I sincerely hope I don't get that song in your head, and if I did soon you'll be singing a different one if you read on. I guess I'm hung up on letters at the moment. I am having so much fun with #the100DayProject and my #100Bs that I am throwing in an A and a C! (If you by some fleeting chance have missed out on all the times I've mentioned my 100 day project of 100Bs, follow along on instagram where I post my daily small painting of something beginning with B. Make a request if you'd like!) Read along to see what ABCs are blooming right now in the Violet Fern garden.
ALLIUMS! I am so thrilled with all the Allium bulbs I planted last fall. They really add some pop to the garden at this time and while some are already fading, new varieties are just coming into bloom. They are such an architectural marvel in the garden.
Here, you can see the Allium bouys "floating" along my "river view" garden. I have yet to paint the fish that belong atop the rebar stakes but it is closer to the top of my list. I love sitting here on this patio in the Potager with this "river view" of blue bottles which cast a watery blue hue on the interesting network of plants on the sandy bottom mulched in with pea gravel. I just acquired Dianthus simulans to plant here, too — can't wait!
One of my favorite native plants is also now in bloom, Amsonia, commonly known as Bluestar. I have three different varieties planted together. After the bloom, the Fall show is almost just as stunning as its foliage turns a brilliant yellow. I love the ferny leaf on Amsonia hubrichtii.
Side note: I am not seeing as many bees and butterflies in the garden this year as usual. I am wondering if it has been our rather wet weather and Spring. What are you noticing in your own gardens? If I take a close look at the Ninebark and Cranberry Viburnum blooms, there are plenty of bees but usually more seem to fly around the whole garden. I do notice more mosquitos in the garden this year! Right now I am listening to a Cat Bird sing (not meow), right on time with the ripening of all my strawberries, the blackberries and soon to be blue berries and raspberries. Much more pleasant than the very hungry baby crow.
BAPTISIA never fails to disappoint! It has become very large and in charge in my garden. I think a yellow variety would be nice to fit in some where but I have to stop myself as I am transitioning my energies to the lake property and merely trying to gain a bit of control and order in the Violet Fern garden. This means no more purchases! (Except seeds for veggies). It means native plant purchases only for the lake property. I did plant out some of my volunteer Cranberry Viburnum and trumpet vine at the lake over the weekend. I will feature the lake in a post very soon. I look forward to the "non-gardens" there, meaning I will only be enhancing the landscape with native plants. There won't be any babying, mulching, mowing, weeding, edging, etc. I love its natural state and only seek to add more blooms with a grow-or-not attitude. I came across some white spruce saplings that I also planted with the hopes of attracting more birds and wildlife in the far future. There are many, many birds there but I can never see them through the canopy! That's where identifying bird calls comes in handy. There's certainly no mistaking the call of a loon or whip-poor-will but knowing warblers' by sight and sound can take a lifetime of learning!
I was so taken with the Baptisia blooms that I painted them as a "B."
Black Lace, Sambucus Nigra, is stately this year. The mild winter was kind to her. She is in full bloom now and stunning!
COLUMBINE TIME! I was so thrilled to happen upon our native Columbine right here in my own garden! Then, I remembered vaguely emptying a packet of seeds a year? two years ago? in that section of the garden. I am delighted that one took and will encourage this plant to spread itself around. It is so beautiful and bloomed earlier than my other columbines, early enough to welcome back our hummingbirds of which it is an important nectar source for them early in the season and red in color by divine design.
These frilly Columbines were here when we moved in but have relocated themselves everywhere and painted themselves in differing shades of pink.
This pretty blue/purple Columbine I believe I gleamed from the Clayton Garden Club. It has also moved itself around much to my delight.
Cranesbill geranium is just beginning to open. The bees love this plant. I have some that are more blue, others that are more pink and another with streaks of white in the bloom which I think must be a virus of some kind? If only I had pursued a degree in horticulture instead of the arts. You know, I googled that geranium streaking flower and it turns out it has a name! Splish Splash. I can assure you I have never planted Splish Splash but I have let my geraniums go to seed (their seeds resemble a crane's bill and thus their name), and I'm thinking that is how Splish Splash was born into my garden.
So there you have it, the ABCs of what's blooming. Sing Allium, Baptisia, Columbine!
I continue to paint: Bs, a couple paintings started in Cedar Key that I hope to finish — one that's been on my list awhile, the orchid house in Puerto Vallarta botanical garden, and a colorful and large Grouper — the wooden fish (for the garden). I continue to tend to the garden which translates to ripping out Bindweed daily. My June mantra is weed, weed, weed. My basil and cilantro have refused to germinate thus far but I'm hoping for some results with this warmer weather and a bit of sun. I am able to harvest lettuce, spinach, arugula and strawberries right now among the perennial herbs such as thyme, oregano and mint. The garlic is tall and (knock on wood) so far clear of leek moth which invaded me last year, (of course, planting more alliums adds to the attraction). I do so love to eat fresh from the garden. I planted some Supertunias in the wine barrel this year at the base of morning glories and their wonderful perfume drifts into the house. Summer seems to be settling in. Life is good.
