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

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?).

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


Due to feeling a little like Piglet in the episode of Winnie The Pooh where his house floats away because of the continuous rain, we will be opening for the season on Wednesday, May 8th. Our hours will still be Wednesday through Sunday, closed Mondays and Tuesdays. We are seeing lots of green shoots and swelling buds and even blooms from the ephemerals, but the ground is so squishy, saturated from the rain! I dare not complain, however, who knows what the upcoming season may bring in the way of drought. Here in the northeast, as many of you know, July and August have been terribly dry over the last three years. I am thankful that the groundwater is being amply replenished at the moment!
So, outdoors I go to fill the sales area with horticultural goodies and to continue potting up plants from the stock area. Even though our wardrobe staple consists of rain pants and rubber boots, we are so excited for the new growing season! Spring! We’ll welcome her every way we can!
Here are a few plants waiting for their spot in the nursery and a few that are already blooming in the gardens…

Trillium grandiflorum flora plena

Salix boydii

Saxifraga cotyledon

Cardamine glandulosa

Eranthis hyemalis

Helleborous thibetanus

A Beautiful Day In March

What a delightful day! Warm and sunny and the ground squishy and oozy with mud. We walk across the strategically placed planks along the ground to duck into the greenhouse as early in the day as possible. Decadent warmth! Our bones are so happy to have heat from the sun! Aah! We so appreciate our dutiful woodstoves and the great heat they provide us throughout the winter, but I must say, our souls are sun seekers now. We are basking in the glory of vitamin D. Of course, because of our work, we are directed outdoors almost every day now. The greenhouse, the nursery, the gardens…And, as Ruth Stout said ( and I agree!) “I LOVE SPRING ANYWHERE, BUT IF I COULD CHOOSE I WOULD ALWAYS GREET IT IN A GARDEN.”

Our curious hens have found bare ground!

Hair cuts are desperately needed!


Today, we have been busy with an array of chores. Flats of seeds started, chicken coop mucked out and all the bedding deliciously tossed into the compost heap and replenished with clean shavings, a few signs were painted for the nursery season, two huge piles of brush were collected and are now ready for burning, emails were written and sent, more class postings have been added to our ‘classes and more’ page, and I was even able to put together some yummy chocolate Irish whiskey brownies. Did I already use the word decadent in this post? Let’s just apply that same word to these brownies, and then, let me share the recipe with you please.

Brownies With Irish Whiskey And Currants

1 cup hazelnuts ( I have also used walnuts)
12 ounces of bittersweet chocolate
2 sticks of unsalted butter
1 1/4 cup Irish Whiskey
1 1/2 currants or raisins
2 cups granulated sugar
4 extra-large eggs
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/4 unbleached all-purpose flour
Adjust the oven rack to middle position and preheat to 325 degrees. Spread hazelnuts (or walnuts) on the baking sheet and toast for 10 to 15 minutes. Allow to cool and remove skins from hazelnuts. Set aside.
Turn heat up to 350 degrees.
In a stainless steel mixing bowl set over a pot of gently simmering water, melt the chocolate and the butter. Take off heat once melted and allow to cool slightly.
In another small saucepan over low heat, heat the whiskey with the currants or raisins, stirring constantly to keep from sticking or burning. Cook until the liquid is sticky, bubbly, and reduced. About 3 to 5 minutes. Set aside.
In a bowl with an electric mixture whisk sugar, salt, and the eggs until they are mousse-like. Add flour in three batches. remove from mixer and stir in the chocolate. Stir in the currant mixture. Last, stir in the nuts. Bake in 11X17 baking dish well buttered. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, until firm to the touch. Cool before serving.

Oh boy, you’re going to love, love, love these! Enjoy!

New Year, New Reads

Having just finished re-reading, The Siberians, by Farley Mowat, which was published in 1970, I am on to a few new reads this New Year. Thank goodness my loved ones hear my request to put new titles under the Christmas tree. I don’t need a new sweater or jewelry (I can knit the first and rarely wear jewelry), I’m not into gadgets or tech things, nor would any new kitchen appliances be useful. So, the lovely home-made extra large blackboard (for my never-ending long lists) and the new books were just the things to get this New Year rolling in the right direction! The mighty blackboard, as we are calling it, is hung in the kitchen already graffitied with a long list of ‘to do’s’ and dates and things to remember. What I can do with a clean slate and a piece of chalk!
As for the small delicious stack of new books that I am reading and savoring, here’s the list:

Overstory, by Richard Powers

Midnight In Siberia, by David Greene

My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry, by Fredrik Backman

The Lambs, My father, And The Gift Of A Flock Of Sheep, by Carol George

Also, there was my renewed subscription to The Small farmer’s Journal (A Quarterly Periodical, Defending Small Farms and Craftsmanship Since 1976.)

So you can certainly understand why I wish for deep snow and blustery weather during the winter. Up early, stoke the fires, do chores, cross a few ‘to do’s’ off the mighty blackboard… then, late afternoon, settle into a comfy chair by the woodstove and read. Oh, what joy! Have you any suggested titles you’d like to share? I would love to hear them!

