The Violet Fern

Creating Art & Gardens


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What’s Blooming: Fall Forsythia

There really isn’t such a plant as a Fall Forsythia, but mine seems to blooming in spite of several hard frosts and a snowfall. Tomorrow, highs are expected at sixty degrees fahrenheit, but I don’t believe temperature is the reason for the unexpected fall blooms.

forsythia

Apparently a period of stress, followed by improved growing conditions will cause a Forsythia to bloom “off key.” My Forsythia has grown enormous and is in need of a good pruning (which I am waiting for until early spring so I can actually see the structure of this shrub even though I will sacrifice some of those spring blooms). I am sure this shrub stressed during an August dryspell in very crowded conditions. The Forsythia anchors the first bed I created (the Bird & Butterfly Garden), and the entire bed is in need of dividing and thinning. It is also the site of the Black-Eyed Susan Gang Takeover. A rival Joe Pye Gang is also gaining a lot of ground. (I’m thinking I will have a big haul of nice, native plants to offer our cooperative extension for the Master Gardener Plant Sale!)

Aside from Forsythia blooms, it is difficult to believe I do not have much of anything blooming outdoors in the garden at this time. Seems to me it is much too early in the winter season. I did find a brave little Calendula bloom among some Lambs Ear. The honeysuckle has bloomed into December in years past.

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honeysuckle

There are other things going on, however – berries! My young Winterberry shrubs are in “full-berry” – the red on Ilex verticillata ‘Oosterwijk’ already picked over by birds. The Ilex verticillata ‘Winter Gold’ still sporting a beautiful orange spray of berries. These shrubs will  be up to 8 feet tall when full grown. They are pollinated by Ilex verticillata ‘Southern Gentleman.’ I have a young Hicks Yew, Taxus x media ‘Hicksii,’ as a backdrop. I am waiting for the day when these plants “come together.”

redwberry

orangewberry

My Cranberry Viburnum along the Nice Driveway is also displaying its berries.

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The star of the garden currently is the Pin Oak, Quercus Palustris, which has grown another two feet this year at least! It is still holding most of its leaves and they are a beautiful shade of dark red – a contender for Pam’s (at Digging) Foliage Follow Up. (I remember its first winter in the garden it was nearly girdled by a rabbit.)

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I have installed a copper rain chain instead of a downspout off our back porch (if you can make it out from the ugly green board). Now I have two copper-topped bird feeders (the other a small suet feeder hanging by the chain), and the chain – I love these warm, glowing copper accents in the winter garden – “blooms” if you will.

rainchain

Indoors plants are fairing well. Violets are in bloom. The Thanksgiving Cactus is in bud in the succulent table top garden. My current favorite succulent is Flapjacks, Kalanchoe thyrsiflora. Its leaves remind me of a large flower bud.

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violetblooms

succulentgarden

flapjack

Flapjacks

Thank you for joining me for yet another Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day and thank Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting.

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November Observations: Bye Bye Blackbird

Wonderful, warm November – doesn’t that sound odd? But it has been, was. This morning it is 12° F. The first few snowflakes swirled in our sky on November 24. By November 28 the ground is white. I found it unusual to see a Red-winged Blackbird at my feeder. They usually leave for warmer climates by now. Each year I try to record when I think they have finally migrated:

2009: Last Red-winged Blackbird sighting recorded on November 2
2010: Last Red-winged Blackbird sighting recorded on November 11
2011: Not recorded, but last Grackle sighting recorded on November 7 – the Redwings are usually not far behind
2012: Last Red-winged Blackbird sighting recorded on November 28

The first to leave are males in their prime followed by their ladies. The last to leave are usually the young males not quite matured into their full black feathers. Young males are what I have been seeing at the feeders this month.

November is typically described as drab, grey but this Fall it has been anything but.

Pin Oak Leaves Nov 2012
The red leaves of Pin Oak

Maple Seeds
Maple Seedlings

Switch Grass in Nov
Switch Grass

crabapplesinnov
Purple Prince Crabapples

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Winterberry ‘Winter Gold’

The red Winterberries were eaten before I had a chance to photograph them! This year I’ve fenced in my young shrubs foregoing the chicken wire wrap. I read somewhere, and apologize for not remembering the source, that rabbits don’t like to feel fenced in and a simple gate around your shrubs will deter them from dining. We’ll find out if it works.

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Fenced in to deter rabbits

Snow on Sumac
First snow

Again, Garden Bloggers Bloom Day has snuck past me. Aside from berries and a few fading blooms of Coral Honeysuckle and Scabiosa, not much blooms for me in November with the exception of this surprise Daisy.

November Daisy
Surprise Daisy bloom

And so “dull, grey” November fades into gleeful, glitzy December. I am thankful to take in its natural beauty before it goes.

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Bye bye blackbird. I look forward to your return in Spring.