It's close to Garden Bloggers Bloom Day which happens on the 15th of each month, and in which I used to participate religiously but honestly, I am so not a scheduled person. Sure, I like to plan and have a loose set of goals because how else does one get things done? But tell me I have to be somewhere at a certain time and immediately the anxiety level rises. Maybe it's PTSD from working in a cube for so many years? I just don't like to be boxed in. I work along these lines: I need this and this done by this date. Okay! Anyway, I got the urge to capture Spring. There's much happening in the garden in spite of the cold and rain and yes, even snow these past few days. Then I thought, why wait for GBBD? Why not just capture what's blooming in the garden when I feel like it? So, here you have it, what's blooming in the Violet Fern Garden right now.
I have many, many daffodils mostly because nothing eats daffodils. I add some every year and I apologize but I don't keep track of what kind they are, or the names of them, as long as they "naturalize" they are in my shopping cart. I am surprised this year to discover I have some really pretty varieties!
Lungwort or Pulmonaria always pleases. It is one of the first to bloom in Spring and she has been spreading itself around. She's welcome wherever she goes.
Bergenia is blooming! I have been trying her out in different spots because I love this early blooming perennial with its large, lush leaves that also put on a Fall show. She likes this spot if she's blooming for me, yay!
I seem to have lost one of my Hellebores (so now I will need to get another one!), such a shame, but this one is doing well and is still blooming! I finally got around to cutting back her old leaves so now she really is a looker!
The only thing to rival that gorgeous burgundy color on Miss Hellebore would be Miss Pasque Flower. She is moping from all the rain we had but I'm sure she will hold her head up high soon.
Little, polite Lady Jane is also in bloom. One of the few tulip varieties I have that big, fat rabbit doesn't seem to like.
I've been trying to incorporate more native Spring ephemerals into the Violet Fern Garden. Some Dutchman's Breeches from the lake driveway has come back (jump for joy!) but isn't blooming just yet. Shooting star is up but isn't quite blooming yet, either. My mom gave me this beautiful Trillium (along with some Bloodroot which has finished blooming) and it IS blooming! Aren't Mom's awesome? Happy Mother's Day Mom! Can't wait to see you.
There's nothing like blue in the garden to set off those yellow (white, peach, orange) daffodils! And I got it! Brunnera is the bluest of them all. Forget-me-nots are never forgotten and are always enchanting with their tiny, dancing blooms. I love when the bumble bees land on them and sway to the ground.
Virginia Bluebells, a native spring ephemeral, has my heart right now. I planted two plants last year with the hope of having a large drift of them someday and they're both up and looking slightly different from one another. One seems to have lighter green leaves and paler blooms while the other has a little pink in the blooms and deeper green leaves and seems more robust. I have to research and figure that out unless you can provide some insight?
I am reveling in the glory of Spring, grateful to be working in my own garden getting to know her again. The Serviceberry was a show stopper this year but sadly her show does not last very long until the berries. Next, the Dogwoods and Crabapples will be in bloom most likely in time for the Memorial Day Artists' Studio Tour. I hope you'll stop by.
I will be traveling soon but wanted to say thank you to all of you before I hit the road. Although the Thanksgiving holiday is, and always has been, one of my favorites, my husband and I, in our new tradition will be on the road — 81 South to be specific — traffic is light. We leave the day before and stop at my mother's in the Syracuse area, affectionately referred to as Bonnie's B&B, to gather together before we all face winter. Because some of our family is now living a meat-free lifestyle, the Thanksgiving turkey has lost its appeal. We will be ordering Thai this gathering to forgo any additional cooking, but Mom has made a Pumpkin Pie! We will celebrate birthdays, including mine (I'm at "halftime" — yikes!). We will count our blessings. One of my many blessings is you, my readers who have been with me maybe only a short time or maybe since my first rooting on Blogger and I thank you.
My husband and I take our time heading South and will not arrive at our winter rental residence until Dec 3. We will stop in Asheville and celebrate "Food Fest." Asheville has many delicious plant-based restaurant offerings and since my husband and I don't eat out regularly (with the exception of an occasional Friday Wood Boat Brewery pizza here in Clayton which I recommend if you are this way), we tend to gorge ourselves in Asheville eating out enough to make up for the entire year!
We are also making a stop in St. Augustine this year. St. Augustine is the oldest city in our great nation and I look forward to it. It seems to boast many art galleries and many ghost tales. I think I will also make a stop to the Fountain of Youth — can't hurt to call a time out before halftime.
At our final destination in Cedar Key, an hour west of Gainesville, I will set up my temporary painting studio and paint, paint, paint! It is a time of year I look very forward to. The only distractions are nice weather, kayaking the surrounding islands, and the tiki bar. I put down my pruners and my shovel and I pick up the brush. I become so inspired but this year have a long list of paintings I wish to complete going in (because it helps to stay disciplined): an attempt at a dragonfly, a loon painting which I've unsuccessfully attempted before, a heron painting, a pelican, the third in the moth series, an ode to the Monarch butterfly, another Clayton Skinner fishing lure, and a couple in a new series I am planning entitled "oh, the places you'll go." In addition, I have a special commission to work on that I look forward to.
