The Violet Fern

Creating Art & Gardens


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What’s Blooming: Summer Nights

A little late to the game but it’s July and peak bloom season for most everyone in the Northeast, but I would say my garden peaks in Autumn with Joe (Pye) and Susan (Black-eyed) getting it on. They are showing signs of love, but here’s what’s blooming right now in the Violet Fern Garden during Garden Blogger’s Bloom Days hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens.

A rare look from above on the Bird & Butterfly and Woodland Gardens. As you can see, I have a jungle on my hands.

Stepping a little over to the right and you can see the swell of grass path where I plan to put in a small pond. You can also catch a glimpse of the Potager just beyond the garage/workshop.
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Every now and then I try to stand back from the flower close-ups so you get a better feel for the jungle, ah hem, I mean garden. Summer Nights have seeded themselves prolifically in the Bird & Butterfly and Nice Driveway gardens. I under appreciate this plant. It is beautiful with dark burgundy stems and that yellow that sometimes flushes orange from the center “cones” that go through various stages of forms from tightly woven dark burgundy to puffy orange polka dots. The bees seem to love it in every stage. That is the yellow you see in the above shots (taken from the roof of my back porch). The White is Shasta Daisy, the red Bee Balm.

 A Rudbeckia Maxima, Giant Cone snuck in here!

Summer Nights along the Nice Driveway along with Arborvitae, Ninebark, and Cranberry Viburnum and just a glimpse of Bee Balm.

Bee Balm is also in its glory. I have a red in the Bird & Butterfly Garden and also along the Nice Driveway. Untitled Untitled

I have a pink variety of Bee Balm out front mixed with Purple Cones and Verbascum right now.  Much is happening out front but I don’t go there often, preferring the privacy in our back garden. I love Sea Holly now blooming and think I will try to incorporate a larger variety in the Bird & Butterfly garden.

Butterfly Weed is about to burst into bloom.

Russian Sage blooms shrub size. As you can see behind that Black Lace has recovered, once again, from our harsh winter with a vengeance. It even bloomed this year.

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Black Lace flower

The Honeysuckle is in full swing along the left side of our front porch which we are finally beginning to scrape and paint. I am excited to have the front porch shaped up a bit. It is a beautiful porch and it’s a shame we don’t sit on it more often. We are going to use deck repair paint in Hedgerow green. I can’t wait to get rid of the cold, battleship grey – not that there’s much of it left. The Grapevines that climb along the right side of our porch believe it or not, were pruned early on. With the shrubs and trees now filling in and offering a bit more privacy along with the vines and a new paint job, I believe I will sit out here more often.

Looking out the front door to the crabapples out front. Grapevines cover the trellis work to the right.

Front porch with tongue and groove scraped and ready to be repainted. I think the new green color will be a nice lead way to the garden beyond. Crabapple, and honeysuckle to the left.

I had an Autumn Clematis mixed in here with the honeysuckle and I thought it had died last year but whoops, there it is making a comeback.

 Also exciting, my hardy kiwi vine is finally reaching the trellis on the left back side of the front porch which will be replaced with welded wire very soon. (You can see that we need to paint very badly and the trellis panel is shot.)  Last year I also thought New Jersey Tea had died but I think it has finally settled in next to the honeysuckle. It has the most blooms it’s ever had this year. UntitledOn the back porch Passion Flower Betty Miles Young is growing nicely. She blooms continuously. This year we should also have our back porch sided with real siding! We are choosing a plastic cedar shake shingle style – maintenance free so there’s more time to garden – in a warm color that harmonizes with the stucco.

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Yes, I see and enjoy the Passion flower blooms from a seat inside the window.

  On the copper tripod (fancy bird perch) set in a whiskey/wine barrel, Grandpa Ott’s Morning Glory and, so excited, Gloriosa Lilies bloom. The Corkscrew Vine is growing nicely here as well, but no blooms yet. Lime Nicotiana and Love in a Mist reseeded themselves here, too.

Morning Glory, Grandpa Ott’s

Gloriosa Lily bloom

Lime Nicotiana

Love in a Mist, Persian Violet Nigella

In the fiberglass pot made to look like faux bark where the water catches from my rain chain, a water lily blooms. Untitled

The Woodland Edge is alive with blooms, too, some of my favorites like Queen of the Prairie. It is also being devoured by bindweed which I will attack tomorrow on my one day (not enough) in my garden.

