The Violet Fern

Creating Art & Gardens


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What’s Blooming: I’m a PAN FAN!

Whoa, I almost ran right by Gardener’s Bloom Day hosted by Carol of May Dreams Gardens each month so that we have flowers every day of the year. Fortunately, I’m putting on the brakes. There isn’t much blooming per say in the Violet Fern garden but she still has color – lots of rich, enticing color.

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I have been in the garden very little but I still love her and I do spend whatever minute I can. I am plagued by a cat – stray or roaming I’m not sure which – and my beloved birds have taken notice and become scarce. I spent years planting and planning this garden to attract birds and it is somewhat disheartening that a careless neighbor, or unfortunate cat, can have so much impact upon my creative space, but there you have it. It has taught me to let go a bit more and so I have. I am still connected to the garden but my connection is much more amoebic.

The Pin Oak is just starting to turn. I think it is perhaps my favorite Fall foliage in the garden.

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Although, Cardinal Dogwood is a close rival. The old limbs have the most color and I planned to prune them off but I am going to wait just a little bit longer so I enjoy the show.

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And of course, Highbush Blueberry rivals any ol’ invasive Burning Bush. Tucked in here in the Potager.

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But then there are the Mellow Yellows … Spicebush Lindera benzoin (the one that survives). I will unbury the other one soon and move it from beyond the strangling arms of bindweed and Flowering Raspberry.

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And the Tulip Tree is such a glorious sight as he was in a bit of trouble not so long ago. He grew taller this year so I know things are on the upswing.

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Ooh, and then there is the beautiful sea foam green of Baptisia.

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But how about the texture of these garlic chive blossoms among Germander – ah.

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Vibrunum Cranberry doesn’t have much leaf color yet but that’s only because all the color is in the berries!

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And, wow, look at them apples! This is a tree I planted from some prunings I took from the side of the road one year for holiday display in my window boxes. One of the “apples” must have rooted so yes, it is planted from seed so to speak. I can’t believe how big it is now. And those apples – look at those apples! Each year I question if it is in fact from the Crabapple prunings I took or if I somehow chanced across an apple tree.

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So, what is blooming? Orchid Frost Lamium – blooms nonstop all season Spring into Fall frost. I love it beneath the Blue Spruce. They compliment each other well.

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Another all star blooming is Calendula which I planted from seed only once, four or five years ago. I have grown very fond of this tough little annual that throws itself around with abandon.

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Making me happy this year is Chrysanthemum Mary Stoker. Finally she is blooming and I just love her rich, ripe color. She is poking through Hydrangea Quickfire. Shoo fly!

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Another wonder bloomer is Persicaria. I wish I had more Persicaria varieties and maybe I will when I redesign this area of the garden. Firetail is a long bloomer, carefree and very attractive to bees. Her leaves are big and her flowers like little wands rising above casting magic about.

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Surprise! Johnny Jumped up into this little woodland container long after the petunia dried up.

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Even though there was a slight frost upon the rooflines this morning, Nasturtium in the Potager continues to look great.

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I am admiring Solidago ‘Fireworks’ this year more so than other years in my Nice Driveway. It looks great beside our native Indian Grass. I think I want more of this in my garden, too. Not that my garden needs more plants but I think it’s important now for me to weed out the weak and bring in only plants I love that perform really well so this is where I’m coming from

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What’s a PAN FAN you ask? A Pan Fan is a fan of Panicums and I am a big, big fan of my PANicum switch grass ‘Dallas Blues’ this year. He is large and in charge with silver blue foliage and purple blooms that will all turn to gold soon.

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Here he is blooming among the seed heads of perennial sunflower Helianthus Microcephalus.

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Fan that I am, I would like to add more Panicum grasses to my garden perhaps along the Nice Driveway – it would also dance well with Solidago.

As you can probably tell, I am still very much in love with my garden. She needs a little work but she always, always gives me joy and beauty. There’s pleasure in that.

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What’s Blooming: The Last Nasturtium

I have to thank Carol of Maydreams Gardens for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day on the 15th of each month, who inspires me to walk about my garden in all kinds of weather and take in its beauty. Oftentimes this year, I have taken the garden for granted and not fully appreciated my paradise. Today it is drizzling rain but I walked about and relished the delicious Autumn palette which I will also share with Pam at Digging in Foliage Followup. Just a warning, this beholder found A LOT of beauty to admire …

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It is warm today, so warm that the door is open to our back screen porch – but by the end of this week we will have a real sliding glass door! The warmth is strange with so many of my blooms already to seed and the torch of Autumn aflame. It just doesn’t feel right, but I will enjoy it all the same. We dined al fresco last evening – you have to take advantage!

