The Violet Fern

A Colorful Tale of a Garden in the Making


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What’s Blooming: Summer Nights

A little late to the game but it’s July and peak bloom season for most everyone in the Northeast, but I would say my garden peaks in Autumn with Joe (Pye) and Susan (Black-eyed) getting it on. They are showing signs of love, but here’s what’s blooming right now in the Violet Fern Garden during Garden Blogger’s Bloom Days hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens.

A rare look from above on the Bird & Butterfly and Woodland Gardens. As you can see, I have a jungle on my hands.

Stepping a little over to the right and you can see the swell of grass path where I plan to put in a small pond. You can also catch a glimpse of the Potager just beyond the garage/workshop.
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Every now and then I try to stand back from the flower close-ups so you get a better feel for the jungle, ah hem, I mean garden. Summer Nights have seeded themselves prolifically in the Bird & Butterfly and Nice Driveway gardens. I under appreciate this plant. It is beautiful with dark burgundy stems and that yellow that sometimes flushes orange from the center “cones” that go through various stages of forms from tightly woven dark burgundy to puffy orange polka dots. The bees seem to love it in every stage. That is the yellow you see in the above shots (taken from the roof of my back porch). The White is Shasta Daisy, the red Bee Balm.

 A Rudbeckia Maxima, Giant Cone snuck in here!

Summer Nights along the Nice Driveway along with Arborvitae, Ninebark, and Cranberry Viburnum and just a glimpse of Bee Balm.

Bee Balm is also in its glory. I have a red in the Bird & Butterfly Garden and also along the Nice Driveway. Untitled Untitled

I have a pink variety of Bee Balm out front mixed with Purple Cones and Verbascum right now.  Much is happening out front but I don’t go there often, preferring the privacy in our back garden. I love Sea Holly now blooming and think I will try to incorporate a larger variety in the Bird & Butterfly garden.

Butterfly Weed is about to burst into bloom.

Russian Sage blooms shrub size. As you can see behind that Black Lace has recovered, once again, from our harsh winter with a vengeance. It even bloomed this year.

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Black Lace flower

The Honeysuckle is in full swing along the left side of our front porch which we are finally beginning to scrape and paint. I am excited to have the front porch shaped up a bit. It is a beautiful porch and it’s a shame we don’t sit on it more often. We are going to use deck repair paint in Hedgerow green. I can’t wait to get rid of the cold, battleship grey – not that there’s much of it left. The Grapevines that climb along the right side of our porch believe it or not, were pruned early on. With the shrubs and trees now filling in and offering a bit more privacy along with the vines and a new paint job, I believe I will sit out here more often.

Looking out the front door to the crabapples out front. Grapevines cover the trellis work to the right.

Front porch with tongue and groove scraped and ready to be repainted. I think the new green color will be a nice lead way to the garden beyond. Crabapple, and honeysuckle to the left.

I had an Autumn Clematis mixed in here with the honeysuckle and I thought it had died last year but whoops, there it is making a comeback.

 Also exciting, my hardy kiwi vine is finally reaching the trellis on the left back side of the front porch which will be replaced with welded wire very soon. (You can see that we need to paint very badly and the trellis panel is shot.)  Last year I also thought New Jersey Tea had died but I think it has finally settled in next to the honeysuckle. It has the most blooms it’s ever had this year. UntitledOn the back porch Passion Flower Betty Miles Young is growing nicely. She blooms continuously. This year we should also have our back porch sided with real siding! We are choosing a plastic cedar shake shingle style – maintenance free so there’s more time to garden – in a warm color that harmonizes with the stucco.

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Yes, I see and enjoy the Passion flower blooms from a seat inside the window.

  On the copper tripod (fancy bird perch) set in a whiskey/wine barrel, Grandpa Ott’s Morning Glory and, so excited, Gloriosa Lilies bloom. The Corkscrew Vine is growing nicely here as well, but no blooms yet. Lime Nicotiana and Love in a Mist reseeded themselves here, too.

Morning Glory, Grandpa Ott’s

Gloriosa Lily bloom

Lime Nicotiana

Love in a Mist, Persian Violet Nigella

In the fiberglass pot made to look like faux bark where the water catches from my rain chain, a water lily blooms. Untitled

The Woodland Edge is alive with blooms, too, some of my favorites like Queen of the Prairie. It is also being devoured by bindweed which I will attack tomorrow on my one day (not enough) in my garden.

Ligularia ‘The Rocket’

Culver’s Root with bamboo stakes to keep from flopping (ha!) and Meadow Rue, Thalictrum, in the background.

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Queen of the Prairie, Filipendula rubra

More Queen of the Prairie with Persicaria Firetail

Trumpet Vine blooms on the arbor to the Potager. Calendula and Borage continue to take over the Potager. Moonlight Nasturtium and Chamomile also bloom. I think I have more flowers than vegetables in the Potager now. Untitled

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Borage

Finally we come round to Hosta Row where Heuchera and Hydrangea Quickfire are in bloom. An unknown flower blooms here, too – perhaps a wild phlox? Anyone? And lastly, Snowball Hydrangea heavy with blooms. That’s hops growing up to the left. I can barely pass through here anymore.

Did I say I think my garden peaks in Autumn?


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What’s Blooming: Hey Joe and Here Comes the Sun

Yet another Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day, celebrated the 15th of each month and hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens. My garden is looking “tired” – a reflection of me? I am tired. Tired and struggling with allergies. The garden is beating me down. I have managed to cut a few things back, tidy up a bit, add a few small paths but that’s about all. Not much harvesting going on either – fresh salad, herbs and cucumbers.

