Posted by: Small House Under a Big Sky Homestead | May 4, 2013

My Garden – A Labor of Love


The brick planter next to the house driveway is filled with sun-loving perennials.

This is the time of year I start to spend much of my day in the garden. It’s early May now in Michigan and that means the BIG spring clean-up has begun. I’m now working on picking out leaves, spreading bark chips and putting down the Deer Vic goop on paint sticks to stop the deer from eating everything I work so hard to plant and grow.


Bulbs in a rock garden in early bloom. Rocks were collected from field and roadside.

When we bought these 5-acres one of our intentions was to garden B-I-G! We hoped to grow our own vegetables, keep chickens and have large swaths of perennials gardens.

This morning I woke early with the intention of getting out in the garden in the cool morning hours and around 6:30 I started to take Sassy out for her a.m. walk. She came unglued. Turns out there were four huge deer munching their breakfast in my meadow garden GRRRR! Deer hear this now….this garden is not your B&B! You have been warned!


Part of Sassy’s hunting training is learning to sit and stay in her blind.

I let Sassy out and told her to get them…and she did. She a trained bird dog but this is her “territory” and these deer are not allowed here. She chased and scattered them into the woods and came right back to me. Good dog!

I spent a l-o-n-g but productive day in the front of our house pulling out the many leaves that blow in and collect under the St. John’s Wort’s shrubs during the winter months. After the leaves were under control, I filled 5-gallon buckets with bark chips that we chipped from the big tree cut down project in 2012. I then hauled the buckets using our garden cart to the driveway to the beds that border both sides. I spread this mulch, which here serves a purpose to keep in moisture as well as keeping the weeds manageable.


Gene and I bought each other this cart for Christmas our first year in the Small House.

In addition to the day’s hard work, I watered the 50 baby White Pine trees planted a few weeks ago as well as the eight, chest-high White Pines we planted along the roadside in front of our home last fall.  We plan to plant a number of pines each fall to begin to recreate the privacy and wind protection we lost from the ditch construction.  I need to water these trees every other day as even though it is just May, we are already in drought conditions here in SW Michigan. No rest for the weary here at the small house under the big sky.


A baby pine, one of 50 bought through the Allegan County Extension.

And, the poor front of the brick planter’s beds perennials… I started this bed about 6 years ago planting day lilies and native Lupines to make a stunning show or red and purple. Unfortunately, this bed needed to be totally torn up and moved last year when I temporarily dug up and potted all of the day lily’s before the flood extension ditch was dug. Think; large equipment driven by men hired by the county who could care less about my garden or flowers!

I dug up and potted 50 some perennials in order to save them! Then of course last fall, I had to replant them to save them from being frozen over the winter. As if I did not already have enough to do!

Here at the small house growing conditions are just plain difficult and harsh. Periodic drought, seasonal flooding, the heavy Lake Michigan winds blowing by, thick gravel blowing everywhere, deer making their daily rounds, trucks barreling down the roadway and veering off onto my property and so on. I plant mostly native plants because not much else will survive here.

Some years it feels like Mother Nature and I are in a war! It’s definitely survival of the fittest here. More photographs as the season progresses.

Small House / Big Sky Donna

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