The Violet Fern

A Colorful Tale of a Garden in the Making


What’s Blooming: Hocus Pocus Crocus

Wow, a few warm days, a little sun and “hocus pocus” we have Crocus! It’s magic. This morning the sun is gone and fog has drizzled in.


Persistent Daffodils, now growing a couple of inches a day, force their way through Winter’s whipped grasses.


Fire and fog

The Crocus are drenched in dew and not even open – in anticipation of the snow in today’s forecast? But still their blooms exclaim and dot the garden. Maybe Mr. Rabbit and I are reaching an understanding as these have yet to be eaten.




I just commented on Donna’s garden at Gardens Eye View – she has so much blooming and is not that far from me geographically – and now I must eat my words as I, too, have more going on than I thought! Glory of the Snow, Chionodoxa luciliae is blooming throughout the garden even in places where I’ve yet to clean up.


Glory of the Snow or Glory of the Obedient Stalks?

I cleaned up the Potager first so I could plant at every opportunity (the peas are finally sown!), but I haven’t cleaned up much else of the garden as it is water logged. Let’s just say the ground squishes beneath the garden clogs. I managed to get to this small area of the Woodland Edge yesterday before more rain because the Nodding Onions are poking their way through and upon closer inspection, (please ignore the Creeping Charlie) Scilla siberica ‘Spring Beauty.’



To my surprise my Daffodils have blooms(!) though they are still under wrap. They grow right before my eyes – inches a day. I swear they were just tiny nubs last I looked!


Daffodils beneath the monster Forsythia


Daffodil blooms still tightly under wrap

I should really map my bulbs as I have a few things coming up that I am not sure of. This may be a Woodland Tulip.


I am surprised to see tulips emerging. I’m not sure what variety this is.


Out front the first of the Reticulated Iris blooms right through the Russian Sage.


Last Fall I finally planted some Snowdrops and thought oh, I will look for those right away! But I could not predict last December’s ice storm and the glacial drifts that burdened the garden. This poor Snowdrop looks crushed! I hope it forms a nice clump one day.


I am anticipating the first Service Berry, Amelanchier laevis blooms. They look ready.


I will be so deflated if it snows and sticks after this morning’s walk (no socks!) through the gardens and the sight of all these happenings on Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day. Another gracious thank you to Carol of May Dreams Gardens for hosting.


What’s Growing: Purple Majesty Millet

It’s been warm and sunny here for the past few days and I have finally been out in the garden! I needed to clean up the Potager a bit since I didn’t last Fall – for shame! I always clean up in the Fall and pile the beds high with compost to work itself in over the Winter. You can bet this Fall I won’t repeat this bad behavior. I wanted to especially clean up where I want to plant the peas on one of the rustic obelisks – which I still haven’t sown. It is awfully late but then again Spring was late this year and I am waiting for a “fruit day” which will be this Thursday. Tomorrow is a “flower day” which would also work and the sooner I get those peas sown the better. Those peas like to grow up cold! (Me, not so much.) When I speak of fruit or flower (or root or leaf) days, I am referring to biodynamics. I have always purchased Stella Natura‘s Biodynamic calendar but this year went modern with a phone app – Bio Calendar although it is on Pacific Time and doesn’t contain all the beautiful extras of Stella’s calendar – I admit I miss it. There is much more to the biodynamic approach than flower days but I still enjoy planting this way. Anyway, clean up went better than expected.


Fully expected were the mushy potatoes that I never harvested from my hoop last year – what a waste. I am not allowing myself to grow potatoes this year as punishment and the hoop has been dismantled and the nice dark dirt redistributed. The ground by the shed is still quite soggy so I stopped about three quarters of the way through. I managed to move one of the rustic obelisks to a new spot on the other side of the rustic arbor – I have them staked into the ground due to our high winds – but the ground is so mucky that the stakes came out pretty easily. On this one I am going to grow cucamelons, or Mexican sour gherkins. I am really excited to try this new (to me) plant! I never have much luck with cucumbers probably because I tend to plant them too cold/early – although according to the National Garden Bureau it is the year of the cucumber. The nearby Amish always have a good supply of those nice pickling cukes which we end up buying anyway, so onto something new. My space is valuable and I am upping the rent each year.

