Fire And Ice

Just before we roll ourselves into the month of March and the soon to follow, spring season, we are preparing an end of winter event. If you are looking for an outing that combines both fire and ice…we’ll be offering this gathering on Saturday, February 29th, on pristine Lake St. George.
Only two spots left!
Mid Winter Brunch On Lake St. George
Drive out any winter doldrums and Join us on Saturday, February 29th at 10:30 a.m. for a catered brunch featuring hand crafted cocktails, select appetizers, and a hearty fire- cooked meal ( coffee and hot cider, too!). Stay cozy in the wood heated wilderness tent or sip your cocktail by the campfire. Our ice fishing traps will be set and coals will be hot! Don’t miss the food and fun! Where? Lake St.
George state park. Cost? $25.00 Interested? Contact us here:
fernwoodnursey@fairpoint.net

Home Construction

As you can see, sometimes we may need a little prompt and some descriptive words to indicate that we have found the right place to build our home. I came across this wasp nest while walking through the woods on Christmas morning. The queen, who selects and begins construction on the swarm’s dwelling, could apparently read and found a “super spot’ for her home and nest. Was it the colors on the can? Was it the in-place tin roof? Was she just looking for something different? Who knows?
No doubt the can was left years ago by a woodsman who was out marking trees to be harvested. Evidence of human activity in the forest merging with the creatures who make their home there. That old oil can lent structure to the intricate and time consuming (and wondrous) construction efforts of the wasps. Yes, wondrous it is.

Christmas Cards

Growing up, as soon as the Christmas cards started showing up in the mailbox, my Mom, after opening them, would tape each and every one along the door trim of our dining area. For the next month, and possibly well into January, there would be a mural on the wall of angels and Christmas trees and giant snowflakes and scenes of snow covered landscapes. And, let us not forget, the cards with flying reindeer, and Santa, and the well dressed snowman with a corncob pipe and a button nose. As a child, I remember peering into the cards as they stuck half-open on the wall and reading (over and over again) the verses and greetings in each one. My sister and brother and I could stand across the room, point to a card and without looking, tell you who the sender was. There were cards from family, friends, my Dad’s work buddies, distant relatives, and even a ‘Christmas Appreciation and Thank You’ card from our little local grocery store, G & J Market.
My Mom sent cards as well and often during the month of December our kitchen table was a sea of envelopes, card boxes, stamps, and address lists. She always bought the assortment box of cards with the clear lid so you could see one example of what you were getting. She shopped at Woolworths for her greeting cards (remember Woolworths?) and if we were lucky and being that we were in the midst of cheery Christmas spirit and all, chances were good that we would have a lunch of grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup ( Campbell’s) at the Woolworth lunch counter. The best! Of course, after Christmas all the boxed cards went on sale and my frugal mom would buy up several boxes. Often, however, they would get stored away and forgotten and we’d end up buying a new assortment just before the holiday the following year. Don’t worry Mom, this is happening to me now! Oh well.
Christmas cards and connecting with folks far and near is a way we can all send a small acknowledgement, a gift of words and a gift of graphics, from our homes and hearts. I truly swoon over Christmas cards and I send many, but I also keep some and simply place them around the house to enjoy the artwork. A small price to pay for art, heh? The growing season here at Fernwood is a busy time that doesn’t leave much opportunity for card sending. Right now, just like the maple dining set in my childhood home, my table is scattered with cards awaiting a few sentences, a wish for holiday cheer and blessings into the New Year.
Tis, the season for such things and it is a Christmas tradition that I can happily partake in! Well, off I go with pen, cards, envelopes, and stamps before the post office closes! Happy Holidays Friends!

