The Violet Fern

Creating Art & Gardens


August Observations: The Ugly Truth


The month of August has had me thinking – thinking deeply, big, small, expansive, narrow, in circles, with direction … I breathe a huge sigh just “thinking” about the thinking I’ve done. I used to find solace in the garden. It used to quiet my mind. It was my church, my sacred space, my meditation, but now all I see is chaos – much like my office/studio. I can’t help but feel that I am falling apart and my tower, my world, is overrun and toppling down.

Bishop’s weed always gets away from me. It engulfs this poor beautiful Fernspray Cypress. This poor cypress that endures heavy loads of snow and ice through winter, and tangles of bishop’s weed through summer. Should I give in? Move the cypress to a better spot – oh, but where would that be? Start over with something more pyramidal that the dreaded weed can’t grow through? The bishop’s weed takes over the cypress, the jewelweed takes over the Dogwood (that badly needs more pruning), the bindweed takes over everything else. A catchy little verse: the bishops weed is connected to the cypress, the jewelweed is connected to the dogwood, the bindweed is connected to everything …

This is just the beginning of my garden. I walk on. And what’s this? Oh, MORE bishop’s weed setting up shop under the maple.


Under this muppet monster of a flowering raspberry shrub is a spice bush fighting for its life, a Pagoda trying to rise above, flag iris that have succumbed, a big bluestem that has well, never become big. Yes, I cringe each time I walk by. After all, I am walking death row.

Under all these rudbeckia and cup plant? Three winterberry and what used to be a lovely river rock path. I can’t even plant beneath the repurposed trellis as I can’t get to it.


Walking on, still checking off what seems a nearly impossible list of things that need to be done, I stumble upon the strawberry invasion. Yes, I have to walk upon strawberries – that is my path – better than burning coals, I suppose. More rudbeckia. More cup plant. More violets. More? … too much.

Moving on to the greenhouse which I lost the courage to enter for this past month because of hornets: now wild with weed. More weeds. So much for weed fabric – a complete hoax. I hate the stuff. Untitled

The Asparagus forest holding out against perilla. The horseradish losing the battle.


Hosta row? Completely covered in clematis.


That weed patch I so picked apart and destroyed last year? Back with a vengeance.


The ugly truth is my garden has gotten away from me – far away from me, and breaking up is hard to do! I try to console myself that it is wild, natural, evolving but the ugly truth is that my garden and I are growing apart. I have lost touch with it somehow – that spiritual connection is waning – and I feel, well, lost. Will we ever “get back together?” We need therapy! Blood, sweat, and tears.

My dream summer gardening job is taking its toll on my own garden even though I swore it wouldn’t. I fear a few more years decline and I can’t help but think … what will become of my own poor garden???  The ugly truth is that my dream gardening job is nothing more than “glorified weed laborer” and it is the last thing I want to do when I get home, or on a Saturday. Yes, there, gardening has become work and therein lies the problem.

What should I do? I love my garden, I need my garden. I need to restore my faith.

My last grit of fight is to take a LOT of time this fall to rip out, edge, weed with the hopes that I can jump ahead of next spring or at least maintain a steady pace. I am thinking about taking out ALL the rudbeckia and most of the cup plant. I am thinking I will move the spicebush in a last ditch survival method. I am thinking I will dig up those strawberries and contain them in a new, raised bed. I am thinking I will mulch, mulch, mulch. I am thinking I will hire myself! Then, I will have to think about ways I can get back together with my garden.

What about you? Has your garden ever gotten away from you? Please share your comebacks!



What’s Blooming: Pretty Weeds

Well now, I was going to post What’s Growing “soon” as in the beginning of the month, but here we are the 15th of June – Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens. What’s Growing will have to wait like these plants on the steps of my back porch – still waiting to be planted – but some, not waiting to bloom.


As you can see it is a bit of a foggy morning after night rains which I am grateful for as we were very dry not so long ago – now we are thoroughly watered.

Looking forward onto the Bird & Butterfly and Woodland Edge Gardens – the pink and purple phase with splashes of Evening Primrose, Oenothera. The field of grass in the foreground will one day become a walkway of stone or paver or crushed gravel or even boardwalk. The pond will be nestled in between these two beds.



Oenothera with Lady’s Mantle in the background in the Bird & Butterfly Garden.

