The Violet Fern

Creating Art & Gardens


What’s Blooming: Meltdown

As I walk around the house this morning I remember, it’s Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day, hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens each month. Hmm, do I have anything blooming? The Poinsettia still looks beautiful. Just as fresh as it did in early December but I want to see something different – ditto Christmas Cactus, Paperwhites – compost. My violets were blooming! Ah, but now they aren’t quite. My orchids look better, seem to be adjusting to their new space but not yet sending up any spikes. The Amaryllis Evergreen is growing but not fast enough.

So, I walk outside on the now frozen oozes of mud preface of our January meltdown, with snow in the forecast once again. Around the not blooming garden, I puff in the crisp morning air and register ah ha, but there is blossoming beauty to behold. What do I see? Tanned husks, pale plumes of Miscanthus ‘Morning Light,’ petrified embers of Panicum ‘Dallas Blues’ remarkably standing tall, blossoming in spite of the once heavy snow load.

Morning Light Plumes

Dallas Blues Blooms Jan

Garlic Chive umbrellas alight over evergreen Germander.

Garlic Chive Seeds

Dripping color – rosy red and dark violet prunes of rose hips.

Rose Hips Jan

Spongy pinks and delicious, peachy tones of Heuchera ‘Caramel’ soaking in the sun.

Heuchera 'Caramel' in Jan

A lily pod dripping gold.

Lily Pod

Clusters of veined Maple butterflies resting their wings.

Maple Seeds

A lone Hydrangea Snowball tumbling over a stubborn patch of snow. Can you hear the whistling wind?

Dried Hydrangea Bloom

Winter is knocking again, but I dream of Summer, happy hour in my secret garden spot – my mental meltdown preventative. What will bloom (or will I go boom) come February?




Two In A Dozen For Diana

I am joining Diana of Elephant’s Eye in choosing twelve months of my favorite garden plants. In this month of February, I am feeling “pink love”, dark chocolate, and … Roses! Not a dozen dying red roses in a vase (my Valentine knows to give me live flowers), but roses in the garden. What could be more romantic? I always felt my garden would be incomplete without at least one rose, but ah hem haw, I had never grown roses. I don’t use chemical fertilizers or pesticides or sprays – roses require such things don’t they? No! So, there’s no excuse not to include a rose in this garden of my twelve favorites. I decided on two native, wild roses to add to my garden and I would recommend both to anyone who fears “high maintenance roses” and who likes to garden on the wild side.

I planted a Swamp Rose, Rosa Palustris, along the edge of my Potager where the soil tends to stay moist. This rose has grown substantially in just a few years from bare root. It has put forth suckers but they are easily dug up. Never one to pass up a new plant, I have begun a mini rose hedge/border.

Along my “classic” chain link fence garden feature, I planted a Climbing Prairie Rose, Rosa Setigera. This rose puts that fence to shame as it should be. It grows alongside our new covered back porch so I can really enjoy its fragrance and blooms. Every now and then I redirect the canes to follow the fence line.

Aside from romantic blooms and perfumed summer nights, roses also offer interest in Fall and Winter. Yellow-orange leaves in Fall stand out against darkening skies. In Winter, rosy red hips brighten snow and ice.

Roses are also pollinator friendly and fruit loving birds such as Robins will eat the hips. I know my Leafcutter Bees use the leaves for their nests as evidenced by their nearly perfect, circular cut outs. What’s not to love?

Pin It


Berry Berry Good!

This year I can finally boast a few berries! Berries attract birds and just last evening a male Cardinal stopped by – a rare, but very welcome, occurrence in my young garden – the cover is not yet thick enough for a Cardinal’s liking. Robins are still lingering. Robins actually spend the winters here where there are enough berries and fruit to sustain them. I see them regularly in a nearby state park through the entire winter where there are many dogwoods and chokeberries. (It is the Red-winged Blackbird that announces Spring for me.) The Catbird’s calls were closer than ever this year, and more frequent.

My plan is for my garden to eventually offer a natural Winter feast. See, I hope to be able to migrate along with our feathered friends in the upcoming years. The Winters, though beautiful, are just too long here. My backyard birds will be able to feast on berries and seeds still standing in the garden instead of my feeders while I follow the sun. The progress in the garden looks promising.

The wild grapes were very abundant this year. I have seen migrating flocks of Cedar Waxwings enjoying these in the past.

Wild Grapes

Rosa Palustris Hips
Rosa Setigera Hips
Virginia Creeper Berries

Virginia Creeper will attract fruit eating birds such as Chickadees, Nuthatches, Mockingbirds, Catbirds, Finches, Flycatchers, Tanagers, Swallows, Vireos, Warblers, Woodpeckers, and Thrushes through the Winter.

Redosier Dogwood Berries
Cardinal Dogwood Berries
Cardinal Dogwood Berries
Elderberry Black Lace

Woodpeckers, Bluebirds, Cedar Waxwings, Orioles, and Grosbeaks are attracted to Elderberries.

Purple Prince Crabapple

Many birds enjoy Crabapple. So birds, enjoy the berry feast while I feast on, ah, hmm, er … a bird of a different feather.

I am always thankful for the joy, work, clarity, groundedness, peace, harmony, abundance and enlightenment of the garden and life. Happy Thanksgiving.