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I will say it again, I love my Cardinal Dogwood! I love it in the Spring when it’s adorned with white flowers. I love it in the summer when the birds forage its white berries. I love it in the Autumn when its leaves begin to yellow golden almost orange, and its stems begin to turn red. I love it in the Winter when its stems are on fire against the Blue Spruce. (As I write this, a White Throated Sparrow is enjoying some of the last remaining berries!)

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I am also loving one of my Spicebush which actually died back a bit after last Winter but made a good comeback. Its yellow leaves like the sun rising above the Blue Spruce.

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I am always drawn to The Woodland Edge. There is so much going on in this section of the garden at all times. On its floor, Orchid Frost Lamium blooms well into the first few frosts. Wild Strawberry lights up the ground with its reddening leaves.

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I love this little Wood Sorrel – still blooming – in the planters on the log pedestals this year. It is only hardy to Z5 so I think I will store these containers in my cellar for the most brutal months of Winter after they go dormant.

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The Pagoda Dogwood Tree really took off this year. Once loaded with white blossoms, then the most beautiful dark berries, its leaves are now turning a deep burgundy.

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Persicaria Firetail still on fire among the yellowing leaves of Amsonias.

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I feel lucky to get a shot of these Winterberries – they are usually stripped clean by birds the minute they turn red (and orange – the orange not so much).

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Yeah, those berries are nice but I can’t get over the size of these crabapples out front! I just love these and they are beautiful this Autumn. This is the first time this tree has bore apples!

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The Potager seems to have the most blooms maybe because it has “gone wild” on me. I need to cut down many things, especially the Perilla and Garlic Chives, but it all looks so beautiful – why don’t I just wait for a really cold, miserable day? Ha ha, that’s the way. Surprising me, Nasturtium blooms!

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I love the dark green Lacinato Kale against the now toffee colored blooms of Perilla – looks like I’ll have plenty of Perilla next year, too. The wild grapes are yellowing on the fence.

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Lemon Tagetes still blooming.

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Now’s the time to eat this Chard!

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Borage, Calendula, Nasturtium – the staple of the flowers in my Potager.

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One of my favorite Nasturtiums ‘Moonlight’ from Renee’s Garden.

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A green bee taking refuge in a squash flower. I planted my squash late and then it was further stunted by a forest of Dill so it is still blooming and trying to produce.

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One of my favorite colors of the ‘Flashback Mix’ Calendula planted three or four years ago and not since. To say it reseeds is an understatement!

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Speaking of reseeders, Granpa Otts Morning Glory is still quite glorious!

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An example of that red Blueberry Autumn foliage one always reads about!

I think gardeners tend to forget how outstanding Oenothera is in the Autumn garden. I grow it in the Bird & Butterfly bed and around my Pin Oak.

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The leaves of the Pin Oak.

It seems that the Helianthus Microcephalus went to seed earlier this year. It is usually one of the last bloomers. Behind it, the blooms of Panicum ‘Dallas Blues’ in the Bird & Butterfly garden.

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This is why I end up with so many Black-eyed Susans because I cannot bear to chop them down. They look cool! And the birds love to eat their seeds and since I will be migrating myself, I will leave them up all Winter long to feed the birds.

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The leaves of (naughty) Amur Maple, an invasive small tree I cannot recommend planting but I have it anyway in my garden because it hitched a ride from our Maine home.

Another Dogwood – I love them. (The shrub in the foreground beginning of Hosta Row.) Remember this one? This is a story of perseverance. This was the Dogwood that was sawed down by the Dogwood Sawfly caterpillars. Look at him now! A complete comeback, amazing.

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That “rug” of green on the workshop/garage wall is Clematis Virginiana. All I can say is WOW.

A surprise, and thoroughly neglected, Petunia or maybe Viola. This container (also on a log pedestal) was planted in early Spring and I have not been good about watering it regularly throughout the entire Summer – or even checking on it. Maybe neglect is a successful gardening method?

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Heuchera ‘Pinot Blanco’ still blooming among a few yes, self seeded Calendulas, and a fading ‘Quickfire’ Hydrangea.

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The fading blossom of Snowball Hydrangea.

I am also surprised Obedient Plant is just about finished blooming – again, seems to have gone to seed earlier this year, but very colorfully.

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I was captivated by these furry tails of Liatris!

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But Solidago ‘Fireworks’ seems to be blooming right on time. One can always find some type of pollinator on Solidago, even at this time of year which is why Solidagos are so important.

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Instead of a throw away Mum, I opted for a New England Aster which I will plant out in the garden. I don’t seem to have luck with Asters but I keep adding them hoping one will “catch” other than the weedy little white flowered one which pops up everywhere in my garden.

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Wild Grapes on the front porch.

This year should be dubbed the year that containers didn’t die. A Gazania ‘Frosty Kiss’ blossom! among some added gourds to a container out front.

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I’ll leave you with hope for Spring: a Milkweed pod bursting in what I hope will be its new home along the Nice Driveway instead of in the middle of my entry way. I find it beautiful.

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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.

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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.

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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.