The Violet Fern

Creating Art & Gardens


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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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May Observations: The Damage You’ve Done (and the Tulip Tree in June)

“Hey, did you see that?”

“No?”

That was May whizzing by in a blur, speed: super fast with nitro injection (did I ever mention I used to date a drag racer? I don’t like to dredge it up much). May was very unlike the **** (four letter word) Winter which crawled by at a pace so slow one could observe every minute, painful detail (never did date an annalist). Yet these two paces meet up in my observations for May: The Damage You’ve Done. Yeah, if I had a dollar for every shredded leaf you’d make me a millionaire and it wouldn’t repair the damage you’ve done to my garden, Winter baby.

Which brings me to the sad state of my Tulip Tree I am sorry to report. I have been following this tree along with Lucy at Loose and Leafy. It is a good thing I am, too, because at my current pace I may not have noticed how unhappy my Tulip Tree is until too late!

sad tulip tree

I have consulted with my cooperative extension because I am very concerned. I thought that maybe it is suffering from Verticillium Wilt, but the nearby Dogwood shrub, Pin Oak and the neighbor’s Silver Maple are robust and happy if not downright cheerful. If my soil had this fungus, everyone should be showing some sort of sad sign. There also isn’t any evidence of bark striations or a dark ring in a cross section I cut. We have had plenty of rain. If I dig an inch into the soil it is moist, but not too wet, so rule out too much or too little water.

Neighboring Silver Maple

Neighboring Silver Maple

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My happy Pin Oak

The extension and I have concluded that the tree may be planted too deeply.

This is entirely possible since I did plant the tree as a very young sapling – difficult to see any sort of “flare” – and its base was swaddled in Vinca Vine. It would also explain why this tree hasn’t grown as fast as I think it should be from all I have read or heard. The nearby Elm is double the size of the Tulip Tree and it was also planted as a sapling (a sprout from my neighbor’s tree).

tulip tree leader

Time is of the essence! (And it is the one thing I don’t have- arrrghhh!) The question is, do I simply dig out around its base? Or do I dig it all up and replant it higher? I think I will dig out the base, cut away the Vinca, and see if there is any improvement.

I just love this tree and love these leaves – especially when they look happy and healthy.

The beautiful leaves of the Tulip Tree

The beautiful leaves of the Tulip Tree

As I look around, though, I wonder if the tree simply had a rough go of Winter. (Many of my other shrubs are damaged.) Stay tuned as I continue to follow the Tulip Tree … your prayers and well wishes for this tree are welcome!

So, what is the damage Winter has done? It is evident now at the end of May and into June (already!). The Spicebush, Lindera benzoin, surprisingly, have suffered and are very slow to leaf out. No blooms, but they are still young so that didn’t worry me. The branches are supple and the base of these shrubs is nice and green. I’ll wait a little longer and cut back anything not leafy.

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Yet, just down the row, Pagoda Dogwood is loaded with blooms!

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The same leg up symptom is true of my Sambucus Black Lace which was so incredibly beautiful last year. No blooms, slow to leaf out, but a healthy comeback at its base.

black lace winter damageblack lace comeback

It will get the same treatment after waiting just a bit longer. The Cranberry Viburnum and Ninebark along the drive, however, are fully leaved and fully loaded with blooms!

cranberry viburnum happy ninebark

The NJ Tea? Well, R.I.P., sniff, little guy. No signs of any leaves even at the base and not very supple stems. Oh, the damage, the damage you’ve done to me.

RIP NJ Tea

Let’s hope that will not be the same fate of my beloved Tulip Tree!


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Tulip Tree in May

Oh, I am a day behind in joining Loose and Leafy for Follow A Tree. This hectic pace of a race will only get worse as the month “Mayhem” continues … Just to review, the tree I am following in my garden is a young Tulip Tree, Liriodendron tulipifera.

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My Dad gave me this tree. He dug up the sapling up from his yard – the only caveat was that I had to take the Myrtle, too.  Some of you may refer to this plant as Vinca Vine, Vinca Minor or Periwinkle. I’ve read it’s invasive but I have to admit I am enjoying the carpet of flowers, especially against the yellow daffodils, and I did notice the bumble bees were, too – there isn’t much out there yet for my bumble bees so I was happy to see it. So far, it has behaved well for me and I am a big fan of ground covers – less weeding!

tulip tree may 7 2014

The Tulip Tree is 57″ tall and has buds just about to unravel and burst open! And I think I have finally figured out my camera and the buds are in better focus – bonus for you! I hadn’t noticed the nice striation on the bark before this photo. I love that little leaf curl.

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Tulip Tree Bud

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Tulip Tree Bud

Before I started following this tree I would have bet the leaves would be open by now. I decided I would compare a few other tree buds to illustrate this year’s Spring progression. I could begin to compare these every year – that is what is so great about journaling my garden!

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Elm (this is a sapling from my neighbor’s tree)

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Amur Maple (That is my guess. Two of these came with me from Maine in a window box – grown from seed. I suppose that is why they are invasive.)

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Serviceberry Laevis

Pagoda Dogwood - I think this will be a flower!

Pagoda Dogwood – I think this will be a flower!

I have planted all of these trees (and a few more) and I realize I will become a shade gardener over the years. We didn’t have any trees on our lot and I am a tree lover! I really can’t wait for the Serviceberry and Pagoda Dogwood flowers, and much later the Tulip Tree flowers!