The Violet Fern

Creating Art & Gardens


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What’s Blooming: Sage is the Rage

My husband turned to me last evening and said “frost warning.” WHAT?! I am definitely not ready for THAT – not ready at all. I shrugged it off – it was a warning on his cell phone. We live close to the river. Though, I must admit the first thing I did this morning was check the temperature on my cell phone: 46° F, whew! So, let’s celebrate another Garden Bloggers Bloom Day while we can, eh? I credit Carol at May Dreams Gardens on the 15th of each month for making me stop to smell the flowers so to speak.

Last year around this time I remember thinking my Helianthus Microcephalus was declining – not so. This year it is bigger and badder than ever and full of bumbles. A little floppy with recent rain.

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Last year around this time I remember thinking to myself I will divide those Black Eyed Susans – not so, never happened. Believe it or not my husband dragged a ladder through here to finally patch the hole near the roof of our garage/workshop the Starlings were kind enough to point out to us one Spring, and to clean out the gutters. He patched not one, but two holes. I’m thinking we should maybe patch a few things with impenetrable Black Eyed Susans.

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Another patch that needs my DIvided attention, is Obedient Plant along the nice driveway. Last year it flopped over and this year is a repeat performance. The bees don’t mind as much as I do.

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Indian Grass, in contrast, stands tall. I love the spikelets (a new word I just taught myself which refers to the flower clusters on grass florets) on this grass!

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And surprise! The False Sunflower given to me by a friend last fall is now blooming. I didn’t think it made it as it is on the edge of the Nice Driveway which receives the brutal brunt of the weather. It’s not attracting bumbles right now but a different kind of insect.

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Another bumble friendly plant this time of year that I don’t give enough credit to, is Garlic Chives now blooming in the Potager.

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Also in the Potager, Lemon Gem Tagetes. I was supposed to eat more of these (and those garlic chives now that I think of it)! I think they also help keep Mosquitos away.

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Leaving the Potager and strolling down the yet unfinished Hosta Row, Heuchera ‘Pinot Blanco’ is blooming again! Have to love Pinot!

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Hydrangea Quickfire’s beginning to burn – the creamy blooms now turning a burnished pink.

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Which will bring us to the Nice Driveway again and my container of Pineapple Sage and lime – Nicotiana and Zinnia. I used to grow Pineapple Sage in Maine and marveled at how large it became for an annual – shrub size. Then just before frost its tips catch fire with fiery red blooms that no hummingbird can resist! I snatched it up immediately when I saw it at our local nursery. I enjoy watching the hummingbirds hover around this container just as I imagined when I dragged it up from the bottom of our driveway to dress up our sea of pavement.

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We’ll continue on to the Riverfront which is showing signs of my neglect. Still, Russian Sage impresses with a backdrop of Black Lace. Black Lace made an amazing comeback this year after our last harsh Winter. And no, I have not cut back the dieback yet. Someday, someday …

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I hate to be reminded of our last Winter but hear that this Winter will also be quite severe. There are signs also that what I hear is true – fruit. Lots of food.

The Purple Prince Crabapples out front are loaded.

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I thought this was a crabapple tree also planted out front, but now I’m beginning to wonder. These are some pretty large crabapples and there are lots of them.

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The grapes on our front porch are dripping and just beginning to form. I love when the leaves yellow and the dark berries burst.

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The Cranberry Viburnum is also loaded up. Really spectacular this year.

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Next month there will be less blooming but it will be ALL about foliage! The Kopper King Hibiscus is just starting to show off and with that I’ll leave those of you who pine for Fall in the Northeast, anticipating …

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What’s Growing: Kale & Collards

I am enjoying the cooling nights and misty mornings of this August after a hot and dry spell of Summer. I continue to water the Potager. The crack in the earth near the compost continues to grow. Many of my perennials have begun to go dormant. The kale and horseradish are indifferent. The Perilla weeps and sleeps during the day but awakens each evening.

In just a few days, the pole and scarlet runner beans live up to the tale of Jack and the Beanstalk … they now completely cover their trellis and are searching for more. The bush and soybeans were enjoyed by the rabbits.

The bees are becoming lazy. I catch them napping in the squash, under the leaves of the Coneflowers, on the moppy heads of Joe-pye. The surprise squash I let grow among the patty pan or scalloped squash are ornamental gourds! Much to my delight they have taken to growing up the rustic arbor.

We have harvested garlic, scallions, peppers. Hopefully the potato bin is full. It needs to be harvested soon.

Tomato sandwiches and homemade sauce are on the menu. Apparently some of the lower Romas are also on the menu for the chipmunks! I love to lightly pan stir the cherries with garlic and olive oil then drizzle them over pasta or baguette.

The garlic chives are beginning to bloom. The collards and brussel sprouts are lost in a sea of Borage. Everywhere creeps Calendula. Anyone want seeds? The artichokes choked – not even a flower. Next year I will try again in the soil (not raised bed) with plenty of water. Any other advice?


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What’s Growing

Inside my seedlings continue to grow. The scarlet runner and purple hyacinth beans are really taking off. I’ve had to pot them up. I need to address the tomatoes next. They really should be potted up. The peppers are just starting. I had been putting all these seedlings outside on my covered front porch a couple hours a day for better sun but it has stayed so cold here that some of them actually shriveled right up and died! (Sort of like spring.) I have been keeping them indoors all day since then. Most bounced right back. Hopefully next week will warm up a bit. I am sure they can’t wait to get their roots into the earth. How hopeful I am when I look at these starts and think of Earth Day. What better way to celebrate than to expand the garden, feed its soil and us, too!

Outside (in the near freezing cold) my milk jug plantings are just sprouting – so far hyssop and larkspur.

Back in the potager, things are starting to happen.

Rhubarb
Strawberries

Tarragon
Garlic Chives & Chives

Garlic
Snap Peas

This year I planted my peas really early after reading that in the Northeast, peas should be planted after St. Patrick’s Day. I think that may be why my peas have not always done so well. Hopefully, this year, starting out in the cold (and it is c-c-cold), they will do better. We sure will find out!