The Things We Need, Or Don’t

So very true! We have never been what some may consider “shoppers”.
In fact, I personally dread going into town. During the holidays, it would be very much out of our character to gear up and take part in ‘Black Friday’ or to cruise the internet for ‘Cyber Tuesday’. December is a month for slowing down, for taking long hikes into the woods, for enjoying lengthy chats over tea, for a nightly game of cribbage. It is also, in fairness, the month we will actually send out a few gifts to our family…books for the grandchildren, some nice flannel sheets to the grown up kids, a requested kitchen tool for our daughter in-law. The other parcels will be hand-made…wool socks, baked goodies, linen napkins, hand-crafted tea blends and spice rubs, ointments and salves to keep dry wintry hands and lips soft and moisturized. Every year, because my kids are good and thoughtful kiddos, they ask me what I would like for Christmas. I never have a ‘thing’ I want. More importantly, I want time. I want an experience. I would like memories with them and our grand children to place lovingly on the timeline that seems to be collecting behind me. So, Noah, if you are reading this, here is what I would like from you for Christmas. I would like a whole day with just the two of us ice fishing on some far-reaching pond or lake. I want to make a fire out on the ice so we can cook up a stew and some biscuits and the fish we catch and then linger over it warming our hands and just being so happy to be in one another’s company. O.K? And, Daughter, from you I would like a day in the kitchen with a collection of good chocolate and heavy cream and fresh herbs and spices and any other yummy ingredients we can collect and then throw in to making a scrumptious meal. We’ll whip up some fantastic food and try new recipes and do a lot of taste testing and wear our favorite aprons and we’ll linger over conversation and we’ll laugh and laugh and laugh and take turns putting on our favorite music C.D.’s (which will mostly be your c.d.’s because that is how it rolls with you and music, but I won’t care and will be content listening to your selections). That’s what I want for Christmas from you Zoe, O.K.? And, Daughter in-law, just keep sending me pictures of those two amazing grandchildren and keep calling me to tell me of what new development has occurred or what funny thing Violet has said, or how Zeb continues to look out at the world with a perpetual smile on his face. And call me just to chat and catch up and count on me when you want to have an adult conversation about politics, or velvet furniture, or travel, or any other topic that doesn’t include laundry and sippy cups and lost 2T footwear. You are important and dear to me and I love how our relationship is growing and finding meaning all on its own. And, just so you know, your natural ability to being an absolutely fantastic mother and me bearing witness to this, is a gift every day.
True words, the older I get, the less I want or need in the way of ‘things’. However, for the record, if a bicycle powered washing machine showed up under our Christmas tree , I wouldn’t turn my my nose up at it. ( Noah, my faithful fabricator of all things?).

Happy Thanksgiving!

A small gathering of family and friends today. Quite possibly the smallest number of guests we have ever had. That’s OK, once I got over the shock and readjustment of not feeding a village, I settled into the idea of a more casual affair. It still meant 4 different kinds of pie ( it would be wrong not to have pumpkin, pecan, apple, and chocolate creme all represented, right?). It still meant heaping, though perhaps slightly less heaping, bowls of steamed turnip, mashed potatoes, and carrots. One can’t get by without roasting brussel sprouts (with a little pancetta and shallots and garlic, of course) and winter squash and beets from the garden. If I wasn’t bullied into making ( my own healthy version) of green bean casserole I am certain the numbers at the table next year would decline even more. And then there is the turkey. A smaller fowl this year but the traditional meat option won out. But, seeing that I am cruising through the lighter dinner menu with time on my hands ( for knitting, for reading, for relaxing…imagine that! Brilliant, I say!) I decided to bone out the turkey this year, cook all the parts separately, and stuff the breast with some yummy morsels…mushrooms, sausage, shallots, garlic, and Swiss chard. I’ll wrap the entire breast (I left the skin on) with some of our maple cured bacon and then place it in the oven for roasting. Ta-da! Here is the real kicker, we don’t have T.V but we do have an old screen and DVD player upstairs, so guess how we plan to spend our afternoon after stuffing ourselves with turkey, stuffing, and pie? We’re going to watch a movie! All of us lined up on the couch and in comfy chairs, perhaps a glass of cider or wine in hand, and indulge in a flick! So what did we choose? Our neighbor Jack ( who has no screen or DVD player) made the request based on his admiration for Meryl Streep.
So the Thanksgiving film is: The Laundromat. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wuBRcfe4bSo
How about that for a Thanksgiving change? Less but also more!
Hope you all enjoy the day, find thanks in the bounty and delight of life, family, friends, and apple pie! Happy Thanksgiving!

Back!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Where did I go? To Romania and then to Ireland. Then, I’m afraid the work which was put on the back burner while I was dashing around visiting other countries became urgent and I am just now picking my head up and returning to blogging. Oh, where to start! My plan is to write a really long piece about my trip to Romania. It was so beyond my expectations and I learned so much about their history and became so enchanted with their farming practices. I am still processing all that I experienced, the interactions I had with farmers and craftsman, and the incredible beauty of the Romanian landscape. Those Carpathian mountains! The region of Transylvania! The old world architecture in the cities and the beautiful workmanship I witnessed in every little village! 20% of Romania’s agricultural area is considered subsistence farming. It is a country that still makes use of traditional and grassroots farming practices. Stunning, every bit was stunning. So, now with winter fast on our heels, I am hoping my days will allow some time to reflect and to write about my journey. Stay tuned will you? And, apologies for my sudden absence.
Here at home, the firewood is all in, the hay is put away in the loft, the freezers are full, and the nursery rows are tucked in for their winter slumber. Whew! A list of off season projects await our attention, some repairs around the house, a new outdoor summer kitchen (we built an outdoor wood fired bread oven!), and, of course, some crafting.
Thank you for checking in and continuing to read news and stories from Fernwood. I suppose there are just times we have to step away from the screen and give our cyper input a rest. Because the nursery and farm world at Fernwood so often involves physical engagement, I think switching my brain over to work on the computer can be challenging. I have had my rest, now back to it!
Stay tuned and it’s nice to be back! Happy fall, all!

