The Violet Fern

Creating Art & Gardens


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Day 2 Kanapaha Botanical Gardens, Part 2

Oh, I wanted to save this part of our tour of Kanapaha Botanical Gardens (see Day 1 and Day 2 Part 1) for Gardener Bloggers Bloom Day, hosted by Carol of May Dreams Gardens each month, because I have glorious blooms to share! I missed it by a day or two but I say, it’s never too late, and I know some of you will swoon over these blooms. Keep in mind I’m still struggling with this “island time affliction” and this tour was a couple of weeks ago! These past few days, I have also seen Redbuds in bloom, and holy Robin Batman! There are flocks of Robins all throughout the village here in Cedar Key. I think they’re stocking up on all the Cedar berries and coming soon to a garden near you folks in the North – now isn’t THAT exciting? I cannot tell you how overjoyed I am to be experiencing two Springs this year! I have been waking up to the dawn chorus – Robins, Red-winged Black Birds, Cardinals … it’s coming your way soon – just hang in there! I am certain it will be a most glorious Spring!

Continuing on our tour, we left the Bamboo Gardens and strolled along a wooded path through the Aroid Garden. Just what the heck is an Aroid??? I had to research that a bit = googling Aroid. This is what came up …

1. a plant of the arum family ( Araceae )

“Wikipedia: Araceae is a family of monocotyledonous flowering plants in which flowers are borne on a type of inflorescence (cluster flower or branch arrangement) called a spadix. The spadix is usually accompanied by, and sometimes partially enclosed in, a spathe or leaf-like bract.”

Apparently the flowers are typically smelly – and not in a nice, fragrant way. Aroid-like plants that immediately come to my mind: Peace Lilies, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Corpse Flower and … Trilliums! (But don’t quote me on that. I didn’t spend nearly enough time researching Aroids.)

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Although it would explain why we came upon this beautiful drift of Wake Robin Trillium even though the sign read Devil’s Tongue (another type of Aroid, I’m assuming?) – I beg to differ. These sure look like Wake Robin Trillium to me – what about you? And I just ordered some Trilliums for my garden – so excited!

A small trickling stream runs through the Aroid Garden. So peaceful. Nice lush green.

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Let’s see that GREEN up close!

A place to rest up and a foreshadowing of the Hummingbird Garden?

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Continuing around a bend … BAM! The Spring Flower Garden – aaah, Magnolias! I love Magnolia blooms and I’m betting you do, too.

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Not much happening in the Hummingbird Garden – about what one would expect – lots of salvias, canna lily, plants that display red, tubular flowers but sadly not blooming. After that wondrous February spring fling, somewhat of a disappointment (as winter can be).

But then we entered the Rock Gardens which I have to say, really captured my eye – so many textures and strong forms – very appropriate for Pam at Digging’s Foliage Followup (not to mention some of those Aroid leaves pictured earlier)!

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I fell in love with this plant!

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I didn’t realize the gardens were built above this large lake, named Kanapaha. Aha! Now I get it. Yes, that is a lake where what looks like scrub or meadow. It’s a lake covered in vegetation.

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I’ve yet to see an actual Alligator here, but I’m betting this would be a good spot.

On our way to the Palm Hammock …

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The Palm Hammock and Cycads offered as much, if not more, texture and form as the rock gardens.

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My favorite was this Sago Palm. Just look at the texture of the trunk.

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I’ll conclude with some luscious blooms that you will never see in the Violet Fern Garden … Camellias! Camellias just aren’t hardy enough for my garden climate. The Kanapaha Botanical Gardens hosted a Camellia show. I didn’t attend but I still was able to enjoy these blooms in the Azalea Camellia Garden on our last visit.

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And some “Spring” Azaleas.

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Here’s what it looks like back home (thanks to my neighbor). Not only do I hope my garden hasn’t suffered any damage, but that my car will start! Not quite Spring yet there. Think I’ll be staying here just a bit longer.

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Foliage Follow-up

I rarely join Pam at Digging for foliage follow up mostly due to time constraints, and I am already a day late, but each time I do I am so happy to participate. To me, foliage and textures are more pleasing than a fleeting bloom in general. There are, of course, those blooms that woo. But it is the interlaying of foliage, texture and form that I try to focus upon when actually “designing” my garden which isn’t as often as you might think. I have mostly “reacted” when planting this garden. Bare prison yard, yikes, sure I will take any plants you have to give. Fallen tree? Yes may I please have the chipped bark and wow, I have a lot of space to fill … well, maybe not so much the violets and wild strawberries have gone wild! Cup Plant, Cutleaf Coneflower, Black Eyed Susan, Joe Pye … all crazy wild. These days it is very rare that I have a bare space I can actually contemplate and design. Something is always creeping and pushing its way in and I am always it seems, reacting and not designing. Anyway, containers are a bare platform and I have gravitated towards filling them with foliage rather than blooms. I cannot not think of a better form of foliage than coleus and succulents! (Oh, and begonias.)

