In The Studio

Through the remainder of August and into September we’ll be featuring some local artisans in the studio. If you’d like to get a jump on some holiday gift purchasing and want to support some local artisans, this may be your chance. The studio will be open Wednesday through Sunday, 9-5.
Our friend Sett Balise (brambledragon.com) is an accomplished potter from Liberty, Maine. Sett has a beautiful and functional selection of pottery available ( we eat oatmeal out of some of his bowls all winter!), come check it out!
My friend Sally Savage, photographer and mixed media artist, left a small collection of her polymer clay ‘beach stone’ necklaces for purchase. Sally will also be teaching a class this Fall at Fiber College if you’d like to join the fun and make some stones on your own.
And of course, there will be yarn for sale….handspun, hand-dyed yarn from our own flock of Blue-Face Leicester sheep! It’s never too early to increase your winter yarn stash!
Come check out the studio, wander the gardens, and find out what’s happening these days here at Fernwood!

Blue Days

Nothing to cry about, quite the contrary! This lace-cap hydrangea serrata is attracting lots of visitors, both humans and pollinators. So happy that our buzzing friends (the buzzing insects, not the humans) are finding nourishment throughout the gardens.
And, it’s blueberry season here in Maine! I’ve picked up a carload of blueberries from my friend’s farm in Washington. Ten 10 lb. boxes of blueberries for here and for friends. Of course, we will freeze most of them, but a couple of fresh pies will be made and some blueberry ice cream cranked out. Like I said, nothing to cry about!!! Yum! Summer at its best!

My Amazing Friend, Mike Robertson

I first met my friend Mike Robertson at the Game Loft in Belfast. Mike is the Game Loft’s operations director and he had hired me a few years ago to do some cooking for their after school program ( a job I loved!). Mike is truly an amazing person. Aside from being excellent at his job at the Game Loft, he is curious, adventurous, and he is the kind of guy that likes to follow his dreams. What dreams, you ask? Check out Mike’s story here as he peddles across the country. I am truly honored to know Mike, to call him a friend, and to have the privilege and pleasure to follow him on his epic journey. You should follow along as well…..you’re about to see the country through the vision of someone incredible!

A Gal From Texas Comes To Maine

Howdy from Texas! My name is Anna Guillory and I’m a WWOOF volunteer (what’s WWOOF? Check that out here!) who has spent the last ten days at Fernwood Nursery with my lovely, lovely hosts, Denise and Rick. I recently graduated from Texas Christian University with a degree in Art Education. I wanted to take the time to WWOOF the summer before starting a job teaching high school art and I decided that Fernwood was the right fit. I first heard about WWOOFing from my cousin at the disinterested age of 14 and never thought I’d be doing it now. Through school, I became interested in learning about sustainable living and organic gardening and I was making artwork centered around these ideas. I thought WWOOFing would be a good way for me to inform myself as an artist, as well as bringing back some insights to my future classroom and students. Increasing one’s knowledge of gardening, the biology of plants, and how things grow, etc. can often give us a much better understanding of how we look at things in the world. My WWOOF experience has helped accomplish this and being here at Fernwood has inspired me to look at things in the natural world more closely. I found Fernwood Nursery back in March when their WWOOF site had posted that they were looking for volunteers. Being an artist, I was really interested in how Denise works with her sheep. Fibers and textiles are something I have always wanted to learn more about, and I was equally interested in the farm and nursery aspect. It was a win-win! I’ve heard beautiful things about Maine, and wanted to see another part of the States. All that being said, it has blown me away! Aside from my interests in coming to learn and experience farming, it has been an incredibly healing place for me to be before beginning a new season of life after college. Working with Denise and Rick and learning from them, as well as just being on their property, has grounded me and been a rejuvenating experience. I had almost thought I wasn’t going to be able to come to Maine but Denise and Rick were flexible with my change in dates, and have proven to be ever too generous with my needs. I’m glad to know they will always be people I can count on and available to me. Denise asked if I would write 10 things I’ve learned during my stay. If you do the math right, that’s one thing a day, but I know there are many more things I could list and I am certain I will only continue to build upon them after returning to my life in Texas.There are also some photos included of some great outings and projects, so enjoy!

Ten things:

1.Ephemeral plants bloom in early spring and often go dormant in the late summer months ( this I did not know!!)

