To The Watering Hole

Picture 3470There’s a heap of green beans ready to blanch and freeze. Also, a forest of broccoli and waves of swiss chard to harvest and preserve.The tomatoes are threatening to ripen in great numbers and all at once…slicers, cherries, and pastes. The kitchen is about to see a lot of action. Heat or no heat, it’s time to can! But by late afternoon today, it was unanimous. It was time to put away the weeding buckets, hang up the harvesting knives, and head for the watering hole. Hip Hip Hooray!!
These next words from the book Clabbered Dirt,Sweet Grass by Gary Paulsen. A farming story….and delightful read.

High summer brings thick heat and there comes a day when dust itches the skin, when the flies and the gnats and the no-see-ums and the thick, humid air and the heat that presses down all build together so that the sweat doesn’t help, shade doesn’t help, and somebody says something about going swimming, just a word, and it becomes the only thing in the world. By the middle of the day work is impossible, everything is impossible but going down to the creek. There is a place, always a place, a special place where the current rounds a bend and goes through a double culvert under the road, and right there, right in that special place the water has dug out a great hollowed pool. Green, green deep to soft brown cool with speckled minnows fleeing from the great splashing monsters who tumble, fall, dive, cannonball from the heavens into the cool clean clear water.
Clothes hanging on the willows, dust hanging on the willows, dirt and grime and work hanging on the willows while the water takes them, takes them all.
The swimming hole.
Picture 3471

A Mid Summer Break

Picture 3026Picture 3036Picture 3063Picture 3032Picture 3060Picture 3045Just about mid-summer I get a call from my friend Sally. She has a little house that overlooks the pier in Stonington and asked me to take a ride up to check on things. “No, too busy”, I said, “Too much weeding, mowing, and transplanting to get away”. Thankfully, she is gloriously persistent about taking time away from all the work we do here and having a little adventure. Decision made…I’ll head to Stonington for an overnight. Rick will go north for a bit of brook fishing. Off we go, a much-needed break to explore and enjoy the beautiful woods and coastline of our great state.

how we roll.....packed up and ready to go in sally's old Morris

how we roll…..packed up and ready to go in sally’s old Morris

You won’t get any photos of Rick catching any monster brook trout. After all, when was the last time there were pictures do go along with the epic fish stories we always listen to…. you know, ‘the one that got away’.The camera went with me up the coastline. No fish or blackfly or campfire photos, but there was lobster and a beautiful view towards Isle Au Haut to capture. A day away, just what we needed.That Sally…she’s so smart! Picture 3077Picture 3089Picture 3095Picture 3111Picture 3130
....time to head back home.

….time to head back home.

Tea and Scones And Talk

Picture 3457On Thursday, July 28th, from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. Fernwood Nursery will be serving tea and scones and offering a free talk on late season planting. Rick will be discussing some tips on plant selection, care, and what to consider when adding new additions to your late summer garden. Come along, enjoy a cup of tea in the garden, and share in an afternoon of ‘plant talk’.

When should I divide my hosta?

hosta talk pictures 2012 012A seasonal post from Rick….
While hostas don’t require dividing like some perennials, quite regularly we are asked: “when is the best time to divide hostas”? The answer will depend on who you ask, what they have been told, or what is easiest for them and their gardening schedule. Some say early spring when the new growth points emerge and you can easily see where to cut between each to make another division. Others say in the fall. While hostas are extremely tough and will survive just about any kind of harsh treatment, I would disagree with these time frames. With over 35 years of experience in propagating hostas, my answer is July and August, and here is my reasoning and observations. Hostas do not put on much in the way of root growth until sometime in June. So a plant division made in early spring is expected to support all of its new growth with last year’s roots and only those that are still attached after it was removed from the main clump. A hosta divided in the late fall may not have enough time to establish enough new roots and store the amount of energy needed to get it through the winter and then support new growth in the spring. While both will probably survive, they won’t be as robust as those divided in July and August. During these months the plant will have time to put on new roots, add new leaves to store more energy, and set new eyes on the crown for a larger plant in the spring. Some people are afraid to cut a clump apart and break off some of the existing leaves. When we divide them, we purposely remove leaves from the divisions, especially those that may not have that many roots. We also remove all flowers. Some we replant with only one leaf. It is important that leaves and roots be balanced. Best to have fewer leaves so that the roots can support the divided crown. If done this way, and kept watered for the rest of the season, a much stronger plant will emerge in the spring. So if you have the time, and have hostas that you would like to divide, now through August is the time to do it.