I will also be finalizing some sort of business plan perhaps with a workshop or two, some sort of "event," a private exhibition debut, and a yearly traditional holiday offering. Again, I look so forward to this time because I can breathe and my focus becomes much more narrow. It is a relief!
In the past I have taken a break from all gardening, but this year I have secured a spot in the Cedar Key community garden! It will be interesting. I secured the spot because I want to learn about gardening in this different zone. I look forward to fresh herbs and greens in January! I am also bringing a few more plants down than last year, of course. Right now, my Passionflower is iced in snow as we are in the midst of our first snow storm. I feel so bad for her but I want her to know it's time to go dormant. She will be moved to the cellar before we leave where she will overwinter in relative warmth. She is only hardy to zone 6. I know this will work because she is in her second year! It is so sad to see her beautiful blooms covered in snow. She bloomed right up to the end and still has buds.
Just this past Saturday it was 60°F and this Calendula flower opened.
Today, Monday, it is like this outside and I am grateful to be indoors conversing with you.
The garden has been tucked in, in the knick of time. The Potager beds have been cleaned up and mulched with a thick layer of leaves. Now held in place with extra scrap wood — the first batch was wind blown away — and under snow.
I planted over 100 more bulbs: iris, alliums, and daffodils. There are still some weeds and areas in need of attention throughout the garden, but I did a lot of pruning, and cleaned out the greenhouse where I hope to be offering plants for sale come Spring. I am overwintering two pots in the greenhouse this year as an experiment. This is my beloved Pineapple Sage which finally bloomed when I moved it to the front porch because of its size (this is actually cut back). So now I think it didn't receive enough sun on the back steps. It may survive if its roots can seek water through the bottom of the pot. I believe it is hardy to zone 6 and the greenhouse should shelter it. I'm thinking that the lack of water will also prevent the pots from cracking. Only one way to find out — try it.
All in all, I feel pretty good about the progress I've made in the garden. Now, she is really tucked in under a blanket of snow that I have a feeling will be there until the end of March.
I am truly happy this year to be making my escape. I have been counting down the days "creatively" which you can follow on instagram. This snow storm is reminiscent of Januarys past and I can now truly say I do not miss Winter. Admittingly, at times I would become nostalgic for winter: reading a good book by the fire, snuggling in blankets, mac-n-cheese (cashew) baking in the oven, feeding and watching the winter birds ... but in one day I am reminded of the "real" winter. Our sliding door is iced over with a drift of snow and will not open. The birds are absent — seeking shelter from the storm I'm sure. The few I see look so sad braced against the wind, their feathers ruffling. The driveway is all ice and we have to use our front door to get in and out of the house so there is snow tracked all across the carpet. The wind will not stop howling and you can actually feel it as well as hear it, seeping through every tiny crack in the house. Energy is down, hunger is heightened and it's a safe bet another bottle of wine will be polished off this evening. The winter weather here is distracting. It envelops all, smothering all with a heavy layer of apprehension. A depressing weight ever more omnipresent with the gray skies and dark days. I could try to be positive but all I can think is thank god I'm getting out of here and the tiki bar is open! which I guess, in a way, is positive!
This photo is of painted cookie dough ornaments I created for the TI Arts Center tree entry in the Festival of Trees in conjunction with PAPTIR (Plein Air Painters of the Thousand Islands Region) on display at the TI Museum in Clayton. I plan to recreate these in clay/ceramic with the help of the animated Serena Buchanan (THE potter at the Arts Center) to offer in my gallery in the future. I was nostalgic for sugar cookies which I used to make growing up with my mom and sisters. We would paint them with colored egg wash. I haven't made them in years. I am feeling nostalgic for Christmas this year and will bringing some of it with me down to Florida to decorate. If you would like to make your own cookie dough ornaments, I followed this recipe.
I also managed to decorate this sand barrel that will appear on the streets of Clayton before leaving. I am blessed to be a member of two great, small town communities. Although my husband and I aren't physically present in Clayton for the winter, we try to keep one foot here by donating to local organizations or volunteering in some way. The proceeds from this sand barrel will go towards the Clayton Christmas Parade fund. I love that Clayton "decorates the town" with these barrels that are also useful in keeping sidewalks "walkable" during the snowy winter months.
In the spirit of giving thanks and making merry, my prints, greeting cards, pillows, and totes offered online at thevioletfernartstudioandgarden.com are all marked down 25%. Simply use code FVDJRG when checking out.
I wish you safe travels, friendly gatherings, and the spirit of the season. Thank you so much! The next time I connect with you it will hopefully be from sunny Cedar Key.
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Author Kathy Sturr
In this blog I may write about the garden, flowers, plants, and the garden ... mostly the garden, but also new art and inspiration.