Coming up in the Potager already are horseradish and garlic. Another thing I failed to do this past Fall is to dig up all my horseradish. I am certain I will also regret this as horseradish likes to spread. I read somewhere it is good practice to dig it all up every Fall and then plant only a few little roots for the next year. This is something I have always done and it has kept it contained quite well in my garden – especially important since I (stupidly) planted the asparagus right next to it. Shame on me again! I am a little worried about the garlic. The soil is very wet and soggy – due to the massive amount of snow and ice melt this year - but the shoots seem to be greening up and for all I know we’ll have drought conditions next month!



Garlic shoots

Garlic shoots

Indoors, I have started some seeds. I am also off to a slow start on this project but it is due to the weather and well another project that led to another project. I think I have time. This year, I felt so organized – notice the past tense. I had my perfect spot picked out for starting seeds this year – NOT over the other half of the kitchen table since that didn’t work out too well whenever we had company last Spring. I picked our spare room and brought up a shelf from our cellar that we were not using efficiently – because I needed more light for more seeds this year – ha ha. But then we decided we had to finish painting our upstairs floors. And then, since we emptied the spare room, we decided we should paint the ceiling, walls and trim while it was emptied. You know how those projects go …


The painting project that goes on and on and on …

So, this spot is out because I needed to get started planting! And so, where else but to set up but in the most crowded room of our house – my office/studio. Just when you think you couldn’t possibly have room for one more thing … hey, just like gardening! And so I successfully managed to fit the shelving and the lights and all into my small studio/office space. Nevermind that at the end of May I am participating in our local Artist Studio Tour … hopefully, the seeds will be in the hardening off stage by then.


Overcrowded studio/office seed set up

Planting tomato, pepper and eggplant seeds on a fruit day.

Planting tomato, pepper and eggplant seeds on a fruit day.

Any old shop light will do.

Any old shop light will do.

I love this set up! It would be ideal if the shelves were 4 ft long to match the length of the lights but I made do with what I had. I simply hung each light above each shelf. My husband ordered some large trays (seen stacked against the shelf in the overcrowded shot) – I believe from Uline – that he isn’t using anymore and they make perfect plant trays! I am very happy with the Jiffy seed starters (and save mine and bought the pellet refills this year). You could mimic the seed starters by recycling salad containers but be sure to use a seed starting mix. I have used coconut coir seed starting mix and paper towel rolls in the past. You will need an additional light source if starting seeds – any old shop light will do – trust me I learned this the hard way. I use plant bulbs. Once the plants have germinated I remove the covers to minimize any damping off,  and use a small fan set on low to encourage strong stems.  A system like this has greatly improved my seed starts and this year I am trying some new things – more annuals. I am excited to try Passion Flower, Corkscrew vine Vigna cracalla (a mere five seeds per pack!), and this Purple Majesty Millet (although its blades don’t look very purple yet) which has just germinated!


This year I am going to try my hand at making paper pots when I need to pot up – especially for that Millet since the packet warns against starting it root bound.

I am so thrilled that the growing season has begun! What new and exciting things are you growing this year?


Tip Toe Round the Tulip Tree

Once again I am joining Loose and Leafy for Follow A Tree. Not much has changed with my Tulip Tree over this past month – the buds are not unfurling into the beautiful leaves I imagined opening already. The warm sunshine I imagined didn’t happen either, but the snow has finally melted all around it! You may see a few patches in the background but last month this was all snow.


Finally. It was 50 degrees today! And now my dog’s toilet garden is a soggy mess. I spent the day outside tip toeing around my little Tulip Tree, admiring the bird song and picking up pounds of dog poop branches. I was finally able to move the large branch that fell from my neighbor’s Silver Maple during the ice storm in December 2013 -  that thankfully missed falling on the Tulip Tree. I contemplate that one day I will be picking up branches from the Tulip Tree come Spring as they are known to drop a few during winds and storms.


The leader is proud and nearly as tall as our 6′ fence. I should measure its height as I think this is the year it will leap! It is currently 57 inches tall.

tulip tree buds

I still cannot seem to get a good capture of the buds – too much movement and background. I tried to hold a branch in my hand and still work the camera with the other – I am not that coordinated.


Things will begin happening fast now that we have warmer weather. It was nice this morning but is raining now – good for the Tulip Tree. I will hold on to the image of what I am calling a sunshine Crocus I spotted out front. I noticed a few more around the Pin Oak. Blooms! Buds have to follow suit.


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