Travel

Cimicifuga ‘James Compton’ still looking magnificent

The nursery is still humming along. We stay open with regular hours for the remainder of September ( Fall is an excellent time to plant!) and then we will open the doors by appointment through October if there are some last minute plants you long for. Check our email or contact if you’d like to make arrangements in October. Rick will be here holding place while I travel to Romania to visit sheep farmers and blacksmiths and cheese makers. Exciting, exciting!! Then I will stop in Ireland on the way home and spend a week at the farm helping my friend Sally with whatever projects she has in store. I’ll visit with my dear Irish friends, which I am so looking forward to!
Stay tuned for adventure updates and photos and Happy Fall to all of you!

The Time For Seeds

Picture 109Picture 104In the spring we enjoy the wonderful blooms of the woodland peonies. In the fall, we are amazed by the brilliance of their seeds and seed pods. As we collect seed from the many woodland plants we grow here at Fernwood, we find the diversity of color and texture of the seeds to be quite remarkable, each plant having its own design. Nature……truly amazing and always full of wonder.Picture 137Picture 147Picture 151

Some Poop On Soil

Picture 1062Throughout the summer we are asked about the soil here at the nursery. People look into the display beds or the vegetable gardens and will often have many questions about what we do to improve or condition the soil. First, we don’t really consider what we add to the soil as improving it ( yes, it actually is), but instead we like to think of it as ‘feeding the soil’. It’s a living thing……it needs feeding. We grow soil like we grow plants. We nurture it. We study it. We think about what it needs, and then we give it what it wants……poop, compost, rotted leaves, grass clippings, some seaweed, and any other helpful organic matter we can get our hands on. Because we have sheep, chickens, pigs, and once a diary cow, we have access to a lot of manure. This is helpful but not completely neccessary for soil enrichment. Since we raise the critters that we do, we are happy to have the benefit of animal manure. In addition, we also generate and use other forms of soil amendments, such as kitchen compost, grass, and leaves. We never really test the soil, and when people ask about this, we tell them about our approach to the soils needs and fertility. We pay attention to the weeds that are popping up. This can often be an indicator of the soil chemistry. For example, sorrel can often mean that your soil may be somewhat waterlogged or poorly drained, and acidic or low in lime. We do a bit of leaf analysis. Leaf color and overall vitality of the plant helps us to consider the soils fertility and what it may need to support the green growth above it. We smell the soil, we feel the soil…….and after years of being rather intimate with these things, you begin to understand and interpret the soil and its needs quite successfully, without ever having to do a soil test. Our very best advice is, if you want to grow good plants, start by growing good soil. Here at the nursery, we have stock piles of soil ‘food’ ( I consider these piles gold mines). We make great effort to utilize all the animal manures and vegetative material that is generated here at the farm. This has made a terrific difference in the health and fertility of our soil. I must admit, that I can get just as excited about sifting my fingers through the soil of a freshly turned bed in the spring, as I do picking that first sun ripened, fat and juicy tomato later in the season. We welcome the questions people have about soil and soil conditions. We do not claim to be experts in the field of soil, but we do feel that our gardens are an example of some things we may be doing right. Rick loves to talk about the native plants we grow and sell, and he has a firm handle on the soil conditions each plant prefers. I just love talking about soil, and I am glutton for any organic material that we can accumulate to feed the soil with. A pile of rotted leaves or a truck load of seaweed can be a very nice birthday gift. So, get to know your soil. Pay attention to the weeds and existing vegetation. Check out the soil color and its texture. Consider the soil fauna…..how many different bugs and worms do you find? Dig up a plant and examine its roots health and structure. Become your gardens own soil steward.
And feed your soil the things it needs to support the plants you grow. It will make all the difference!

Best Specialty Nursery – 2019

We love what we do here at Fernwood Nursery, truly. And now it seems that some others do as well! We are delighted to have been included in Down East Magazine’s Best of Maine 2019 listing as the Best Specialty Nursery. The results are published in the July magazine, available on newsstands near you.

Many thanks to those who voted to include us in the listing. We are also deeply grateful to our customers, those who visit for the first time and those who return, year after year. It’s so gratifying to build relationships over the years with fellow garden and nature lovers. When you return to the nursery each year it’s like having old friends visit.

So from our “pretty little nursery in the woods” to you, happy summer!

philipp2 sized

Ladyslipper – Cypripedium Phillip