The Violet Fern

A Colorful Tale of a Garden in the Making


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What’s Blooming: Everything!

It is the 15th of the month, that means Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens. A wonderful forum where everyone shares what’s blooming in their gardens. So, what’s blooming in the Violet Fern garden? Just about everything!

Here is a bird’s eye view of the Bird & Butterfly and Woodland Edge borders. The entire garden hums and soars with bees and birds during the day and crickets and bats in the evenings. Cabbage whites, and occasionally other butterflies (I saw a Monarch the other day!), flutter and spin skyward. This is why I let it grow wild with natives and don’t use any types of herbicides/pesticides – all is blooming and alive. It is music to my eyes and ears.

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In the Bird & Butterfly Garden we have perennial sunflower, Helianthus Microcephalus which has spread itself around a bit; Black-eyed Susans; Joe Pye; Mint; and a new feature somehow, a Lemon Balm edging which the Wool Carder Bees are guarding.

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Joe Pye Weed

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Black-eyed Susans

In the Woodland Edge, Phlox; Nodding Onion; Flowering Raspberry; Great Blue and Cardinal Lobelias; Persicaria; Cup Plant and Rudbeckia Laciniata bloom on and on. Turtlehead is just peeking out of its shell. Jewelweed is also in bloom and is almost constantly visited by either Hummingbirds and / or Bumblebees.

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My Grandmother’s White Phlox

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Nodding Onion

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Cardinal Lobelia

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Great Blue Lobelia

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Cup Plant is at least 10-12 feet tall this year!

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Rudbeckia Laciniata and Cup Plant

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Pink Turtlehead

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Jewel Weed

Corkscrew vine is blooming! – but WAY up there! (It still smells divine down here, though.)

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I got out a ladder so I could zoom in.

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Corkscrew vine flower

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Corkscrew vine flower

Talk about vines – trumpet vine continues to bloom and impress! Untitled

Polite Clematis Claire de Lune is putting on a show this year.

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Clematis Claire de Lune

In striking contrast, our big brute, native Clematis Virginiana, has them all beat! In full bloom now and rambling among Hosta Row into the Hostas and Hydrangea.

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Clematis Virginiana

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Out front a pink phlox blooms against Karl Foerster, and Russian Sage against Black Lace.

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Karl Föerster grass

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Russian Sage in bloom, Black Lace in background

I know that it’s the grand finale of Summer because Obedient Plant is just beginning to paint the Nice Driveway in purple.

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Obedient Plant

Normally this would make me sad but this year I am looking forward to cooler weather and spending some quality time in my garden neatening it up a bit and reinforcing a few paths through the beds for easier maintenance. After that I will be spending a whole month (!) moving my office/studio to a different room of our house that is a little bit larger and putting together and organizing my seed starting set up. We will be escaping again this winter to Cedar Key, but I want to be ready the minute I get home to start seeds which I will begin indoors this time before moving out to the little greenhouse. I’m going to start them in my new office/studio space which will be clean, organized and welcoming when I return home. The hornet’s nest in the greenhouse now looks inactive and I am dying to get in there to clean it up – it is full of weeds ):


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July Observations: I Heard it Through the Grape Vine

The vines are conspiring to swallow up my garden: Grape, bind, Clematis, Creeper, Hops, Dutchman’s. Out of all of them the bindweed is the worst (notice I didn’t even give it the honor of a capital B).

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This formerly thought of as fern, smooth sumac, Mountain Ash! – another story in itself and probably planted by birds – is engulfed in Grape, Creeper and I wouldn’t doubt, bindweed.

The best behaved is, believe it or not, Virginia Creeper, sticking to the chain link  fence and not sashaying over to any trees or shrubs. The perennial star is of course, Coral Honeysuckle. Untitled

The youngest, hardy Kiwi.
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The slowest growing, but surely worth the wait if I can keep a clear area, Hydrangea Firefly. Untitled

Then there is annual Grandpa Ott’s Morning Glory that grows with abandon, reseeding itself everywhere.

