This Fella…

We have had many good dogs here at the nursery. There was this one: Boreal who amazed us with his intelligence and his loyalty. There was good old Miller dog This Old Dog…. who was like a Buddha in blond fur. Really, really great dogs. We loved them dearly and miss their personalities and presence in our every day.
And, then, well, there’s Lucky. Lucky was the tiny little pup our daughter brought home curled up in a blanket. “Mom, we HAVE to keep him, he’s so cute and he needs us and I promise, promise, promise, you won’t have to do a thing, I’ll do everything!” When a kid tells you that, it’s never really the truth. It doesn’t matter if it’s a dog or a goldfish, as a parent, you end up buying the food or scraping the algae off the side of the fish bowl.
Lucky is pretty much my dog now and has been for over 6 years. The daughter still adores him but doesn’t live at home anymore and I have to admit that I fell so head over heals in love with this dog that I thought of every reason why it would be best if he stayed here at the nursery…stability, room to roam ( which he does little of!), the move too traumatic ( this was embellished a bit by me), on and on I went. Lucky is silly and very affectionate and quite frankly sees himself as sort of “The Prince of Fernwood”. He does very little to scare off deer or even chipmunks and prefers comfort over combat. He has an internal clock inside his head that keeps him devoted to his routine. The routine encompasses meal times, finding the warmest coziest spot to lounge, and bedtime. He does love his walks in the woods and car rides and helping us as we move the sheep fence at the farm…as long as it’s not too cold, not too windy, not too wet, or the sheep get too close ( he’s embarrassed to admit that sheep intimidate him). He is goofy and snuggly and adores his family. He loves to be pampered and that is why I cart his ‘day bed’ out to the hoop house everyday where it gets super toasty and he can enjoy basking in warmth while he snoozes. Pathetic. Comfort is number one for this dog, he loves people, will follow children anywhere, and truly appreciates the life he lives.
I am lucky for Lucky. I am. I am.
So, if you visit the nursery, you may meet Lucky. You may meet him if the day does not involve inclement weather and if he is not stretched out catching the sun. If the variables of comfort are aligned and he is inspired to make the trek from hoop house to sales area, he may saunter ( and I do mean saunter) up to the nursery to say hello.
Now, this poem, by Kate Barnes…which Lucky approves of.

Why Do You Ask?

I can’t make
any story
about my life
tonight. The house
is like an overturned
the radio
is predicting more snow.
I ask my dog
to tell me
a story, and he
never hesitates.
“Once upon
a time,” he says,
“a woman lived
with a simply
wonderful dog…” and
he stops talking.
Is that all?”
I ask him.
“yes,” he says,
“Why do you ask?
Isn’t it enough?”

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

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

Wednesday, May 8th! Opening Day!

The nursery is stocked and the display beds are peppered with spring ephemerals. We are busy, busy and looking forward to the new season! Looking for some Maine natives or an unusual rarity? Come visit, the shingle is out welcoming you this Wednesday!
Our hours for the season are Wednesday through Sunday, 9 to 5. Closed Monday and Tuesday.

Jeffersonia dubia

Hepatica triloba

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.

Comings And Goings

Saruma henryi

Saruma henryi

Our very dear WWOOF volunteer (Zoe) has gone to her next farm assignment over in the Maine western foothills and Dottie, our little bottle lamb, will be leaving this week to graze on grassy pastures over at our friend Sally’s. We’ll miss Zoe’s enthusiasm and positive energy (and her very good sense of humor!). We’ll also miss the pitter patter of our pampered lamb making herself comfortable inside the house. But she’s bigger now and ready to rejoin a flock of fleecy friends. Picture 2953
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.
Azalea 'Roger Luce hybrid'

Azalea ‘Roger Luce hybrid’

Picture 2901
Picture 2897The 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.


New Year’s Visitors

WGI_0020As you can see from the photo ( our game camera) we have had some unwelcome visitors to the nursery. These deer are feeding under an apple tree that is barely twenty feet from the back of our barn. The lack of snow has given deer the ability to travel freely in search of food. This years heavy apple crop has been enjoyed by the deer in lieu of acorns and beechnuts that were scarce. This particular tree drops its apples late in the season well after the other trees have. In past years we have not had the deer come this close, but now that we are without a good nursery dog, this was bound to happen. While we enjoy all wildlife, deer especially have no place in a plant nursery just as a fox doesn’t belong in the hen house. As many of you know, deer can do a lot of damage to your landscape in a very short time. We will have to take measures to curtail them this winter if the snows doesn’t come to keep them in the woods.We are fortunate to live in such a wooded and rural area and that we can enjoy (and see) the wildlife that wander not far from this very homestead. We just prefer that they respect their boundaries. A lot to ask, we know. This being said, it is not surprising that our worlds overlap from time to time. Deer in the nursery, fox in the hen house, coyote contemplating how to get around the sheep fence. Yes, a plan will be made to keep the deer away from the plants we grow, but we wouldn’t want to change living amongst our wild neighbors. We will just kindly remind them to dine elsewhere.WGI_0044

After A Giant Rain

Picture 1276Oh, the list of things to tackle today! We are grateful for the rain. No watering necessary in the nursery, nature did it for us. But now, some serious weeding. Didn’t we just go through that bed? Thank goodness for the leaf mulch we so carefully spread, it certainly helps with weed control ( and feeds the soil). We have a young friend coming today who loves gardening, loves to be here at the nursery, and loves weeding. How lucky we are!
So, the list? Weeding ( it always gets to be first!)
Harvest two of the large spinach beds, blanch, and freeze
Pot up the Epimedium, dwarf iris, and twin flower( Linnaea borealis)
Begin sorting through the stock area and selecting plants for the nursery
Move the sheep fence
Clean out the pig’s pen
Ready the greenhouse for the upcoming hypertufa class ( a couple of spots still open!)

