The Violet Fern

Creating Art & Gardens


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What’s Blooming: I’m a PAN FAN!

Whoa, I almost ran right by Gardener’s Bloom Day hosted by Carol of May Dreams Gardens each month so that we have flowers every day of the year. Fortunately, I’m putting on the brakes. There isn’t much blooming per say in the Violet Fern garden but she still has color – lots of rich, enticing color.

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I have been in the garden very little but I still love her and I do spend whatever minute I can. I am plagued by a cat – stray or roaming I’m not sure which – and my beloved birds have taken notice and become scarce. I spent years planting and planning this garden to attract birds and it is somewhat disheartening that a careless neighbor, or unfortunate cat, can have so much impact upon my creative space, but there you have it. It has taught me to let go a bit more and so I have. I am still connected to the garden but my connection is much more amoebic.

The Pin Oak is just starting to turn. I think it is perhaps my favorite Fall foliage in the garden.

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Although, Cardinal Dogwood is a close rival. The old limbs have the most color and I planned to prune them off but I am going to wait just a little bit longer so I enjoy the show.

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And of course, Highbush Blueberry rivals any ol’ invasive Burning Bush. Tucked in here in the Potager.

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But then there are the Mellow Yellows … Spicebush Lindera benzoin (the one that survives). I will unbury the other one soon and move it from beyond the strangling arms of bindweed and Flowering Raspberry.

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And the Tulip Tree is such a glorious sight as he was in a bit of trouble not so long ago. He grew taller this year so I know things are on the upswing.

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Ooh, and then there is the beautiful sea foam green of Baptisia.

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But how about the texture of these garlic chive blossoms among Germander – ah.

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Vibrunum Cranberry doesn’t have much leaf color yet but that’s only because all the color is in the berries!

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And, wow, look at them apples! This is a tree I planted from some prunings I took from the side of the road one year for holiday display in my window boxes. One of the “apples” must have rooted so yes, it is planted from seed so to speak. I can’t believe how big it is now. And those apples – look at those apples! Each year I question if it is in fact from the Crabapple prunings I took or if I somehow chanced across an apple tree.

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So, what is blooming? Orchid Frost Lamium – blooms nonstop all season Spring into Fall frost. I love it beneath the Blue Spruce. They compliment each other well.

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Another all star blooming is Calendula which I planted from seed only once, four or five years ago. I have grown very fond of this tough little annual that throws itself around with abandon.

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Making me happy this year is Chrysanthemum Mary Stoker. Finally she is blooming and I just love her rich, ripe color. She is poking through Hydrangea Quickfire. Shoo fly!

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Another wonder bloomer is Persicaria. I wish I had more Persicaria varieties and maybe I will when I redesign this area of the garden. Firetail is a long bloomer, carefree and very attractive to bees. Her leaves are big and her flowers like little wands rising above casting magic about.

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Surprise! Johnny Jumped up into this little woodland container long after the petunia dried up.

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Even though there was a slight frost upon the rooflines this morning, Nasturtium in the Potager continues to look great.

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I am admiring Solidago ‘Fireworks’ this year more so than other years in my Nice Driveway. It looks great beside our native Indian Grass. I think I want more of this in my garden, too. Not that my garden needs more plants but I think it’s important now for me to weed out the weak and bring in only plants I love that perform really well so this is where I’m coming from

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What’s a PAN FAN you ask? A Pan Fan is a fan of Panicums and I am a big, big fan of my PANicum switch grass ‘Dallas Blues’ this year. He is large and in charge with silver blue foliage and purple blooms that will all turn to gold soon.

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Here he is blooming among the seed heads of perennial sunflower Helianthus Microcephalus.

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Fan that I am, I would like to add more Panicum grasses to my garden perhaps along the Nice Driveway – it would also dance well with Solidago.

As you can probably tell, I am still very much in love with my garden. She needs a little work but she always, always gives me joy and beauty. There’s pleasure in that.


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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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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!