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Grandpa Ott’s growing with and among squash.

And poor, poor Cardinal patiently waiting in “step land” along with a few others, to be planted. (I recently toured a garden that had a low wall of plants still waiting to be planted and I felt much better about my little step land).

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Step Land

Newly added this year Passion Flower, Gloriosa Lily and Corkscrew who is sporting buds (trying to contain myself!).

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I didn’t expect Passion Flower to grow this large, outgrowing the bamboo tripod and right up to the roofline of our back porch. The other day I counted 6 open blooms – beautiful!

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Corkscrew vine, along with another Grandpa Ott’s Morning Glory, has outgrown the 10 ft copper piping. Gloriosa Lily is tucked in here, too.

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Gloriosa Lily bloom

But I have to step back a minute as the realization dawns, when did I become such a vine addict? I remotely remember in some dark corner file of my mind, “vines bridge the gap between the mid layer of the forest and the canopy completing a layered habitat” or some thought similar. I associate vines with birds and I love the birds. (I also love this song “I Like Birds” by the Eels.)

I remember finding a small bird’s nest in clematis Comtesse de bouchaud when cutting it down one spring for regrowth. It is still running wild. And handsome Dutchman’s Pipe seems to be suffering this year. I would love to transplant him to the front porch.

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Clematis Rooguchie is also running rampant among Bee Balm and Ninebark. Seems he prefers to ramble among the plants and not on the fence.

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Clematis Claire de Lune has taken off this year and has also outrun her support.
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Clematis Claire de Lune

Bindweed has plans to make me blue. The devil has wound its way up my Blue Spruce. The Grapevine is not far behind I see. Untitled

I will PAVE a path into this jungle so that I can keep the vines trimmed if that’s what it takes. My new strategy is to make a path with these 2 inch thick stepping stones. That old path of the nice river rocks? Not a trace of it left. Untitled

I know a man ain’t supposed to cry, but I fear I may. I’ve made so many mistakes. That bindweed? Oh, in my naive days I thought it was “wild morning glory.” It came bound with my Blue Spruce – irresponsible nursery I say. I have never been back to purchase from there. I actually “saved” it to grow on the then chain link fence. I remember writing on this blog how I would rather have bindweed than an ugly, bare chain link fence! Well, we all have our regrets. Another mistake; behold the Wall of Grapes on its second surge after being brutally cut back. Wouldn’t Dutchman’s Pipe be beautiful here instead? How I wish I could “plant it back.”

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The other side of the Wall of Grapes.

Admittingly, however, I love the grapes in winter (not that I’ll be here – ha!) with their cinnamon colored bark and deep, dark berries (if uneaten) drying on the vine. Plus when they flower the whole porch smells like fresh grape juice, kind of a nice feature. Forgiven.

Did I know that Trumpet Vine suckers before I planted it to grow along the rustic arbor? I am not sure but I am not one afraid to make mistakes, obviously. I am sure I would have planted it anyway because I find it so tropical and lush for such a cold, harsh climate. It seems almost a miracle. It is suckering of course, up through the garlic, the raised beds, and on. I still have the dream of it becoming an aged, living arbor kind of magic form in the garden. UntitledUntitledI may even lose my garage to Clematis Virginiana and Hops, if I believe half of what I see. The Clematis actually toppled earlier in the season but she is still loaded with blooms. I have to think metal support soon. Untitled

I still have grand plans for my favorite contractor to build a pergola across the garage above the door to support the Hops. Right now it is growing on parachute line strung up to the roof of the garage. The Hops is also loaded with blooms. Untitled

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Hops

All these vines and this vertical stairway to heaven transport me. I often have visitors to my garden exclaim that it feels like we’re not even in the village – a very welcome compliment! It’s this surround sound of vine and bird that lose you in my garden. I can’t imagine not growing these lush ladders full of life.

Losin’ you would end my life you see, ’cause you mean that much to me … I heard it through the Grapevine.


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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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