The Violet Fern

Creating Art & Gardens


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Well, IT’s Here …

Yesterday we woke up to the first of IT. Today we woke up to IT again. IT is predicted in our weather forecast for the next four days, through Friday. IT is doing its thing right now. [Sigh.] I still have a few bulbs to plant.

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Waking up to IT

I didn’t quite finish prepping the beds in the Potager, either. I have just one more bed to compost and “leaf up.” The other I’m still harvesting. I also want to mulch the Asparagus. But I did manage to clean up four of the beds and add a layer of compost and a thick layer of leaves and grass clippings (aka “leafing up”). The garlic is planted and snug under one of those leafy blankets. I also managed to dig up the horseradish. I use its own leaves as a winter cover since they are so large and I can layer them alternately so the wind won’t blow them away – or maybe even use them as a raft or something! Probably not the best idea since diseases can harbor in that cover but I am not even aware of any horse radish afflictions and it always grows like mad.

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During my clean up attempts I discovered that I killed a small Alberta Spruce due to my neglect. [Sigh.] You see the raspberries are planted behind the greenhouse. I was going to move them after we put up the greenhouse but then, well, Summer happened. And well, wild grapes grow on the fence line. I had some Tansy planted next to the raspberries because I read somewhere (forgive me, I do not remember where) that Tansy is a good companion plant for raspberries. And there is some Lemon Balm growing in that little strip of border along the fence before the path. Well, all of it went quite wild and became an entangled mess. Before I knew it, the raspberry vines were growing into the greenhouse through the vents! I couldn’t even make my way behind the greenhouse. That poor little tree was snuffed right out. Whew, confessions of a killer gardener, relief. I will move those raspberries come Spring because I already have a spot planned, prepped and mapped out for them – that helps – A LOT. And I have another poor little Alberta Spruce that isn’t quite yet snuffed out. I think I will move it and add another on either side of the greenhouse to make it all quaint and formal in this wild patch of my world. I’m actually looking forward to it.

[Sigh.] Anyway, I thought maybe I would escape IT but I haven’t migrated soon enough. But this is what I love about the garden: I venture out and begin walking through it admonishing myself for things yet undone, swearing at this other four letter word, and then it slowly works its magic and I am captivated. IT is really quite beautiful and peaceful – the world is hushed. The Pin Oak still has some of its leaves and they are now a deep shade of red.

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A last Hydrangea bloom.

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Calendulas still bloom in the Potager.

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I still have many greens in the Potager, too, which we will eat up before we migrate either sautéed or in morning smoothies. Brussels, too. IT will bring out their flavor.

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Siberian Kale, Collards and Broccoli Rabe

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My favorite Lacinato Kale

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Brussels

I am admiring all the berries I have now in the garden. I thought I might get a good picture of the Winterberry but those birds snuck in and scarfed up every last one of the red berries. The orange, Winter Gold, still remain but will be gone by Winter’s end.

Winter Gold

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Cranberry Viburnum

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Crabapple Purple Prince

Unknown “mega” crabapple

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Yellow Twig Dogwood

I know the birds will eat these fruits while I migrate. I am comforted when I see the gold finches and sparrows feeding among the Black-eyed Susans and Helianthus even though a bird feeder sits just a few feet away. I know when the feeder is empty, the garden will still provide.

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Time to serve up the pumpkins, too. [Sigh.] IT’s here …

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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 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?