The Violet Fern

Creating Art & Gardens


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: Flowering Raspberry & Blue Flag

Here it is, June, the transition from Spring to Summer. In spite of my new bunny ranch, I have blooms – it is a miracle! Those bunnies are ravenous and I am considering my first BB gun – not really, only at certain moments such as when I discovered the Morning Glory was eaten to the ground in a blaze of glory. Although discouraged, I do have to remind myself that I chose to garden for wildlife. Here it is!

Bunny Ranch

Things will live through this bunny boom or they won’t and that is gardening. Here’s what’s on the menu and a portion of what’s blooming in the Violet Fern Garden this garden bloggers’ bloom day hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens.

The Woodland Edge is peppered in pinks and purples. For dessert? Flowering Raspberry.

Goats Beard

Goats Beard and Summer Containers in the Woodland Edge

Spiderwort and Columbines

Spiderwort (Tradescantia Osprey), Jacob’s Ladder and Columbines in the Woodland Edge

Blue Flag Iris

Blue Flag Iris II

Our native Blue Flag Iris


Primrose (Primula x bulleesiana)


Amsonia x Blue Ice, Blue Star and Allium Moly

Wild Raspberry and Phlox

Flowering Raspberry (Rhus odoratus), and Wild Sweet William or Meadow Phlox (Phlox maculata)

The Bird & Butterfly Garden is buttered in yellow.

Evening Primrose and Ladys Mantle

Evening Primrose (Oenothera) and Lady’s Mantle (Alchemilla Mollis)

Ladys Mantle in the Rain

Lady’s Mantle (Alchemilla Mollis) after a rain


Baptisia ‘Twilite Prairieblues’

The Riverfront is laced with complex flavors.

Black Lace

Black Lace (Sambucus)

Walkers Low, Snow in Summer, Black Lace

Catmint Walkers Low (Nepeta), Snow in Summer (Cerastium tomentosum), Black Lace (Sambucus)

The Potager is an herbal delight.



Thyme and Purple Perilla

Thyme and Purple Perilla

Sedum from Kring Point

Sedum in a Potager path from a nearby park (I took a cutting)

The new Hosta Row is dotted with Caramel, Heuchera ‘Caramel.’ May I have a Pinot with that?

Coral Bells & Hollyhocks

Heucheras ‘Caramel’ and ‘Pinot Blanco,’ Hollyhocks in background in new section Hosta Row

Can I get you anything else for your dining pleasure? No? Well, thank you, dinner’s on me.


Going Native: Jacob’s Ladder

Jacob’s Ladder, Polemonium reptans L., also known as American Greek Valerian or Abscess Root is one of our native wild flowers that blooms in April and May. It is a perennial herb belonging to the Phlox family.

Jacob’s Ladder grows in shade in moist soil and will go dormant if it becomes too dry. I find mine will take a little sun (in moist soil) in my Northern garden. Mine spreads nicely without being a brute, and I always welcome any new volunteers. Mostly its blooms are a beautiful blue or pink. I also have a white variety. Clusters of these blooms rise above on thin stalks from the base of the plant.

Jacob’s Ladder is recognized by pollination ecologists as attracting large numbers of native bees. It is especially valuable to bumble bees and has been identified by beekeepers and pollination biologists as an important pollen or nectar source (honey plant) so I am happy to have it my garden.

P. Reptans L. is used in herbal medicine for its diaphoretic, astringent and expectorant qualities. An infusion of its roots is considered useful in battling coughs, colds, bronchitis and laryngitis. It may also be used to treat the bites of venomous snakes and insects.

Its leaves are beautiful as well and this plant is called Jacob’s Ladder because of its successive pairs of leaflets. Mine are just beginning to wake up. I find Jacob’s Ladder pairs nicely with astilbes, ferns and hostas. I am letting mine grow as a ground cover all along the Woodland Edge. If you live in the Eastern half of North America from Canada down to Georgia consider adding this native to a shady spot in your garden if you haven’t already.

Sources: Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center, Botanical