The Violet Fern

Creating Art & Gardens


What’s Blooming: Rose Petals and Cotton Candy

Well, here we are at the height of Summer for those of us in the Northeastern United States … J-UUU-L-III! This is the month of big bangs of blooms. Picture picnics and sizzling grills (of veggies), beautiful bouquets, carnivals and cotton candy. Reality: I took photos this morning in the rain, in my squeaky, squishy flip flops. No sunny skies here today but that’s okay, I have blooms – lots of big bang blooms!

I am still far behind in my gardening chores – chores that I have listed in my head such as you really, really need to cut back the Black Lace out front. You really, really need to weed that new area by the rose trellis. You really, really need to tie up your cherry tomatoes … on and on. So, you may see a weed, or a dozen, but the blooms are what to focus upon, please.

The Potager is in the worst shape. It needs a cut back, tie up, pull up, fall plant, and a really good day – or two – of weeding. The paths are barely passable, but there are blooms (and buzzes) everywhere – Calendula, Morning Glory, Tomatillos, Purple Perilla and Cutleaf Coneflower have reseeded themselves silly. Trumpet flowers are just beginning to open. The dill and borage are growing tree size!





Dill Tree

The Bird & Butterfly Garden is becoming choked by Joe and Susan’s love affair. There will be a messy divorce come Fall, I predict. Still, on and on there are blooms – currently, Daisies and Bee Balm – through a veil of Joe Pye just budding.



Another large growing patch of Bee Balm in the Nice Driveway – safe from Susan. Summer Nights Heliopsis decided to move itself to the Nice Driveway, too. I have also been spreading my Cone Flowers around for fear they will be permanently choked out by Susan. I’ve replanted or deadheaded some in the Nice Driveway, some more out front by yet another patch of Bee Balm, only pink, mixed in with Verbascum which also easily reseeds.



‘Summer Nights’



Liatris is finally taking off in the Nice Driveway. Things either thrive or perish in the Nice Driveway. It is full sun and somewhat dry. The soil is not as rich as it is in the back gardens.


Sea Holly has flared up out front and is normally glittering with pollinators but not today in the rain.


I can never pick out Butterfly Weed until it’s in bloom, then bang, there it is!


Good news! I thought my New Jersey Tea didn’t survive but then, bang, there are some small blooms!


I had a large whiskey barrel container at the end of our driveway. I finally moved it up to the garage in the dead sea of paved driveway to break it up. It was really just a pee spot for all the passing dogs where it used to be, anyway. And when the crabapples were planted, it didn’t really fit out there anymore. It detracted from the trees. I devised a trellis with bamboo and grapevines to grow Cardinal Climber for the hummingbirds.


I also planted Pineapple Sage and some of the seedlings I started this year into it: Castor Bean, Lime Zinnias, Lime Nicotiana, Love in a Mist, and Shrimp Plant. I love it in its new spot – birds even perch on the trellis – a Cedar Waxwing the other day! But sadly, it is full of black ants and they are eating the bases of the stems! You can see the Castor Bean is wilting. I tried chalk around the barrel, sprinkling cinnamon around the base of stems and transplanting some Calendula to deter them – they seem to be dwindling. All remedies I looked up online. (I also have an ant problem in one of my raised beds – where are the Flickers?) Next year I will be sure the ants are gone before I plant. There’s always next year says the gardener.


Shrimp Plant blossoms


Lime Zinnia bud


Castor Bean flowers

I think the Woodland Edge is my favorite part of the garden. There is always something going on. It is also the most wild and difficult to maintain. My stone paths I attempted are almost completely grown over (another item to add to the list). Right now this border it is all frothy and pink.


The beautiful cotton candy blooms of Queen of the Prairie are just beginning to froth.




Queen of the Prairie (in pink) and Tall Meadow Rue

Persicaria Firetail just beginning to flare, will shoot off until frost.


“The Rocket” lights up.


The Hydrangea in the drive droops in the rain. This Hydrangea’s cuttings have taken root in new Hosta Row.




Hydrangea from cuttings now growing in Hosta Row. Golden Shadows and Red Twig Dogwood in foreground.

A new Hydrangea ‘Quickfire’ (replaced Oakleaf which surely would not have survived last Winter here) just beginning to bubble behind Heucheras Pinot Blanco and Caramel. I love this combination.


Well, if you’ve hung in here this long you deserve a grand finale! These photos were take a few days ago in the sun. The Prairie Rose, which unfortunately I cannot see, or smell, from our back porch as intended because we have yet to install our windows, has never been so big and full! I would say this rose definitely disguises that chainlink fence now. My neighbor can appreciate it anyway, and the bees – of whom I can hear their buzzing through the wall – and the syrphid flies and more. Rose petals flutter down from the sky throughout the garden.



And so yet another Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens gives proof through the night that we can have flowers nearly every month of the year.



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: Flowering Raspberry & Blue Flag

Here it is, June, the transition from Spring to Summer. In spite of my new bunny ranch, I have blooms – it is a miracle! Those bunnies are ravenous and I am considering my first BB gun – not really, only at certain moments such as when I discovered the Morning Glory was eaten to the ground in a blaze of glory. Although discouraged, I do have to remind myself that I chose to garden for wildlife. Here it is!

Bunny Ranch

Things will live through this bunny boom or they won’t and that is gardening. Here’s what’s on the menu and a portion of what’s blooming in the Violet Fern Garden this garden bloggers’ bloom day hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens.

The Woodland Edge is peppered in pinks and purples. For dessert? Flowering Raspberry.

Goats Beard

Goats Beard and Summer Containers in the Woodland Edge

Spiderwort and Columbines

Spiderwort (Tradescantia Osprey), Jacob’s Ladder and Columbines in the Woodland Edge

Blue Flag Iris

Blue Flag Iris II

Our native Blue Flag Iris


Primrose (Primula x bulleesiana)


Amsonia x Blue Ice, Blue Star and Allium Moly

Wild Raspberry and Phlox

Flowering Raspberry (Rhus odoratus), and Wild Sweet William or Meadow Phlox (Phlox maculata)

The Bird & Butterfly Garden is buttered in yellow.

Evening Primrose and Ladys Mantle

Evening Primrose (Oenothera) and Lady’s Mantle (Alchemilla Mollis)

Ladys Mantle in the Rain

Lady’s Mantle (Alchemilla Mollis) after a rain


Baptisia ‘Twilite Prairieblues’

The Riverfront is laced with complex flavors.

Black Lace

Black Lace (Sambucus)

Walkers Low, Snow in Summer, Black Lace

Catmint Walkers Low (Nepeta), Snow in Summer (Cerastium tomentosum), Black Lace (Sambucus)

The Potager is an herbal delight.



Thyme and Purple Perilla

Thyme and Purple Perilla

Sedum from Kring Point

Sedum in a Potager path from a nearby park (I took a cutting)

The new Hosta Row is dotted with Caramel, Heuchera ‘Caramel.’ May I have a Pinot with that?

Coral Bells & Hollyhocks

Heucheras ‘Caramel’ and ‘Pinot Blanco,’ Hollyhocks in background in new section Hosta Row

Can I get you anything else for your dining pleasure? No? Well, thank you, dinner’s on me.