum cuttings, and see what happens. I know it is risky, that is on the apple tree side, the “deer highway” part of the lot, but it could work, maybe. If the deer leave them alone, I could add some pollinator created daylily seedlings from the 2021 starts that need to be moved, and maybe some coneflowers, which are supposed to be deer resistant.

Worth a try …

My own little “rookery”.


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.


What about the sedum?

I have mixed feelings about moving the sedum. They are such a resilient plant, and super easy to propagate if they do get damaged. Literally if a stem gets broken, I stick it in dirt, it roots, and I have a new sedum plant.

I really like the fall color sedum provide as well as the 12 month interest. The pollinators LOVE them and the bunnies eat the unbroken stems all winter. When the bunnies do that, it also makes my spring cleanup easier. But for some reason, once the stems are broken, the bunnies don’t seem to have as much of an appetite for them. Very different from the sunflower!

I have already brought sedum plants and sedum cuttings up north and they are doing well with the mulch around them. I suppose where I’ll land is that if any of the Autumn Joy sedum get severely broken this fall, I’ll move those plants up north right away and let them sleep there. Then next summer I can take cuttings and start building a row to make a hedge – maybe on the farthest long gutter downspout.

Catch Up Time

It was a season of daylily abundance here. Day after day there were 30+ daylilies blooming everywhere I looked. An incredible treat coming out of a now mature daylily garden.

Up north at the little reno house, success! It doesn’t look like much in pictures, the front porch needs love, and the old shed needs paint, but the deer are now staying away from the new plantings. What worked? It could be that our dog likes to “leave his calling card” right outside the “entrance” to the two areas, or it could be the mulch. Time will tell.

So after so much trial and error with up north gardens in the past 3 years, how did I settle on what to do? It was actually a “happy accident”.

The association board at the townhouse (from which I am now retired), decided to have all rock gardens between the garages pulled out and replaced with asphalt. In the rock garden between our garage and the neighbor’s garage there was some history I decided to preserve. There were rocks from a previous neighbor’s parents’ farm that we had used to keep the landscape rock somewhat contained, and there was an alpine current bush that my father had given me 15 years ago that had thrived there, providing many a happy day for our neighborhood birds. The rocks went up north in two batches in big bins (which are now quite beat up from the weight but oh well, it’s for the new garden!).

For the foundation, because the soil at that little house is rocky and needs some gardening love, I chose to do a modified lasagne garden, putting a layer of heavy cardboard down on the very old lawn, adding soil where needed, securing the cardboard in place with the rocks, and putting a good 6″ of mulch on top of that. I worked the cardboard around the plantings. Then I trimmed the areas with the smaller rocks.

Because I was tentative on how well things would work, and because the results of my previous up north gardens were less than optimal, I built in sections. I brought up plants from things that needed dividing or saving from the townhouse gardens. The Rainforest Sunrise hosta needed to come out of one of the areas in the townhouse garden because it was getting crowded. The shrub start was from rootings off the alpine currant that was removed. The sedum were cuttings and divisions. The daylilies were from last year’s purchases and plantings, and the daylily seedlings were from last year’s Purple D’Oro seed harvest.

The plants I put in before I decided on the modified lasagne method took a bit of a hit from the deer, but since I put the mulch in the deer have left everything alone. Fingers crossed.

There is so much more that needs to go up in the next 8 weeks. Two trellises went up because we had to replace the ac at the townhouse. The new ac unit was bigger, necessitating the removal of the trellises. I cut back that clematis, and it will be moved next. Beyond that, the Blue Mouse Ears desperately need dividing, a Patriot Hosta has really burned this year in the landscape rock and drought and needs moving, and I should move some crowded hostas out of the area across the path from the weigelia. That will probably fill the current garden up at the little house, and then I will finish putting the rest of the mulch in. After that, sleep new little garden. Rest up for next year.

Hanging on to summer

Last week it felt like fall, but it was still summer. This week it feels like summer, but it is now fall. And so it will go, as the days get shorter and cooler and the gardens here slowly begin their rest. For now, though, the pollinators are still happy – our sedum are in full bloom.

And at the little house up north, five daylilies have been added to a yard absolutely devoid of any plantings. A completely blank slate front, back, and sides. Only an old lawn and a couple trees. Mind is going, but for this year, while other projects are prioritized, this humble fall planting will have to do. A little sunny corner to make a start. Next spring I’ll pull the grass, the first bit of lawn to be replaced by the start of the gardens.

