The Violet Fern

Creating Art & Gardens


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.


Front Row

You’ve seen them, front row borders. A straight line that mirrors the front foundation of a house. Usually 1-3 feet wide. Most of the time accentuated with a row of shrubs. Maybe punctuated with an arborvitae at the entrance or corner. Well, I inherited a front row, minus the shrubs, with the exception of what’s now one mother of a barberry. Again, I ask what is there to do on a patch of lawn this size? Aside from mowing it, I mean.

I started with the tiny patch of lawn between the sidewalk entrance and driveway (Spiced Up Sidewalk). Then carried on through to the other side. I threw some curves into the front row. Our porch curves outward and I thought it would be nice to mimic this. I added sambucus black lace next to the barberry. I like the burgundy and dark foliage shades against the stucco of our house. (Hopefully the white paint on the stucco in front will wear off in a few more years – it came that way.)

The front of our house receives full sun all day into the evening. The soil is true clay – rock hard cement that literally cracks when dry, muck that you can literally sculpt when wet. I then connected the other side of the sidewalk entrance to the main bed. I added a little stone shortcut. It has taken me several seasons to get to this point. The soil is still not great but is improving. Silver brocade, snow in summer, lamb’s ear, sea holly and russian sage standout against the dark foliage. A number of different sedums and thymes do well here.

Originally I had planted a cornelian cherry tree here but it just did not like this spot. It is much happier out back. So, I have continued the tapestry of dark, silver / blue, and chartreuse foliages with karl forester grass, blue star juniper, iris, agastache golden jubilee and sedum maestro. There is a wildlife friendly cherry tree seedling in the cornelian cherry’s place that will either “make it or not.”

The plants are now beginning to fill in and weave together. I will continue expanding this bed over time right up to the sidewalk. I envision more sedums, groundcovers, and hardy low growing evergreens but would like to incorporate natives. Not to worry, the inukshuk will show me the way.


Spiced Up Sidewalk

This tiny patch of lawn in front was just begging to be dug up! And so it was.

I planted creeping phlox (brought with me from ME), dianthus, hens and chicks (plucked from a nearby apartment), a mungo pine, thymes and even some chives (also from ME) as this area gets FULL sun. A lamb’s ear sprouted up (maybe from ME) and I encouraged it. (Some bulbs were thrown in there, too, for the next spring.) I got a little carried away and dug up some more lawn on the other side and started reshaping the front bed … anyway, these plants should do well with minimal watering.

It filled in nicely right away.
I was surprised to find some petunias (red) and snap dragons from the nearby baskets – fun! And I sprinkled some alyssum seeds in there to see if they would like it – they did.
I had a little trouble at first with the neighborhood dogs – we have a number that “walk themselves.” But a little cayenne or chile pepper sprinkled around this tiny patch does the trick! Too much for those sensitive noses. So, I encourage you to “spice up” your sidewalk.