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


Going Native: Swamp Rose

I planted a Swamp Rose, Rosa palustris, last spring of 2010 along the bed that parallels my potager. It is planted in an area that receives full sun. The soil is clay but is very wet in spring and after heavy rains. It is considered a shrub rose and should grow to be about 6-8′ tall. It’s habit is upright with bushy-branched, thorny stems. In just one year it has bloomed!

I have never grown roses before and figured it would be good to begin with wild roses, although I don’t do anything for this rose. I am amazed at its growth in spite of my neglect. I have some suckering shoots that I may try to transplant in other areas of my garden to see how it does. I prefer the open blooms of wild roses and I felt that my garden would not be complete without a rose, or two, or maybe three … They smell good, really good.

There’s lots of insect activity. In the evening the petals close up. This morning I witnessed an impatient bumble bee force open the closed petals to get inside. This rose should also produce hips which I will leave to overwinter for the birds, and because their bright red color will be pretty dusted with snow. Oh, did I mention the leaves turn a brilliant red in the fall? I am very happy with this native addition to my garden – you might be, too.