Cherry trees and tulips

The cherry trees in the association stated blooming a couple weeks ago.  Who doesn’t love their blooms?


They are stunningly beautiful for two-three weeks and then fade to the background to start building for next year’s show.

Similarly, the tulips take center stage at the ground level at about the same time.  Immediately following the crocus, they put on quite a show.


I love it all!  Here’s my dilemma – Unlike the cherry trees, the tulips are more of a “one and done” most years.  Essentially they are fall planted annuals that bloom the next spring.  In the years after the initial bloom year they are awesome at growing … leaves, but no blooms.

This spring, last years tulips looked like this.


As beautiful as the tulips are, I have another plan.  I am going to dig them out, reclaim that real estate, and plant some of the baby Purple d’ Oro daylily seedlings in that spot.  If they take off, in future years they would look absolutely lovely in front of the sedum.

Having repurposed that space, when the spring bulbs start showing up for order and purchase later this season, I have an alternate option.  I have, in past years forced tulip, hyacinth, and crocus bulbs in large plant pots.  Maybe I’ll do that this fall again.



Spring again!

It is finally feeling like garden season, and some hope after a tough few months for the whole world.  The pandemic has brought so much fear and sadness, and our hearts go out to all the families who have been affected and all who have lost loved ones.   It is sometimes hard to imagine it has only been a few months.  The heartbreak is incredible, and it seems like much longer.  I just couldn’t get motivated to share garden news amid all of the tough news.  But as sad as this sounds, at some point I decided reading and listening to so much aweful news and fearful projections was not good.  I started to trust it was ok to severely limit partaking in media coverage and updates.  It took a few weeks, but now some joy is starting to overcome the awfulness of this pandemic.  And as the gardening season is fully arriving, it is bringing some positivity, very much needed during this difficult time.

Through the winter I dreamed and planned gardens.  The association board work took form and the garden refreshes for this spring, now being done by an incredible local professional, are underway – 22 gardens at homes, and removing bricks, pavers, plastic trim, and various rock and mulch from around 42 trees and putting in only mulch.  We hear it is healthier for the trees.   A couple larger gardens integrated around trees will remain with rock, to be done in future years.  The garden outside our home is one of those, and our landscaper reports the tree is well established and very healthy.  Mulch may come in future years.

From my personal overwintered plants, the hibiscus is now back outside, as is the green shamrock.  The green shamrock has mostly gone through its spring die off.  I watched as the robins do what they do every year – pluck the dead stems by the beakful, and fly them up to their nest.  It is the annual cycle.  The robins get their materials, and the shamrock gets hardy and fills out again.

Of over 100 daylily  seeds I planted this winter in pods indoors, 13 daylily seedlings came up.  11 daylily seedlings survived.  In previous years I have direct sown our harvested seed in the ground at the townhouse.  A few lilies have grown from that and this year I am anticipating seeing what the pollinators produced three years ago.  For the extra work, this winter’s results were not awesome (I don’t think?) but it was an experiment.  We’ll see if I do a repeat.

The gardens here are popping back like crazy right now, and it looks like everything made it through the winter.  It’s pretty full, so of the daylily seedlings from this winter,  I’ve decided to keep the 2 ‘South Seas’ parentage seedlings here, and 4  of the ‘Purple d’Oro’ parentage seedlings.  5 ‘Purple d’Oro’ seedlings are going to be in the year 2 test garden up north, with chicken wire the first year, to give them a safe start.  I am hoping they eventually naturalize, and am optimistic, as I see entire fields of lilies up north that have made it.  We’ll see.

More to come.









Happy Leap Year!

Wow!  February 29!  Spring is around the corner, right?  I hope so.

We filled February with a lot of activities, and the month was fun, but I’m so ready for gardening season.

My daylily seeds are in the refrigerator getting prepped for planting in two weeks.  The days are getting longer, but the snow piles remain.  Still, my shamrocks are back in bloom, and, right on cue, my hibiscus bloomed for the first time this year on February 26th.  How does it do that so consistently?  Soon another bloom will brighten a couple days.


Outside at our townhome, the sedum I left for the birds fed another as well. Can you tell who else liked it?


Glad to see it go to good use!

Up north we have ample snow as well – ample as in higher than the bottom of the doors the last time we made a day trip.  But soon the wonder of the thawing woods will arrive.  We’ll see how our fall planted bulbs fare, and if the asclepias and coneflowers made it through the weedy hugelkultur garden and the long winter.  Dare we plant daylily seedlings?  Still undecided.