Picture 1284These are just a few tasks I can think of at the moment. More will come to mind as soon as we step outside. Visitors here at the nursery have been enjoying the bed of mini hosta we planted a year ago. There is a huge selection of mini hosta on the market. We carry at least 30 different varieties. Mini hostas can range in size from 2 to 6 inches. If you have a small shady space and want to fill it, consider these miniatures. Besides, they have great names like Teeny- weeny Bikini, Mighty Mouse, Dragon Tails, Pure Heart, and Chartreuse Wiggles, to name a few.
Enjoy the day and happy gardening everyone!

Not Even Quite Summer ( Officially)

a delicious bouquet of lilacs from our friend George Holmes

a delicious bouquet of lilacs from our friend George Holmes

According to the calendar summer starts officially on June 21st. The kids at school are still waiting for that last bell to ring, for the doors to swing open, and to be let out for their long awaited summer vacation. Here at the nursery, we feel like we’re in the throes of summer. Even if the weather has been on the cool side. Even if it is still officially spring. Our season starts early ( well, not so early this year!), and by this time we have a substantial part of the growing season under our belt. Oh yes, lots more to come. The pace of summer will be with us for awhile. We love the activity, we love chatting with our customers who visit the nursery, we even love weeding! Here are a few photos from around the garden.
Hosta ' Aureomaginata'

Hosta ‘ Aureomaginata’

Peony ostii

Peony ostii

Primula japonica

Primula japonica

Tree Peony ( unnamed)

Tree Peony ( unnamed)

We are bustling along here. New varieties of hosta being potted up daily. The sales area stocked with great native and woodland plants. The vegetable gardens filling in. The studio building is coming along. Our friend Ron has begun building a small cabin on our property, we love having him as a neighbor. He has been excited with the concept of the “Tiny House” movement and is working on his own version. Always something new and happening here at Fernwood! Picture 1151

Golden Slippers

Fernwood's  " Golden Slippers'  Convallaria

Fernwood’s ” Golden Slippers’ Convallaria

Convallaria ‘Fernwood’s Golden Slippers’ is a Lily of the Valley that we introduced here at Fenrnwood Nursery a few years ago. It is a sport of ‘Cream da Mint’, another of our Convallaria introductions. Golden Slippers appears in the spring with very bright gold leaves that will eventually turn to a light chartreuse color later in the season. It has larger than normal flowers that are just as fragrant as the more common selections. These are followed by red berries that are quite showy against the yellow foliage. Unlike most other Convallarias, it does not aggressively spread and take over an area. The chartreuse leaves do not look as tired and worn out at the end of the season, especially if kept out of too much sun and the soil is not allowed to get too dry. The golden leaves make for a great combination with the blue or red shades of the foliage and flowers of other plants. In a shade garden, ‘Golden Slippers’ creates a bright accent among some of its more subdued neighbors. ‘Fernwood’s Golden Slippers’ gets its name from the footwear of a dear friend of mine, Mildred Seaver. Mildred was an inspiration and terrific mentor within the Hosta world, having spent many years breeding and introducing a number of wonderful Hosta’s into the market. ‘Golden Slippers’ is a bright addition to the shade garden, and a forever reminder of my friend, Mildred. As we continue to wait for the snow to melt, preparations for the upcoming season are underway. Fernwood will open on May 9th, we look forward to greeting customers and getting our hands back into the soil!

BFL Skeins Still Available

DSC04995DSC05001There are still plenty of hand dyed Blue Face Leicester skeins of yarn available. Visit the nursery while we’re still open ( the end of September and then by chance or appointment thru October) if you’d like some soft and lustrous wool to knit with. You can also contact us, if you are coming just to purchase yarn. I have been knitting almost daily and so glad to be back at it. Outdoor work continues. We love being in the nursery at this time of year. Of course some of the native plants are going dormant, or have already, but the cool autumn days are a delight to work in, and we enjoy tending to the plants that remain. The hostas still look great, and many late blooming natives continue to put on a show. The vegetable gardens are getting a dose of sheep manure and compost, the beds turned over for next year. But, in the hoop house, things are just at their early beginnings……a new crop of spinach is coming along, mixed greens and lettuces are close to the picking stage, and another bunch of radish are close to being harvested. At the other end of the hoop house, there are still a few tomatoe plants producing and peppers that are waiting to turn red. Still, more food! In the evenings, after the chores for the day are complete, knitting and some spinning become my ‘after hours’ activity.DSC05019