The plants have no idea of the virus that looms over us. They are simply carrying on, pushing onward and upward. Their presence, the delight they bring, is helping to calm our souls, give us something other than hand washing and mask wearing ( we are doing both!) and ‘mission accomplished’ trips to the store from being, always, in the very forefront of our minds. The woodland landscape here at the nursery is filled with bird chatter and bee activity and new blooms and texture. A feast. A bounty. A world enchanted. Here are a few quick snaps of plants catching our eye at the moment…be well and safe dear friends!

Cypripedium parviflorum

Hydrastis canadense

Another Dusting

Hepatica nobilis

Delphinium tricorne

Another dusting of snow last night and more high winds added to the mix of variables this season. Oh my! We have our sights on opening Wednesday, May 6th ( please check the previous post for details regarding any accommodations or suggestions). Lots of the early ephemerals are in bloom and many other plants are emerging with great promise. As plant propagators and growers, we take on the role as escorts to all of these dear and beautiful plants, welcoming them back from their slumber and nurturing them as they awaken. Their tenacious come back regardless of conditions are an inspiration and a reminder of hope and best intentions. A nasty virus has a hold on the world, the high winds and late season snow has crumbled power lines and leveled chicken coops ( previous post), heavy rains flooded the basement, but the Allium tricoccum ( ramps) I propagated last season are up and ready and the bright cheery petals of Hepatica are peering out regardless of the weather. Tiny lettuce seeds barely larger than a grain of sand have germinated and are on their way to becoming a celebrated salad at our dinner table ( Thank you, lettuce seed!). We are all struggling with the uncertain conditions of the globe right now, and yet, this amazing natural world reminds me of promise and possibility. Who’s holding who’s hand? I am not sure I am the only escort ushering life forward. These plants we cherish are soothing our souls and keeping us grounded.
Be well friends and please be safe and kind to yourselves and to others and to our big green world. See you soon!

Opening Day Wednesday, May 6th!

Yes, we will be open here at Fernwood Nursery and soon! Our opening day is Wednesday, May 6th. Our regular seasonal hours are Wednesday through Sunday, 9 to 5 p.m. Due to the corona virus and to provide comfort and safety to our customers we will be altering a few of our normal ways of doing business.
Please read the list of accommodations we are implementing to help gardeners get the plants they want and to feel safe.
1. For the month of May ( and as long as needed and recommended) we will limit the number of visitors in the nursery to 5 at a time. This will allow ample space between shoppers ( a hefty 10 feet). We will help with parking and arranging the flow of visitors coming in and out of the nursery. We will have signage provided to help.

2. Please consider bringing your own boxes for taking plants home. We recommend wearing gloves and a face mask if it provides comfort and reassurance. There will be hand sanitizer at our check out counter, but feel free to bring your own as well.

3. Please maintain a 6 ft buffer ( this should not be a problem given the size of the nursery) with others.

4. We will still accept checks, cash, and credit for purchases. The check-out area will be set -up to minimize direct handling. We will have plenty of signage to help us and you navigate this area of our business.

5. If you prefer and know what plants you are wishing to purchase, we are happy to put your order together and have it boxed and ready for you to pick up. If you need consultation or suggestions with regard to particular plants or availability, please call and we will do everything to assist you by phone or email. We do not have an online list of our plants but we are more than happy to have lengthy discussions about the plants we grow and provide. (207)589-4726 and email us at fernwoodnursery@fairpoint.net

6. If you are feeling any concern about visiting the nursery during regular hours , you may call us to arrange a private visit. We will designate Mondays and Tuesdays ( normal closed days) to schedule a visit. We may also be able to arrange a few private visits after hours on regular business days. (207) 589-4726 leave message if we don’t answer and we will surely get back to you. Email us at fernwoodnursery@fairpoint

We appreciate our customers and want to continue providing the plants Fernwood Nursery is known for. We also appreciate your support and willingness to be flexible during these uncertain times. Gardening, as we all know, is good for the soul. The natural world is often our great healer… keep gardening, keep your hands in the soil, and absorb the beauty and power of plants!
As I so often do, and will now do again, I will leave off with a poem:


This is the time to be slow,
Lie low to the wall
Until the bitter weather passes.
Try, as best you can, not to let
The wire brush of doubt
Scrape from your heart
All sense of yourself
And your hesitant light.
If you remain generous,
Time will come good;
And you will find your feet
Again on fresh pastures of promise,
Where the air will be kind
And blushed with beginning.

by John O’Donohue

Resiliency

Our dear lovely chickens are getting used to their new digs until we build them a new coop. We are calling it the ‘chicken high rise’ and have been watching as they navigate walking a plank down to the ground. Our chickens are resilient, for sure!
Believe it or not, most of the snow has melted and the sun has been shining over the last two days. We have weathered the storm and lived to tell about it, ha!
So, now we are picking up the pieces and carrying on and throwing our shoulders into the work that needs to be done. I’ll end the post with a very fitting poem by Emily Dickinson called:

Hope Is The Thing With Feathers

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.