Felting Workshop At Fernwood!

ii_1543638107133d97Saturday, July 23rd, noon to 4:00canstockphoto28865455 (2)
Join fiber artists Jessica Peill Meininghaus and Denise Sawyer for an afternoon of felting. Come learn the basic techniques for wet felting wool, then move on to create a beautiful needle felted wool painting! Roam the gardens for inspiration, chat with fellow fiber enthusiasts, and learn a new skill! Materials and supplies included… teas and scones will be served!
If you’d like to join us, email at or call (207) 589-4726
You can check out our ‘classes and more’ page for specifics.ii_1543638155403891


Picture 3353Picture 3359Picture 3341Fernwood is known for its shade-loving perennials. People will often make a special trip to find some of the native and woodland plants we grow. After all, we are ‘Maine’s Shadiest Nursery’. On any given day, a customer may visit the nursery and go home with a gold edged crinkled leaf hosta, a Lobelia cardinalis, and maybe a trillium or two (for an example). We have rows and rows of carefully selected plants to choose from for shade and woodland. Years of work has gone into the selecting and propagation of the plants we grow.
But, I must say, if you look across the nursery towards the vegetable gardens and areas with more open space, you’ll a see a swath of sun-loving non-natives…poppies galore, an army of foxglove, oodles of borage, chamomile, and calendula, patches of delphiniums and dahlias, roses and peonies, not to mention the dill and cilantro and fennel…all of which make their home quite happily right along side the vegetables. Why not? It’s flower love out there! It’s a bouquet picking bonanza! Every day I go and clip a few bunches, large and small, so each room in the house gets their own cheery and often fragrant arrangement. I’ll finish this post by just saying this…..” all these flowers bring me (shade and no shade) so MUCH joy!!! Picture 3397Picture 3365Picture 3399

Oh, For The Love Of Soil

Over the last couple of days, I have been reseeding areas for the next crop succession. This means pulling some of the spent vegetation of earlier crops, like spinach and tatsoi, and replanting it. The very last of the dark green leaves of spinach are harvested, blanched, and tucked away into the deep freeze. Before the next food crop goes in, however, I amend and loosen the soil. Once again, my hands plunge into the dark silky soil. I work my way up the row, turning and sifting, adding a good measure of well-rotted compost and sheep manure. How many times have I heard myself say ” grow good soil, grow good soil”. As I pull that last bunch of tatsoi, I thank our fine rich garden soil, for I know, it has provided the food for our food. It is the basis for all of what we do here. It should be praised accordingly. And don’t I just love the feel of soil…should I even dare mar this perfect canvas of earth? Does it really need a seed or small seedling to make it more beautiful…no, I don’t think so. I know that down below every display of greenery, the soil is there quietly doing its thing. It’s wonderous and amazing life giving thing…oh, for the love of soil!

And to further praise the endearing qualities of soil, here is a poem written by Wendell Berry…

“The soil is the great connector of lives, the source and destination of all. It is the healer and restorer and resurrector, by which disease passes into health, age into youth, death into life. Without proper care for it we can have no community, because without proper care for it we can have no life.”

Let’s Just Stop And Have Ourselves A Piece Of Pie……

Picture 3187We love the gardens here, we spend every day and almost every moment tending to them. Some afternoons, we pick a spot, sit ourselves down among the greenery and flowers…and have ourselves a piece of pie. Ahh, restored!
( This day with our tea loving, pie loving, picture taking friend, Sally)