This container is just below one of my hummingbird feeders. I think the red coleus attracts them even more so. In the foreground is a Japanese Maple seedling I weeded from one of my gardening jobs. I just couldn’t bare to throw it in the compost, so it is living in a pot – great foliage.

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In my garden, I planted Black Lace, an elderberry hybrid, in place of a Japanese Maple because I fear I would lose a Japanese Maple in our climate. I almost lost Black Lace after last Winter but it has come back and is close to the full size it was. Just look at her black, lacy foliage with hints of green and burgundy – aptly named.

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This is a grouping of containers – a created focal point – on the side of my front porch (so I don’t focus upon the bare stretch of boards and especially, peeling paint). It incorporates some of my favorite begonias I have kept for several years now.

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A succulent container that suffered frost damage last year – I didn’t bring it inside in time – but it’s making a comeback.

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Horsetail in my water container with last year’s rush that didn’t quite come back full force after wintering in my cellar. Still, I love the scale-like foliage of the horsetail and the blue of the rush and I also have some corkscrew rush. They play well together.

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I’ve managed to incorporate some great perennial foliage into the garden over the last couple years. If one cannot grow Gunnera try Ligularia! I finally moved mine last year – I think it was getting too much sun. The move paid off. It is happy this year and the leaves are lusciously large!

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Golden Shadows is also living up to its name. I love this little tree which will grow to 12′. It is a Pagoda Dogwood with special, special foliage. Once it matures … wow.

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I will continue to add foliage and texture to my garden as it evolves. I love the way sunlight and shadows play with foliage. A big thanks to Pam for bringing foliage to light!


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What’s Blooming: Fall Forsythia

There really isn’t such a plant as a Fall Forsythia, but mine seems to blooming in spite of several hard frosts and a snowfall. Tomorrow, highs are expected at sixty degrees fahrenheit, but I don’t believe temperature is the reason for the unexpected fall blooms.

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Apparently a period of stress, followed by improved growing conditions will cause a Forsythia to bloom “off key.” My Forsythia has grown enormous and is in need of a good pruning (which I am waiting for until early spring so I can actually see the structure of this shrub even though I will sacrifice some of those spring blooms). I am sure this shrub stressed during an August dryspell in very crowded conditions. The Forsythia anchors the first bed I created (the Bird & Butterfly Garden), and the entire bed is in need of dividing and thinning. It is also the site of the Black-Eyed Susan Gang Takeover. A rival Joe Pye Gang is also gaining a lot of ground. (I’m thinking I will have a big haul of nice, native plants to offer our cooperative extension for the Master Gardener Plant Sale!)

Aside from Forsythia blooms, it is difficult to believe I do not have much of anything blooming outdoors in the garden at this time. Seems to me it is much too early in the winter season. I did find a brave little Calendula bloom among some Lambs Ear. The honeysuckle has bloomed into December in years past.

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There are other things going on, however – berries! My young Winterberry shrubs are in “full-berry” – the red on Ilex verticillata ‘Oosterwijk’ already picked over by birds. The Ilex verticillata ‘Winter Gold’ still sporting a beautiful orange spray of berries. These shrubs will  be up to 8 feet tall when full grown. They are pollinated by Ilex verticillata ‘Southern Gentleman.’ I have a young Hicks Yew, Taxus x media ‘Hicksii,’ as a backdrop. I am waiting for the day when these plants “come together.”

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My Cranberry Viburnum along the Nice Driveway is also displaying its berries.

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The star of the garden currently is the Pin Oak, Quercus Palustris, which has grown another two feet this year at least! It is still holding most of its leaves and they are a beautiful shade of dark red – a contender for Pam’s (at Digging) Foliage Follow Up. (I remember its first winter in the garden it was nearly girdled by a rabbit.)

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I have installed a copper rain chain instead of a downspout off our back porch (if you can make it out from the ugly green board). Now I have two copper-topped bird feeders (the other a small suet feeder hanging by the chain), and the chain – I love these warm, glowing copper accents in the winter garden – “blooms” if you will.

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Indoors plants are fairing well. Violets are in bloom. The Thanksgiving Cactus is in bud in the succulent table top garden. My current favorite succulent is Flapjacks, Kalanchoe thyrsiflora. Its leaves remind me of a large flower bud.

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Thank you for joining me for yet another Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day and thank Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting.