The Violet Fern

Creating Art & Gardens


October Observations: Late for My Date with Frost

We had our first killing frost just this week on the 29th. Last year I recorded our first frost October 13th. We were blessed this year with a warm, glowing October right to the end! The leaves on the Pin Oak have just turned as seen in my November header. I am admiring all the color still painting the garden (especially now golden Amsonia), but I am behind in my preparations and the frost took me completely by surprise – a few houseplants may not recover. It is time to empty the bird baths and put out my heated bath, bring in the bird houses that aren’t frost proof, bring out the suet feeders, and wrap the young trees and shrubs that the rabbits like to eat over winter.


Ceramic bird bath in the Woodland Edge will be swapped for a heated bath.

Surprise or not, I love a hard frost on a beautiful sunlit morning which were exactly the conditions this past Tuesday. Normally I would be out in the garden capturing the glory but I was on my way to Watertown, the largest “city” nearby, to pick up paper work for the Master Gardening class our cooperative extension is offering this winter. So, it was okay to miss my date with frost and my drive was absolutely beautiful through frosty fields of rural farmland. I took it as a sign of better and brighter things to come in my world of gardening. I look so forward to the class and the opportunities!

Today the gales of November have arrived right on cue and can be seen reverberating from the Great Lakes all through the mighty St. Lawrence River (click here for river view cams). Winds are predicted up to 40 mph with gusts up to 60 mph(!) and have already ripped off the plexi glass we had screwed down to our screen porch door. Ghosts are flying! The air is warm now but winter is arriving and I look to the winter garden scene I most rely upon until spring – the Cardinal Dogwood and Blue Spruce pairing. This year I am adding a copper rain chain and can’t wait to install it, but today is not the day. It should compliment the copper topped bird feeder close by – glowing warmth that will be welcome come January and February.


Cardinal Dogwood’s red stems against Blue Spruce. A few gold leaves hang on.

I hope to be in the Potager this weekend for a good clean up and topping (of compost), if the weather cooperates. Garlic has to be planted and once again, I missed ordering some “new blood” so to speak – I should order mid summer! But I have some big bulbs from this year’s harvest to rely upon. Crossing my fingers and holding on.



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.