The Violet Fern

A Colorful Tale of a Garden in the Making


What’s Blooming: Mexican Sunflowers on a Chili Day

We’ve had some cooler weather here – nights into the lower 40s. Tomorrow night’s low is predicted to be 37 F! But that’s not stopping the “bloom boom.” I am wearing a fleece and socks – yes socks! – taking my pictures this morning, er I mean afternoon (because time flies). It is cooler today, overcast. Mojo (golden doodle lower left) loves the cooler weather and seems to be smelling the flowers but more likely, a chipmunk or rabbit recently passed through the garden.

Mojo Smells the Flowers

These Helianthus in the Bird & Butterfly section of the garden are so welcome each fall and are always loaded with bees.


Behold the Black-eyed Susan takeover. You can just barely see the head of the driftwood “heron,” and the bird bath is completely hidden.

Black Eyed Susan Takeover

I just planted this New York Aster, Wood’s Purple in the Woodland Edge section of the garden and love it. I had another Wood’s aster out front in the Riverfront section but I think it was slowly ingested by the Creeping Jenny this year.

Wood's Purple

Also new to the Woodland Edge is this Turtlehead, now in full bloom.


These Mexican Sunflowers warm me up even on “chili” days. They are now a “must” on my list of things to plant each year.

Mexican Sunflowers

This was such a welcome sight! After months of barely a flutter, yesterday three Monarchs circled this patch of Mexican Sunflowers. Today one remains. Can’t help but admire the orange on orange.

Welcome Sight

Strangely, Sunflowers are not the tallest stalks in the garden. This Amaranth towers above towering 3 to 4 ft. marigolds. I wanted more flowers in the Potager but not exactly a skyscraper scape. The Amaranth has a muppet-like quality to it I think. Maybe I should add some googly eyes on it for Halloween?

Amaranth Tower

Very welcome in the Potager are these Cathedral Bells now blooming on what was formerly the pea trellis. This is the first time I have had success with this annual vine and it has been worth the effort!

Cathedral Bell Bloom

Inside the Bell

Obedient Plant blooms throughout the garden but especially makes an impact along the Nice Driveway this time of year.

Obedient Drive

So does this Phlox, its puffy white clouds drifting over the fuzzy plumes of a mystery grass in a Nice Driveway area I’ve marked as a problem spot that I need to rework.

Fluffy Phlox

Sedums are just about to bloom out front in the Riverfront section of the garden.

Sedum Sidewalk

Sedum Matrona in front of Butterfly Weed. I thought the Butterfly Weed didn’t come back this year but “Surprise!”

Sedum Matrona

Butterfly Weed

Another successful Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day hosted by the wonderful Carol at May Dreams Gardens.


What’s Blooming: Hey Joe and Here Comes the Sun

Yet another Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day, celebrated the 15th of each month and hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens. My garden is looking “tired” – a reflection of me? I am tired. Tired and struggling with allergies. The garden is beating me down. I have managed to cut a few things back, tidy up a bit, add a few small paths but that’s about all. Not much harvesting going on either – fresh salad, herbs and cucumbers.

Joe Pye is everywhere! But I love, love its big floppy, purple heads – all loaded with sleepy bees. I am going to move some of the volunteers to a new corner of the garden.

Joe in the Potager

Joe Pye in the Potager

The Susans are also prolific even in spite of the severe rabbit pruning they received earlier this summer. They are taking over the Bird & Butterfly Garden (along with Joe). I will need to thin them this fall so the bee balm and coneflowers have more room to grow. My asters are buried and so is Husker’s Red – more moving around.

Susans in the Bird & Butterfly Garden

Joe Pye and Susans in the Bird & Butterfly Garden

Nodding onions are the star of the garden now. Great blue lobelia is just revealing itself.

Woodland Edge August

Great Blue Lobelia and Nodding Onions along the Woodland Edge

Nodding Onions

Nodding Onions up close

Iron Weed has just come into bloom – flop. Lots of flopping going on. Don’t you just hate that?

Iron Weed

Well, I wanted more flowers in the Potager and I have them!

Flowers in the Potager

Calendula and marigolds blanket the paths. Trumpet vine gone wild. These marigolds are 3-4′ tall!

3' Marigolds in the Potager

Sunflowers are also beginning to bloom. I didn’t think any of them would make it given the rabbits’ taste for sunflower sprouts!

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Mexican Sunflower

This Amaranth is taller than the sunflowers – almost 7′!

7' tall Amaranth

I find most of the action – blooms and birds, bees, etc. – in the Potager and Woodland Edge, but there is more going on in the new Hosta Row. Clematis Virginiana is blooming for the first time! Too bad the wind wreaked havoc on its trellis. That’s just the way it goes in gardening it seems. The snowball hydrangea bloom on and on and on (along with the Dogwood shrubs this year), in Hosta Row and along the Nice Driveway where the wall of grape and hydrangea has filled in completely.

Native Clematis Virginiana

Native Clematis Virginiana

Snowball hydrangeas in Hosta Row

Dogwood and Snowball hydrangeas in Hosta Row

Wall of grapes and hydrangea

Wall of grapes and hydrangea

New Hydrangea ‘Quickfire’ is blooming alongside Heuchera ‘Pinot Bianco.’

Hydrangea 'Quickfire' and Heuchera 'Pinot Bianco'

White Phlox that belonged to my grandmother also bloom along the Nice Driveway. Fresh against the fading Bee Balm.

Phlox in Nice Driveway

Pink phlox blooms out front through a veil of Karl Foerester Feather Reed grass.

Pink Phlox through Karl Forester

Mints are coming into bloom throughout the garden. Catmint blooms non-fail all summer in the Riverfront.

Catmint Walkers Low

Soon to be outdone by the Russian Sage.

Russian Sage

I don’t look out front too often but I’ll have to keep an eye on it as things are coming into bloom like this young NJ Tea and butterfly weed. This sheered off Mt. Bluet Centaurea is reblooming, too.

Mt Bluet Centaurea

Mt Bluet Centaurea reblooms

New Jersey Tea Buds

New Jersey Tea Buds

Butterfly Weed Buds

Butterfuly Weed Buds

Of course, the honeysuckle blooms all summer until frost and even into December!

Honeysuckle in August

Coral Honeysuckle

This is the home stretch. Not much more blooms from hereon out but beautiful Fall color to look forward to. Nights have been cool and some of the trees are already going dormant. Early fall this year? Obedient Plant is just starting to bloom – have to love a late bloomer like Obedient Plant even if it is a thug.

Obedient first blooms

Be sure to join in Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day by visiting Carol at May Dreams Gardens.