The Violet Fern

Creating Art & Gardens


15 Comments

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.

Untitled

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.

Untitled

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.

Untitled

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

Untitled

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.

Untitled

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.

Untitled

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

Untitled

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

Untitled

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

Untitled

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.

Untitled

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.

Untitled

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.

Untitled

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!

Untitled

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.

Untitled

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

Untitled

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

Untitled

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

Untitled

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.

Untitled

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

Untitled

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.


17 Comments

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 …

image

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!

image

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!)

image

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.

image

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.

image

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.

image

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.

image

Persicaria Firetail still on fire among the yellowing leaves of Amsonias.

image

image

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).

image

image

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!

image

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!

image

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.

image

Lemon Tagetes still blooming.

image

Now’s the time to eat this Chard!

image

Borage, Calendula, Nasturtium – the staple of the flowers in my Potager.

image

One of my favorite Nasturtiums ‘Moonlight’ from Renee’s Garden.

image

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.

image

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!

image

Speaking of reseeders, Granpa Otts Morning Glory is still quite glorious!

image

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.

image

image

image

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.

image

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.

image

image

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.

image

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?

image

Heuchera ‘Pinot Blanco’ still blooming among a few yes, self seeded Calendulas, and a fading ‘Quickfire’ Hydrangea.

image

image

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.

image

I was captivated by these furry tails of Liatris!

image

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.

image

image

image

image

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.

image

image

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.

image

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.

image


14 Comments

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

pin oak

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.

spicebush

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

pagoda dogwood blooms

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!