Let’s Add Just A Little More To The Plate…

As if the virus is not enough, here in Maine ( particullarly Waldo County) we experienced an epic late season snow storm. As of last Thursday, 15 inches of very wet snow took down trees and power lines ( and chicken coops) and we are still without power. This means running two generators to keep the greenhouse warm and all of our food freezers from thawing. At night, the alarm is set to ring every two hours so we can get up to ‘make the rounds’ checking the heater in the big greenhouse and looking for new downed limbs. Friday morning we woke to find a giant Ash tree had uprooted and fallen directly onto the chicken coop, smashing it to the ground. Yes, there was a coop full of unsuspecting chickens inside and by some miracle they all lived through the collapse. I crawled under the debris and plucked each one out from underneath the fallen timbers and handed them to Rick. They now have a new residence in the building we use for brooding new chicks, and, by the next day, they were back to laying eggs and enjoying the ‘more than usual’ extra treats we are offering them as a way of soothing their nerves.. I love my chickens, I really do.
Today is Monday and we are hoping, hoping, we may see some progress being made in our town. Here at Fernwood, though the extra work and rounds are tiring, we are fairly self sufficient and we are doing ok. We worry about some of our neighbors who are going without heat or water and we desperately want the power to be restored quickly so that they don’t have this extra burden placed on them.
Here at Fernwood we will keep plodding along, doing our work, looking toward brighter days. Be well and be safe, friends. We have very weird and uncertain times on our hands all over the world. On a lighter and positive note, we look forward to seeing gardeners soon, perhaps from a 6 ft. distance, but are hoping that the nursery will bring comfort and relief in the days to come.

With Hopeful Intention

Helleborus thibetanus

We are here tucked in and staying isolated, no great feat for two very happy homebodies. Truth be told, we have not left the nursery or had anyone on the property for a full three weeks! Of course, much of this has to do with the dreaded virus and wanting to stay healthy and keep others healthy. If the nursery itself is isolated from visitors for an extended period of time, then we can be certain that we are a comfortable and reassuring place to visit come May. We are anticipating a May opening ( and will announce our ‘opening day’ here on the blog and our phone message (207) 589-4726, as we always do… and Instagram!), and if following guidelines, we are considered an essential business. We will do all that we can to bring comfort to visitors coming to Fernwood Nursery to buy plants. By the first week of May, with the effort of all people doing their best to stay distanced and healthy, we will open our gate and sell plants. Perhaps we will limit the number of people walking the aisle at one time. We will write up some careful and helpful guidelines that may also bring comfort and reassurance while shopping…gloves, keeping distance, not handling pots and placing them back into rows, bringing your own boxes for carrying plants out. These are a few thoughts and we welcome any of yours. Suggestions? Let’s hear them! If you are uncomfortable shopping while others are here, you can call ahead with a list of plants you would like to purchase and we will have them ready for you. Feel free to email us with questions and availability. The list is long and we will do our best to spend time on the phone or through email giving you our best suggestions and descriptions. Also, you can call and make an appointment for a private visit here at the nursery. Again, we will do all that we can to keep our gardening friends happy and safe. As we move closer to the month of May, we will certainly know better the circumstances around ‘getting out and about’ to shop for plants! Let’s stay posted, shall we?
The staying home here at the nursery has a silver lining. We are getting so much done! Plants are being potted up and sales ready. New exciting introductions are being nurtured and set out. The greenhouse and hoop house is filling with the tender shoots of green promise. The display gardens are surprising us with spring treasures on a daily basis… delight, delight! The mud is annoying ( did I say that?). I am creating a new display garden just for Epimediums and alpine plants. We are finishing up a new summer kitchen for classes ( so excited about this !). The wood fired bread and pizza oven is ready and has a newly built wooden structure over it. We are puttering along on the new food wagon we bought. What? New food wagon? Yes, the details are saved for another post but somehow I could not resist this little cute wagon we are calling ‘Local-Motion’. Well, we are humming along here at Fernwood Nursery and keeping our sights on promise and better days. We do hope all of you are staying safe and healthy and finding ways to keep your souls and hearts occupied with all good and helpful tasks. We look forward to seeing everyone when we are in the clear and can tend that great urge to get out and dig in our gardens. Be well and blessings to all of you!
P.S. If you need it, here is our email: fernwoodnursery@fairpoint.net

Pollinators…Come hear the buzz!

“My ears filled with the dozy hum of bees and those tiny and odd insect sounds that rise up all around, the sounds mingling in my mind with the good, deep smell of earthy life.” Elisabeth Tova Bailey, in The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating

On Sunday, May 17th, at 2:00 p.m. join us here at Fernwood Nursery along with Amy Campbell to discuss the importance of native pollinators in the garden and landscape. Learn to identify the vast array of pollinators and insects that are so crucial to the ecological well being of our natural world. The discussion will also include plants you may select for your own gardens that will help to encourage a host of pollinators, both native… and non native. We’ll tour the display beds identifying the plants and pollinating visitors that are present in the early spring gardens and woodland. Amy is a life-long home gardener with a particular interest in propagation and growing from seed. As a nature photographer and honey bee keeper she became fascinated by native bees and other insects that visit flowers and has now taken up their cause and advocates for them as a Maine Master Gardener. In addition, Fernwood Nursery will provide a delightful offering of tea and baked goodies. Please visit our classes and more page for any additional information. Space is limited, therefor we do require visitors to pre-register for this class. You are welcome also to call us at (207) 589-4726 or email us at fernwoodnursery@fairpoint.net

“If all mankind were to disappear, the world would regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed ten thousand years ago. If insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos.”
E.O. Wilson, Ph.D.

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.

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!

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!