Ligularia ‘The Rocket’

Culver’s Root with bamboo stakes to keep from flopping (ha!) and Meadow Rue, Thalictrum, in the background.

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Queen of the Prairie, Filipendula rubra

More Queen of the Prairie with Persicaria Firetail

Trumpet Vine blooms on the arbor to the Potager. Calendula and Borage continue to take over the Potager. Moonlight Nasturtium and Chamomile also bloom. I think I have more flowers than vegetables in the Potager now. Untitled

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Borage

Finally we come round to Hosta Row where Heuchera and Hydrangea Quickfire are in bloom. An unknown flower blooms here, too – perhaps a wild phlox? Anyone? And lastly, Snowball Hydrangea heavy with blooms. That’s hops growing up to the left. I can barely pass through here anymore.

Did I say I think my garden peaks in Autumn?


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What’s Blooming: Sage is the Rage

My husband turned to me last evening and said “frost warning.” WHAT?! I am definitely not ready for THAT – not ready at all. I shrugged it off – it was a warning on his cell phone. We live close to the river. Though, I must admit the first thing I did this morning was check the temperature on my cell phone: 46° F, whew! So, let’s celebrate another Garden Bloggers Bloom Day while we can, eh? I credit Carol at May Dreams Gardens on the 15th of each month for making me stop to smell the flowers so to speak.

Last year around this time I remember thinking my Helianthus Microcephalus was declining – not so. This year it is bigger and badder than ever and full of bumbles. A little floppy with recent rain.

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Last year around this time I remember thinking to myself I will divide those Black Eyed Susans – not so, never happened. Believe it or not my husband dragged a ladder through here to finally patch the hole near the roof of our garage/workshop the Starlings were kind enough to point out to us one Spring, and to clean out the gutters. He patched not one, but two holes. I’m thinking we should maybe patch a few things with impenetrable Black Eyed Susans.

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Another patch that needs my DIvided attention, is Obedient Plant along the nice driveway. Last year it flopped over and this year is a repeat performance. The bees don’t mind as much as I do.

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Indian Grass, in contrast, stands tall. I love the spikelets (a new word I just taught myself which refers to the flower clusters on grass florets) on this grass!

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And surprise! The False Sunflower given to me by a friend last fall is now blooming. I didn’t think it made it as it is on the edge of the Nice Driveway which receives the brutal brunt of the weather. It’s not attracting bumbles right now but a different kind of insect.

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Another bumble friendly plant this time of year that I don’t give enough credit to, is Garlic Chives now blooming in the Potager.

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Also in the Potager, Lemon Gem Tagetes. I was supposed to eat more of these (and those garlic chives now that I think of it)! I think they also help keep Mosquitos away.

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Leaving the Potager and strolling down the yet unfinished Hosta Row, Heuchera ‘Pinot Blanco’ is blooming again! Have to love Pinot!

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Hydrangea Quickfire’s beginning to burn – the creamy blooms now turning a burnished pink.

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Which will bring us to the Nice Driveway again and my container of Pineapple Sage and lime – Nicotiana and Zinnia. I used to grow Pineapple Sage in Maine and marveled at how large it became for an annual – shrub size. Then just before frost its tips catch fire with fiery red blooms that no hummingbird can resist! I snatched it up immediately when I saw it at our local nursery. I enjoy watching the hummingbirds hover around this container just as I imagined when I dragged it up from the bottom of our driveway to dress up our sea of pavement.

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We’ll continue on to the Riverfront which is showing signs of my neglect. Still, Russian Sage impresses with a backdrop of Black Lace. Black Lace made an amazing comeback this year after our last harsh Winter. And no, I have not cut back the dieback yet. Someday, someday …

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I hate to be reminded of our last Winter but hear that this Winter will also be quite severe. There are signs also that what I hear is true – fruit. Lots of food.

The Purple Prince Crabapples out front are loaded.

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I thought this was a crabapple tree also planted out front, but now I’m beginning to wonder. These are some pretty large crabapples and there are lots of them.

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The grapes on our front porch are dripping and just beginning to form. I love when the leaves yellow and the dark berries burst.

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The Cranberry Viburnum is also loaded up. Really spectacular this year.

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Next month there will be less blooming but it will be ALL about foliage! The Kopper King Hibiscus is just starting to show off and with that I’ll leave those of you who pine for Fall in the Northeast, anticipating …

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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.