We’re offering a great class this spring on some of the earliest plants to bloom in the woodland gardens. We do love these garden beauties that arrive early, but often they come and go before the nursery opens and before visitors get to enjoy them as well. Rick will be here to lead us through the gardens, identifying some of the ‘ephemerals and early risers’ and discussing site selection and soil needs. He is always happy to ‘talk plants’, so come and join us.This class was offered last spring and was a great hit, lots of information about your early woodland garden! A light lunch and tea will be provided. You can check out our Classes and More page for information and cost.
First of all, Sweetfern, Comptonia peregrina is not a fern at all, but actually, a shrub that is in the bayberry family. The leaves, which are very aromatic, are fernlike in their appearance. An extremely useful and adaptable native, it can grow in a variety of soils in full sun to part shade. Often, due to its spreading and colonizing habit, it used to stabilize slopes or other disturbed sites. Since it fixes its own nitrogen, is drought tolerant, withstands the wind, and can thrive in poor gravelly soils, it is often used in commercial and municipal projects. But it is also very useful in the home landscape. The deep green foliage is an attractive addition to any design that keeps in mind its ability to spread. Once it attains its mature height of 3′-5′, the plants tend to not get any higher, making a hedge that requires very little pruning. In spring the yellowish green flowers are not striking, but very interesting. These are followed later in the year by small edible nutlets held inside a fuzzy casing. The leaves can be used for a tea and many medicinal applications including, but not limited to, astringents, tonics, and the relief of the effects of poison ivy. This is one very tough native that should be considered more often in the residential landscape. We’ll have plenty of Comptonia here at the nursery this spring. If you are looking for an aromatic native with multiple uses, put this plant on the list! It’s a gem!
Out went our Christmas tree today. Amazing how much more light comes through the big windows without a shade tree blocking the way. Now it can stand out beside the trellis for the remainder of the winter and the birds can enjoy it.
The sun was bright this afternoon and it was warm enough to muck out the chicken coop and sheep pens. No frozen poop to chisel! That’s nice. All the bedding gets tossed into a big sled and then dragged over to be emptied into the compost piles. Soil food!! See, even though we enjoy our winter hibernation we still have gardening in our thoughts.
After a fine day of working mostly outdoors, it was time to come in, stoke the fires, and make some dinner. Dinner? Remember that salmon we caught ice fishing? Filleted, dredged in flour, salt, and pepper, then sauteed in butter…..the best!
We are asked this question frequently this time of year. It usually starts after the 4th of July and increases as the season goes on. Our answer is always “No it is not!”. In fact, now through September and into October it is not only a good time to plant perennials, trees, and shrubs but an ideal time for both the plants and you. By late summer and fall, you will have had the time to see what changes and additions are needed in your garden. You can do it now while it is fresh in your mind, most of the plants are still up rather than having to guess where they are in the spring. Also, the soil is more workable than it might be in a soggy or wet spring. Rains are more numerous and the temperatures are cooler. This is the only time of year when the soil is warm and the air is cool. Perfect for plants to go about the business of producing a good root system without the stress of heat and low moisture. They also are not producing a lot of new top growth and flowers as they do in the spring. In the spring they are asked to do it all. This time of year the energy goes into rooting, roots for the winter, and more roots to survive dry periods next year. Plantings now will be much more vigorous next year than those planted next spring. For me, I much prefer working outside in the late summer and fall without the blackflies, mosquitoes, and heat of summer. The most important part of planting now and into the fall is keeping the plants watered. Usually, in our area, we have more than enough rain. We understand that this year has been a challenge for some gardeners with the lack of moisture during our summer months. If the rains return as they do in a normal year, it will be an opportunity to plant what you may have been reluctant to during the heat and drought. Remember that water needs for the plant diminish as fall approaches. With the spring as busy as it is for us with the nursery and vegetable gardens, late summer and fall are when we have the time to divide our plants and create new gardens. Now is a great time to plant.
A 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.
There are also some comings and goings in the gardens. Those wonderful azaleas are coming into bloom. Gorgeous… and some with a light sweet fragrance. One of our favorite plants, Saruma henryi, an upright and shade loving wild ginger, is also in bloom and quite lovely. Its soft yellow 3 petaled flowers and slightly fuzzy leaves are a beautiful addition to the woodland garden.
The month of June brings a new look to the gardens. Fuller now with the larger plants…hosta, rodgersia, ferns, polygonatums, and woodland peonies (to name a few) making an impressive statement.This being said, gems like Saruma henryi, anemonellas, and dodecatheons ( again, to name a few) are no less striking and appreciated. We, as usual, remain busy in the nursery continuing to pot up new additions and also to replenish the plants that have gone home with our customers. These comings and goings at Fernwood Nursery include people, plants, and….lambs.
Join us on Saturday, July 16th, from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. for an afternoon of herbal tea making. Learn to craft your own tea blends using garden-grown herbs. We’ll also be including some local wild harvested plants that are easy to identify and well-known for their health benefits. Herbs are plants that are valued for their medicinal, aromatic, or savory qualities. From chamomile to mint to lemon balm, drying fresh herbs for aromatic teas is simple and gives you yet another reason to put your summer herb garden to use. The class will begin with an informative talk on selecting, growing, harvesting, and drying herbs ….we’ll be taking into consideration both taste and the specific health benefits of these plants while blending our tea.
Next, It’s time to get creative and start making tea ! Each participant will make their very own tea blend to take home, using an array of dried herbs from our gardens. At the end of the class, you will also get a selection of 3 herbs, potted, and ready to take along with you and plant in your own herb garden.
Of course, if there’s going to be tea, there will most certainly be scones! For more information check out our ‘classes and more’ page. If you’d like to sign up for this class, you can email us at email@example.com or call us at 207-589-4726.
Opening day here at Fernwood Nursery will be Saturday, April 30th! We are open Tuesday through Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. We are closed only on Mondays. We are very excited to see customers, both old and new, and to begin another season of gardening and plant talk! Come check out some great plants for shade and woodland! Directions for getting to the nursery are available on our website : http://www.fernwoodnursery.com
Happy spring, happy gardening to all!