2.How to make a hyper-tufa vessel ( I’ll be carrying a mini hyper-tufa vessel home with me, yee ha!)

3.Weeds can be edible ( like purslane and lamb’s quarters and chickweed!!) and super good for you!!

4.How to make Beet and Fruit Kvass ( yum, yum, thank you, wise woman, Liz!!)

5.How to make lemon balm pesto with freshly picked garlic scapes

6.Felting with wool from Denise’s Blue Face Leicester sheep

7.Skirting a fleece

8.The importance of seed saving ! (oh my, how very, very important! I watched this while at Fernwood, SEED: The Untold Story)

9.What a hula-hoe is and how to use it ( and boy did I use it!)

10.Not all flying things ( bugs) are harmful, only some. (and only if you develop a phobia and run like the dickens to escape them)<

In addition, while here in Maine, I also traveled to Rogues Bluff with a Teardrop trailer, hiked a local trail (Haystack mountain) and picked wild blueberries, learned to shingle an outbuilding on the farm, learned some plant propagation techniques, harvested vegetables and herbs, and had the pleasure of mingling with some of the local community and to discover how welcoming and friendly Maine people are!
Now back to Texas where I’ll be certainly pondering all the wonderful experiences and things I learned during my time in Maine. My wish is to call upon all of the valuable lessons learned from my WWOOF experience and to apply them as best and often as I can in my life back in Texas. Have a great summer, my Maine friends!

A trip Downeast for a picnic with the teardrop trailer!

A super yummy picnic, that is!!

A hike up Haystack just a mile from Fernwood!

Build A Planter!!

Build A Hypertufa Planter
Sunday,July 9th, 2017 , 1:00-3:00 Cost: $45.00, materials included

Join us here at Fernwood Nursery for a class on designing and constructing your own hypertufa vessel. Hypertufa is a lightweight medium often used in molding pots, troughs, and planters. Learn the basic ingredients for a hypertufa mix and about the various forms that can be used to create unique and natural looking outdoor planters.
Come build your own, then take it home for planting!
Tea and freshly baked scones will be served.
Class limit 10 and preregistration required. Please call us at (207) 589-4726 or email us at fernwoodnursery@fairpoint.net. You may also contact us here.

Virginia

My posting activity has been on the slack side of things, apologies everyone! I’ve just returned from a graduation and a quick visit to Virginia. It is a very difficult time to leave home but this was an event I couldn’t miss, so off I went. Rick held down the fort here at the nursery, keeping the world of Fernwood running smoothly.
I have never been to Virginia, who claims the flowering dogwood as its state flower and tree, but I was very impressed with these things that make Virginia a special place…
Virginia is beautiful! The flowering magnolias (Magnolia grandiflora), the dogwoods ( Cornus kousa and Cornus florida) and the sweet smelling gardenia were all in bloom and lovely. It is a very tidy state and well mapped out (this being very helpful considering how easily I can navigate myself out of the wilderness but am terrible with finding my way through congested cities). I hardly saw any trash scattered on the roadsides! Virginians should be very proud of this, it makes all the difference when the roadsides and streets are kept tidy! The people of Virginia are very friendly, smiling and saying howdy, never passing you on the street without a smile and a hello. I loved this. The beauty of Virginia was felt everywhere…in its towns, along the beaches, and throughout the rural areas. In addition to having a wonderful time with our son, Noah and his fiancee, I traveled with a dear friend ( a Virginian!) who offered up the very essence of her state….kindness, generosity and a welcoming that beat all. Thank you, thank you, Kari!
I’m home now and back in full swing. We’ll be posting any summer classes this week. We’ll be weeding and planting and harvesting. We’ll be greeting a new WWOOF volunteer. We’ll be continuing to stock the nursery with mid-summer delights. Come on by and say hello, the gardens are bursting and there will be lots to share!
Happy Day everyone!

