The Violet Fern

A Colorful Tale of a Garden in the Making


What’s Blooming: Button Blossoms

It is a steamy 90+ degree F day in Clayton along the St. Lawrence River, but this morning the blooms were fresh in the Violet Fern garden on this Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day hosted by Carol of May Dreams Gardens the 15th of each month.

There are buzzing drifts of Bee Balms in the Riverfront and Nice Driveway beds.

Pink Bee Balm, Swamp Milkweed and Verbascum

Bee Balm 2013

Each morning I enjoy the low murmuring hum of bees among blooming Prairie Rose along side our back screened porch.

Prairie Rose 2013

Bee on Prairie Rose

Along side the front porch, dripping honeysuckle hums with hummingbirds. Another favorite stop, the Trumpet Vine “Flamenco” in the Potager.

Honeysuckle Front Porch

Trumpet Vine 2013

Sea Holly ‘Blue Glitter’ peeks out from beneath Black Lace (Riverfront).

Sea Holly and Black Lace

The Woodland Edge is awash in pink with blooms of Flowering Raspberry, an unknown pink Veronica, pink yarrow, and Persicaria ‘Firetail.’

Awash in Pinks

Firetail close up.


Red and pink plumes of Astilbe japonica ‘Montgomery’ and ? – I fear the plant tag is buried in my compost pile.

Astilbe and Cimicifuga Leaf

Pale purples of  Tradescantia ‘Osprey.’

Tradescantia 'Osprey' (Spiderwort)

The Woodland Edge ends in a cloud of Tall Meadow Rue, Thalictrum pubescens.

Cloud of Tall Meadow Rue

Puffs of Snowball Hydrangea skirt a newer section of the garden, Hosta Row.

Snowball Hydrangea in Hosta Row

Shasta Daisies light up the Bird & Butterfly Garden.

Shasta Daisies

All good stories have a happy ending and this visual story of what’s blooming does! My Common Buttonbush, Cephalanthus occidentalis, has blossoms for the first time!

Buttonbush Blossoms


What’s Blooming: Currants and Princes

Each spring morning, early, my attention is drawn to the Woodland Edge outside my kitchen and back porch windows. The Bird & Butterfly Garden was my focus not so long ago with its yellow fields of Daffodils, Forsythia, and unfortunately this year, rabbit ridden Crocus. The variety of Daffodils I purchased from Bluestone bloom from early spring on. I particularly love this double blooming white variety with its heavy fragrance that is blooming right now.


The adjacent Woodland Edge that I inevitably gravitate towards, reveals a tapestry of bulbs and native wildflowers that I hope to enhance over time by adding Bluebells, Shooting Stars, Bloodroot, Trout Lily and more to what already exists. The morning sun streams through the neighboring Maples and Elders to light up this “forest floor” that begs closer inspection.


Bergenia, Forget-me-nots, Daffodils, wild Violets and Summer Snowflakes in the Woodland Edge


Summer Snowflake, Leucojum aestivum ‘Gravetye Giant’ and wild strawberries


Ferns and Forget-me-nots


Bergenia, Daffodils and wild Violets in the Woodland Edge

Tulips bloom, limited to the front and drive where wildlife treads lightly. In the back gardens, Woodland Tulips stand tall in spite of the rabbits and chipmunks.


Woodland Tulip (Tulipa Sylvestris) and Woodland Phlox


Tulips along the Nice Driveway. Poppies will bloom next.


Tulips in front, the “Riverfront,” among Creeping Phlox

The Riverfront, in spite of the need for a quick edging, is looking like the “waves” I imagine and that I hope to embellish in the future.


Waves of Snow-in-summer (Cerastium tomentosum), Sea Holly (Eryngium), Creeping Jenny, Ajuga and Lamb’s Ear in the Riverfront garden

Also in front, street side, Purple Prince crabapple just opened. I hope the hummingbirds aren’t far behind. Last year they arrived in time with the crabapple blooms. This year they are later, arriving earlier in my garden May 3rd in 2012.


Crabapple ‘Purple Prince’

Graceful arches of Bleeding Heart and Solomon’s Seal blooming in the newest section of the garden, Hosta Row.


Solomon’s Seal


Bleeding Heart, Dicentra

On the southwest side of the house, a part of the garden I rarely linger as it faces our neighbor’s wide open lawn, Clove Currant shrubs are loaded with blooms. Their fragrance is intoxicating and enjoyed through the windows and when seated on the front porch.


Clove Currant, Ribes odoratum, Ajuga, and the have-to-live-with-it-no-getting-rid-of-it Bishop’s Weed

I cannot believe it is already that time again, the 15th of the month, Garden Bloggers Bloom Day hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens. But here it is and I am grateful to have blooms to share. I enjoy the spring garden. So much happens. There is much to see every day, sometimes twice. You can see more by visiting Carol’s site.


Nice Driveway

Nostrovia or na zdrowie, misinterpreted by some ears as “nice driveway”, is a polish cheer to your health. This is how I came to name the bed I created along my driveway. (This is also now, humorously, a toast we frequently use among friends and family.) The driveway area between us and our neighbor is the third area I focused on in creating my garden. This post is a time line of this area of my garden from the very beginning until now. The bird & butterfly garden being the first and the potager (kitchen garden), being the second. Our property actually goes right to the very edge of our neighbor’s house, but we left a pathway to be, well, neighborly. From this “before” picture, you might guess as to why I created this bed. It is wide open – hello neighbor, what are we grilling this evening?

You can see our back deck railing in the very foreground of the above picture in the spring of 2009. This picture also shows the very beginning of the bed – dirt. Those boards are actually covering fence post holes for a trellis that my favorite contractor built (once again, amazing husband), to add some privacy between us and our neighbors. My instructions were simply to build a trellis as high as zoning laws would allow. Here’s his design:
I’m glad I left it up to him. He did a beautiful job. Here is the bed planted by late summer of 2009.
The vine on the trellis is morning glory ‘Heavenly Blue.’ In this bed I’ve planted an arborvitae ‘Emerald Green,’ and a ninebark ‘Coppertina.’ Below is the bed in early spring of 2010.
I extended the bed further down the drive and planted a second arborvitae. In the space between the arborvitaes I planted rudbeckia maxima, indian grass and solidago ‘fireworks.’ They filled in quite nicely their first year. I cannot wait for the indian grass and rudbeckia to grow to their full heights.
I also have liatris, coreopsis varieties, achilia ‘Coronation Gold, obedient plant and meadow sage ‘May Night’ planted in this space. The soil is well drained and I think of this area of my garden as my “mini prairie.” The sunflowers are a temporary screen until the arborvitaes grow in. I also have a dutchman’s pipe vine growing along the trellis. This will be its third year, and if it doesn’t take off I think I will need to move it. The soil may be too dry here. I’ve been planting annual vines temporarily hoping the dutchman’s pipe vine will begin to take over. This year I will plant purple hyacinth bean.
I did add a clematis, ‘Comtesse de Bouchard’ thinking it would be pretty weaving in and out of the dutchman’s pipe. Last year moonflower also did well on the trellis. Helenium and indian grass were great fall focals. I was surprised the indian grass bloomed its first year.
Last summer 2010, above. The bed is filling in nicely. Now we have a nice privacy buffer instead of a barren strip of grass. But that’s not all, this bed attracted many pollinators last summer and every day I was able to take time to look, I was rewarded.
This year I will extend the bed further down to the sidewalk and add a third arborvitae. I haven’t planned the rest but hope to keep this post updated with my progress. Thank you for joining me in my garden in the making.