I have been singling out “problem areas” in my garden – not really problems – but areas that require too much of my time that I want to rework to grow without my meddling so much. This is one of them. I had began a stone path through here, but as you can see (or not) it is now completely overgrown – I’m going to switch to large stone pavers to make a path through here. This is where bindweed reigns but overlook that and see the blooms of a pretty purple Columbine, Jacob’s Ladder in purple and white, Cranesbill Geranium, and Tradescantia. The bamboo pole marks a special plant I actually planted (novel!) that I want to be sure doesn’t become lost. The wooden framework is for continuing the construction of a wooden fence we began last year.


Flowering Raspberry never disappoints and is larger than ever. Much of my garden work is now pruning and cutting back vs. planting/weeding. It is swallowing a spicebush (another problem area) that I am going to move to a different spot (where oh where?) so I do not have to worry about it becoming eaten. The Pagoda Dogwood and Serviceberry should rise above eventually. I love to walk by this native shrub because you can hear it! – the buzzing and humming of bees.


A pot of fuchsia, Angel Earrings, in the Woodland Edge to break it up a bit. A treat for hummers. I bought two more hummingbird feeders but now I’m thinking why don’t I just hang / pot “natural hummingbird feeders” – less work.


I thought I scored at the Master Gardener plant sale some Agapanthus which I potted up in the Bird & Butterfly Garden – again for a bit of a break – but I’m thinking it looks more like an Iris bloom – we shall find out. That’s Baptisia, in the background.



In the Potager thyme, chives, and this beautiful ornamental clover (a pretty weed?), Trifolium Rubens, bloom or are about to bloom. That is my “Asparagus Forest” in the background – to think I was worried about it coming back earlier in the Spring! – ha ha.


Golden Shadows Pagoda Dogwood looks like blooms in Hosta Row just beyond Red Twig Dogwood in the foreground – yes, this is the one that was nearly eaten to sticks last year by Dogwood Sawfly caterpillars. Further on, hydrangea just about ready to bloom. That is native Clematis Virginiana on the left (not a tree) engulfing our workshop wall.


In the Nice Driveway Garden, these allium were planted to bloom with the poppies. The poppies are finished blooming – I never really had perfect timing.


False Sunflowers are coming in bigger and better this year – thank you Angie!


Out front the Coral Honeysuckle never disappoints though it has a bit of an aphid problem again. I know nature will balance out. Our front porch declines, this lattice will have to come down before winter. It is falling apart. We will replace it with welded wire and I think the plants will be more of the focus.


Pretty Milkweed continues to grow in my front walk along with Mugo Pine and Catmink Walkers Low – and not where I placed all its pods last year.



It’s not just pretty to me so I let it blossom.


What’s Blooming: June Bloom

It’s been rainy here but today in June, the sun blooms. Purple podded peas … blooming in the sun.


Also in the Potager, herbs like chives and thymes are in flower. Borage is on the brink.


Chamomile (and Vetch) running rampant.


A first, Ornamental Clover, Trifolium Rubens, just beginning to bloom. (Last year the rabbits mowed it down.)


Just beginning, the first drops of Oenothera, in the Bird & Butterfly Garden (a blue and yellow stage along with Lady’s Mantle, Cranesbill).


Baptisia Twilite Prairieblues …


The Woodland Edge in its “Pink Fairy” stage with Tradescantia varieties brought to me by Jean’s Garden.



Jack in the Pulpit lingers in the shadows.


Flowering Raspberry, Rubus odoraus, is buzzing and vibrating with bees. Listen.



Meadow phlox, Phlox maculata or Wild Sweet William is loaded.


Flanked by Northern Blue Flag Iris.


Opposite the Woodland Edge, in new Hosta Row, Heucheras ‘Caramel’ and ‘Pinot Blanco’ soak up the sun.


Gazania Kiss Frosty Mix, kissed by the sun, out front where the sun is full.


Superfinia Petunia Lavender Lace in a window box.


A sweet seat on the front porch next to what I’ve dubbed as “hummingbird honey suckle.”


On the other side you can see the waterfall of blooms.


Sitting on the front porch you can take in the scent of Dianthus Greystone.


Chives and Catmint Walker’s Low line the sidewalk.


Common Milkweed is just beginning to bloom (IN the sidewalk), but I’ve yet to see a Monarch here in my garden.


If I were a Monarch, I would visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens for a great list of blooming gardens on Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day.