Tatsoi

One of our favorite early greens to grow is tatsoi. We sow seeds in the greenhouse in March and when the seedlings are ready, the first batch is planted in the hoop house. Another flat of seed is sown for an outdoor planting late in the spring. Tatsoi is classified as a Brassica and is a variety of Chinese cabbage and commonly known as spoon mustard or spinach mustard. It is a small low-growing plant that forms a rosette of petite, dark green, spoon-shaped leaves. It is super cold hardy, withstanding a temperature as low as 15 degrees F. We can count on having a bounty of tatsoi by mid-April and it does just the trick for satisfying our craving of fresh greens. Tatsoi has a mild taste, much like spinach. Being a plant that likes cooler temperatures ( perfect for here in Maine, yes?), it will become a bit more bitter tasting if allowed to bolt and flower.
We’ll often eat it raw in a salad or on sandwiches, but mostly we use it in a stir-fry or in an omelet. My favorite way to use Tatsoi is quite simple : Saute a medium size onion in a little olive oil, add a lot of minced garlic ( 4-5 cloves), chop the tatsoi (stems include) and toss that in ( we sometimes add shitake mushrooms), sprinkle in a few red pepper flakes, season with tamari and black pepper. We pile this onto some cooked brown rice and top it off with some crumbled feta cheese. Food for the soul! Often during our busy season here at the nursery, this is just what we’ll eat for lunch.Tatsoi is a good source of vitamins A, C, and K, carotenoids, folate, calcium and potassium. So good, so nourishing, I highly recommend adding it to your garden repertoire.

What we’re hobnobbing with….

Green growth, the feel of the earth, tree buds, grass, roots and shoots, life bursting and making its presence known, a recent bloom, the divine smell of lilacs, a fleeting ephemeral, the robust intention of the all- mighty and long-lived rhubarb plant, the tender seedlings trying with all their might.
Ahh, the joy, the privilege, the prayer of it all….
I think, truly, Frank Llyod Wright said it best…
Please, pay attention, witness it, get down on your knees and look.
Life, it’s happening….right before your eyes!

On Mother’s Day

We had lots of visitors at the nursery on Mother’s Day and although it was rainy and cold, the spirit of the day, the celebration of honoring a mom, was fully present. There were smiles between the raindrops (or downpours as it was!) and despite layers of clothing and raingear visitors were willing to brave the elements and find something for their gardens.
Being a mom of two grown children, I am a blessed recipient of their Mother’s Day efforts. One is far away, so a midday call with lots of sappy ‘love you, love you, love you’ chat was offered up to melt my heart. The older of the two showed up early with gifts…an antique wine box because she knows of my infatuation with old wooden boxes and then a little set of enamel cups and saucers because she also knows I like to have a collection of metalware when we head out for an adventure or picnic. That girl! And of course, there was dinner…. grilled burgers with wild mushrooms and a caramelized onion cheddar, a pesto pasta salad, grilled corn, home-made french bread and fresh bruschetta, and a sweet selection of fancy cupcakes. So glad I spent the time in the kitchen with her as a child, it’s really paying off for me now!!
We do hope everyone had a lovely weekend and that the rain didn’t dampen the hopes and intentions of getting into the garden. 80 degrees here in Maine on Thursday I hear, the extremes of spring in the northeast! Happy day everyone!

We’re ready!

Sanguinaria canadense Multi-plex

It has been a busy weekend here at Fernwood! On Saturday, we offered our ‘Early Bloomers and Ephemerals’ class. After a talk and slide show, attendees were able to walk the gardens and view the many early woodland and shade plants gracing the gardens at the moment. So nice to share time with eager gardeners wanting to learn more about those garden gems that are first to bloom here in Maine. Great fun!
The hoop house finally got its new skin. After 5 years, the poly needs replacing and we were happy to have another set of hands to help pull the plastic over and secure it. Thanks, Charles!! It’s looking pretty snazzy…like a kid in their new summer kicks!
We continue to pot up plants for the season, the nursery is well stocked with rows of both new and old selections. Opening day here is Wednesday, May 3rd. Our hours are from 9-5. Regular hours through the season will be Wednesday through Sunday. Closed Monday and Tuesday. Visitors can always call or email us for directions and with questions.
It is always exciting (and busy) this time of year. We are putting as many hours into the day as we can fit…”making hay while the sunshines” as they say. Hope to see you this season!
Now, why not a poem…

April Woods: Morning

Birth of color
out of night and the ground.
Luminous the gatherings
of bloodroot
newly risen, green leaf
white flower
in the sun, the dark
grown absent.

by Wendell Berry