Savoring Sweet Summer

Yesterday, after a long hot and muggy day in the gardens, I had to make a quick trip into town. Going to town doesn’t excite me. I prefer my home ground, the bounty of flora that surrounds us, the constant music of our resident feathered flyers. It seems the older I get, the less I want to leave home. Most of what I need is here. Family. Friends. Gardens. Space. Serenity. And of course, plenty of fresh food. Despite my normal inclination to hunker down, there are times I have to muster the courage to venture outside of my self-proclaimed range and head to the ‘big (very little) city’. Sometimes we just need things, (even though we practice stocking up to avoid frequent trips) things like toilet paper and avocados. Things like coffee and extra sharp cheddar cheese and chocolate. Oh, and sometimes we have to make a bank deposit as well. That, too.
I go with a list. I don’t dawdle. I don’t stray from my course. I am on a mission. Grocery. Bank. Hardware store. My intent is to ‘get in and get out’ as quickly as possible. Yesterday, however, I did add an excursion just before heading home. I ran the errands that needed to be done and could have easily pointed the trusty Subaru west toward home, but I thought about summer and the heat and the glorious bodies of water that grace our state. So, I drove a little further east ( a mere mile or so) to my friend’s little parcel of land that sits along ‘Head Of Tide’ and went for a swim. This is where the salt water flows in and meets the Passagassawakeag River. During high tide, one can slip easily into the salty water, float with the current and enjoy the cooler temperatures of the oceans influence, and then paddle up the to the freshwater flowing in from the Passy. Divine. So, there I was, submerged in that cool and refreshing body of water, happy for my trip to town, savoring the sweetness of summer.
Sundays are good days for a little poetry, yes? A poem about swimming, enjoy and go for a swim!

When the day becomes hot and hazy
And I become tired and lazy,
All I can do is keep on reneging,
For the vast lawn needs mowing,
And the vegetable garden needs hoeing,
And work must come before swimming.

It seems that the grass has grown taller
And I get an immediate urge to holler.
Why can’t I forget this awful dreaming,
That I was always on the brink of sneezing,
And constantly plagued with episodes of wheezing,
Until soothing in the water with ease in breathing?

The sun seems to quiver and know
As I think of the old swimming hole,
I rest my aching body and keep reneging,
Of course my work I am not shirking,
But it’s just too hot and humid for working,
It’s about time to sneak out and go swimming.

I notice the sun in the azure sky beaming
And again I catch myself dreaming,
As the perspiration continues dripping,
But my tasks have me outsmarted,
And I plod along slowly and half – hearted,
Thinking of the old gang going dipping.

I face reality and refrain from dreaming
And seek relief from the humidity with meaning,
And go to the swimming hole that is brimming.
Life is too short to constantly worry,
So why should I continue to be in a hurry?
It’s summer and a time for swimming.
A Time For Swimming
Joseph T. Renaldi

Are We There Yet? High Summer, I mean.

And how did we arrive so soon? It is high summer, isn’t it? The first cut of hay is in. The squash and tomatoes and green beans are asserting their jungle personalities. We may still get one more decent harvest of peas before the heat does them in. Swimming holes are still but beckoning. The pray for rain is profound.
No longer do I come in casually from the garden with a basketful of spring greens, the earliest of radishes, a tub of energy-rich spinach, and think “oh, how nice to have a few tidbits, the earth’s first offerings”. Now it’s full-on, two canning kettles bubbling, the threat of squash taking over our lives. And yet. And yet, we have the creeping thoughts of winter, of firewood needing to be split and stacked ( oh, Denise, don’t mention it aloud!), of propagation for next year’s nursery season, of putting food up for the winter larder.
A brief account of summer from Gary Paulsen’s book Clabbered Dirt And Sweet Grass…it sums it up…this life, these seasons, this rhythm.

“With haying done there is not a separation of work. It continues. Always. But there is another line to cross and a new time comes then, comes then to the seasons- high summer. meterorological data means nothing, technical names mean nothing, the divisions are like music, like stops in a symphony. First thaw, early spring, breakup, middle spring, late spring, early summer, midsummer, high summer, late summer, early fall, Indian summer, first killing freeze, high fall, late fall, first snow, early winter, midwinter, high winter, late winter, first thaw, early spring, breakup…more names than months, more names than days, more names because more names are needed. For the luck”.

Fairy House Building class!!

Our fairy house building class was such a success last season we are offering it again this summer! Join us here at Fernwood Nursery for a two-part pottery class building miniature homes for your resident garden gnomes or fairies. During the first session, participants will design and construct their fairy homes using clay. Add a window box, tile your roof, or attach shutters, be creative! Once your houses are dry, we will fire them and bring them back to be glazed during the second session. After the glaze firing your pieces will be ready for installation! We will be using slab building and pinching techniques to make miniature shelters, perfect for any ‘little folks’ who may be wandering your woodland or gardens. Along with guidance on how to build and design out of clay, Denise will discuss how to best design around your new piece of mini real estate. Materials and supplies are included…plus, as with most all classes here at Fernwood, tea and scones will be served!
Saturday, July 29th, and Saturday, August 12th, 1:00 to 3:00.

If you’d like to join us, email at fernwoodnursery@fairpoint.net or call (207) 589-4726
You can check out our ‘classes and more’ page for details