The Violet Fern

A Colorful Tale of a Garden in the Making


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What’s Blooming: Summer Nights

A little late to the game but it’s July and peak bloom season for most everyone in the Northeast, but I would say my garden peaks in Autumn with Joe (Pye) and Susan (Black-eyed) getting it on. They are showing signs of love, but here’s what’s blooming right now in the Violet Fern Garden during Garden Blogger’s Bloom Days hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens.

A rare look from above on the Bird & Butterfly and Woodland Gardens. As you can see, I have a jungle on my hands.

Stepping a little over to the right and you can see the swell of grass path where I plan to put in a small pond. You can also catch a glimpse of the Potager just beyond the garage/workshop.
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Every now and then I try to stand back from the flower close-ups so you get a better feel for the jungle, ah hem, I mean garden. Summer Nights have seeded themselves prolifically in the Bird & Butterfly and Nice Driveway gardens. I under appreciate this plant. It is beautiful with dark burgundy stems and that yellow that sometimes flushes orange from the center “cones” that go through various stages of forms from tightly woven dark burgundy to puffy orange polka dots. The bees seem to love it in every stage. That is the yellow you see in the above shots (taken from the roof of my back porch). The White is Shasta Daisy, the red Bee Balm.

 A Rudbeckia Maxima, Giant Cone snuck in here!

Summer Nights along the Nice Driveway along with Arborvitae, Ninebark, and Cranberry Viburnum and just a glimpse of Bee Balm.

Bee Balm is also in its glory. I have a red in the Bird & Butterfly Garden and also along the Nice Driveway. Untitled Untitled

I have a pink variety of Bee Balm out front mixed with Purple Cones and Verbascum right now.  Much is happening out front but I don’t go there often, preferring the privacy in our back garden. I love Sea Holly now blooming and think I will try to incorporate a larger variety in the Bird & Butterfly garden.

Butterfly Weed is about to burst into bloom.

Russian Sage blooms shrub size. As you can see behind that Black Lace has recovered, once again, from our harsh winter with a vengeance. It even bloomed this year.

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Black Lace flower

The Honeysuckle is in full swing along the left side of our front porch which we are finally beginning to scrape and paint. I am excited to have the front porch shaped up a bit. It is a beautiful porch and it’s a shame we don’t sit on it more often. We are going to use deck repair paint in Hedgerow green. I can’t wait to get rid of the cold, battleship grey – not that there’s much of it left. The Grapevines that climb along the right side of our porch believe it or not, were pruned early on. With the shrubs and trees now filling in and offering a bit more privacy along with the vines and a new paint job, I believe I will sit out here more often.

Looking out the front door to the crabapples out front. Grapevines cover the trellis work to the right.

Front porch with tongue and groove scraped and ready to be repainted. I think the new green color will be a nice lead way to the garden beyond. Crabapple, and honeysuckle to the left.

I had an Autumn Clematis mixed in here with the honeysuckle and I thought it had died last year but whoops, there it is making a comeback.

 Also exciting, my hardy kiwi vine is finally reaching the trellis on the left back side of the front porch which will be replaced with welded wire very soon. (You can see that we need to paint very badly and the trellis panel is shot.)  Last year I also thought New Jersey Tea had died but I think it has finally settled in next to the honeysuckle. It has the most blooms it’s ever had this year. UntitledOn the back porch Passion Flower Betty Miles Young is growing nicely. She blooms continuously. This year we should also have our back porch sided with real siding! We are choosing a plastic cedar shake shingle style – maintenance free so there’s more time to garden – in a warm color that harmonizes with the stucco.

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Yes, I see and enjoy the Passion flower blooms from a seat inside the window.

  On the copper tripod (fancy bird perch) set in a whiskey/wine barrel, Grandpa Ott’s Morning Glory and, so excited, Gloriosa Lilies bloom. The Corkscrew Vine is growing nicely here as well, but no blooms yet. Lime Nicotiana and Love in a Mist reseeded themselves here, too.

Morning Glory, Grandpa Ott’s

Gloriosa Lily bloom

Lime Nicotiana

Love in a Mist, Persian Violet Nigella

In the fiberglass pot made to look like faux bark where the water catches from my rain chain, a water lily blooms. Untitled

The Woodland Edge is alive with blooms, too, some of my favorites like Queen of the Prairie. It is also being devoured by bindweed which I will attack tomorrow on my one day (not enough) in my garden.

Ligularia ‘The Rocket’

Culver’s Root with bamboo stakes to keep from flopping (ha!) and Meadow Rue, Thalictrum, in the background.

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Queen of the Prairie, Filipendula rubra

More Queen of the Prairie with Persicaria Firetail

Trumpet Vine blooms on the arbor to the Potager. Calendula and Borage continue to take over the Potager. Moonlight Nasturtium and Chamomile also bloom. I think I have more flowers than vegetables in the Potager now. Untitled

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Borage

Finally we come round to Hosta Row where Heuchera and Hydrangea Quickfire are in bloom. An unknown flower blooms here, too – perhaps a wild phlox? Anyone? And lastly, Snowball Hydrangea heavy with blooms. That’s hops growing up to the left. I can barely pass through here anymore.

Did I say I think my garden peaks in Autumn?


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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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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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