Joe Pye is everywhere! But I love, love its big floppy, purple heads – all loaded with sleepy bees. I am going to move some of the volunteers to a new corner of the garden.

Joe in the Potager

Joe Pye in the Potager

The Susans are also prolific even in spite of the severe rabbit pruning they received earlier this summer. They are taking over the Bird & Butterfly Garden (along with Joe). I will need to thin them this fall so the bee balm and coneflowers have more room to grow. My asters are buried and so is Husker’s Red – more moving around.

Susans in the Bird & Butterfly Garden

Joe Pye and Susans in the Bird & Butterfly Garden

Nodding onions are the star of the garden now. Great blue lobelia is just revealing itself.

Woodland Edge August

Great Blue Lobelia and Nodding Onions along the Woodland Edge

Nodding Onions

Nodding Onions up close

Iron Weed has just come into bloom – flop. Lots of flopping going on. Don’t you just hate that?

Iron Weed

Well, I wanted more flowers in the Potager and I have them!

Flowers in the Potager

Calendula and marigolds blanket the paths. Trumpet vine gone wild. These marigolds are 3-4′ tall!

3' Marigolds in the Potager

Sunflowers are also beginning to bloom. I didn’t think any of them would make it given the rabbits’ taste for sunflower sprouts!

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Mexican Sunflower

This Amaranth is taller than the sunflowers – almost 7′!

7' tall Amaranth

I find most of the action – blooms and birds, bees, etc. – in the Potager and Woodland Edge, but there is more going on in the new Hosta Row. Clematis Virginiana is blooming for the first time! Too bad the wind wreaked havoc on its trellis. That’s just the way it goes in gardening it seems. The snowball hydrangea bloom on and on and on (along with the Dogwood shrubs this year), in Hosta Row and along the Nice Driveway where the wall of grape and hydrangea has filled in completely.

Native Clematis Virginiana

Native Clematis Virginiana

Snowball hydrangeas in Hosta Row

Dogwood and Snowball hydrangeas in Hosta Row

Wall of grapes and hydrangea

Wall of grapes and hydrangea

New Hydrangea ‘Quickfire’ is blooming alongside Heuchera ‘Pinot Bianco.’

Hydrangea 'Quickfire' and Heuchera 'Pinot Bianco'

White Phlox that belonged to my grandmother also bloom along the Nice Driveway. Fresh against the fading Bee Balm.

Phlox in Nice Driveway

Pink phlox blooms out front through a veil of Karl Foerester Feather Reed grass.

Pink Phlox through Karl Forester

Mints are coming into bloom throughout the garden. Catmint blooms non-fail all summer in the Riverfront.

Catmint Walkers Low

Soon to be outdone by the Russian Sage.

Russian Sage

I don’t look out front too often but I’ll have to keep an eye on it as things are coming into bloom like this young NJ Tea and butterfly weed. This sheered off Mt. Bluet Centaurea is reblooming, too.

Mt Bluet Centaurea

Mt Bluet Centaurea reblooms

New Jersey Tea Buds

New Jersey Tea Buds

Butterfly Weed Buds

Butterfuly Weed Buds

Of course, the honeysuckle blooms all summer until frost and even into December!

Honeysuckle in August

Coral Honeysuckle

This is the home stretch. Not much more blooms from hereon out but beautiful Fall color to look forward to. Nights have been cool and some of the trees are already going dormant. Early fall this year? Obedient Plant is just starting to bloom – have to love a late bloomer like Obedient Plant even if it is a thug.

Obedient first blooms

Be sure to join in Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day by visiting Carol at May Dreams Gardens.


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Five, Six, Seven Picks for Diana!

I am joining Diana of Elephant’s Eye in choosing twelve months of my favorite garden plants. Since “Mayhem” I have been submersed in the garden. I find it difficult to sit in my office at the computer, but I need to catch up. Here are my plant picks for May, June and July.


May — Iris. There is nothing like Iris in the garden. Their blade-like foliage adds complimentary texture to any planting bed. Swords of buds, their tips dipped in color, slice through foliage and flora and then one day unfurl in a splash of paint. Blossoming swirls of purple, yellow, cream, inky veins, and bristling anthers brushed with pollen, beckon bees and artists. I have yet to paint an Iris watercolor. My favorite is Sibirica.



June — Alliums. Alliums add surprise and whimsy to my garden. Slowly their sparkling spheres rise and seemingly float above the garden floor, their nodding heads bouncing in the slightest breeze. From the common chive to the bigger beat of the drumstick to the native nodding onion, all of them turn into rotating, buzzing globes attracting all sorts of bees, wasps, flies and other pollinators. I recently added ‘Summer Beauty’ among my nodding onions for its stronger pink hues.




July — Bee Balm, Monarda. I have several large drifts of Bee Balm. One is pink in color, the others red, given to me by my mother. I would like to add a large patch of Wild Bergamot or Monarda fistulosa. Bee Balm is in fact popular among the bees, and even a small patch of these fireworks guarantees to attract a Hummingbird. How could I not include this among my favorite garden plants when just this week I spied the first Hummingbird Hawk Moth to visit my garden whirring among its blooms? It’s the balm!



To read about my previous choices for a dozen for Diana, click below.
January: Sunflowers
February: Wild Roses

March: Lady’s Mantle

April: Poppies