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!

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!

Adlumia fungosa

Adlumia fungosa

A climbing biennial and native that is covering both the arbor and moving it’s way up the check-out building at the moment. Adlumia fungosa ( also called Allegheny vine or Climbing Fumitory) is considered a threatened (or endangered) species here in Maine, as well as in the other New England states. Adlumia is fast growing, easily reaching 15 -20 feet by mid-summer and produces very light pink blossoms that resemble a bleeding heart. We have been growing it here for more than 25 years, it’s seeds are prolific and can remain in the seed bank for years, so every spring we find hundreds of Adlumia seedlings to dig and pot. I love it’s delicate and airy nature, long bloom ( June through September) and ability to cover the arbor in no time at all.
And…who doesn’t like saying, “please come down to the arbor and meet Adlumia fungosa”? Sounds like some exotic and mysterious character in a romance novel, yes?

This Old Dog….

This is Miller. Our big loveable and loyal lab. Miller loves people. He’s our nursery greeter…happy for a pat and a belly scratch. He’ll gladly follow you around as you look over the plants in the nursery rows or as you roam the display beds. When we weed the gardens, he likes to be close, often laying right beside us. When we get up to empty our weed buckets, he’ll follow along. Miller has dedicated himself to being a constant companion. Johnny on the spot. Our very reliable sidekick. This year Miller is showing his age ( he’s 10). He tires more quickly on walks now. He sleeps more soundly than he ever has and he can no longer make the jump into the pick-up by himself. We keep a hay bale nearby so that he can use it as a step up into the truck. He doesn’t mind that his old body can’t leap up into the truck or that he can’t run fast anymore, he’s just always happy to be with us. He has always been our goofy, happy-go-lucky dog. That’s Miller.
This year, however, Miller has decided that he feels uncertain about other dogs coming to the nursery. We’re not sure if it’s because he can’t see as well or if being less able has left him feeling a bit vulnerable. We’ve never allowed visitors to let their dogs out at the nursery, even if they have a leash. It’s just not something we’ve ever felt comfortable with. Now, with Miller getting older and feeling less steady on his feet ( and less mentally alert), we thought it might be a good time remind customers about our dog policy. If you are traveling with your pup in the car and you do come to the nursery, please leave them in the car as you shop or walk around. We have a nice very shady parking spot up near the nursery and with the windows rolled down, it should be quite comfortable. If your dog needs water ( we’ll happily get you some!) or needs to get out and relieve themselves, there are plenty of spots to let your dog out just down the road a piece ( away from the nursery).
We and good Ol’ Miller really appreciate your understanding and consideration, the nursery is certainly a place we want people to feel welcome, but we’re trying to give Miller a sense of comfort as he enters old age. Thank you and we hope to visit with you this summer!

Pesto

Our WWOOF volunteer Lauren helping to plant the last of the winter squash

Our latest WWOOF volunteer( What’s WWOOF? Check it out here) enjoys foraging for wild edibles.This week while weeding the iris bed, she brought in the harvested (weeded) dandelion greens and made a yummy pesto. Along with our nightly side of cultivated greens from the garden, we mixed the dandelion pesto into some fresh spinach tortellini. Delish! Dandelion greens are loaded with vitamins (vitamin C, A, B1, B2, B6 and abundant in vitamin k) and minerals ( calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium). They are a great antioxidant and help to stimulate good kidney and liver function.
Here’s how Lauren ( our WWOOF volunteer) made her pesto:

2 cups of fresh and cleaned dandelion greens
2 1/2 cups of fresh spinach
3-4 cloves of garlic
juice from 1 lemon ( I’d use some grated lemon rind as well!)
1- 1/2 cups of toasted almond slivers
1/2 cup of olive oil
2 Tbls. nutritional yeast

This was all put into the food processor and blended together. It made two 1 pint jars of pesto, which is already gone! We’ve also been smearing dandelion pesto on our mid-day grilled cheese….sharp cheddar, home-made sourdough, our own bread and butter pickles, and sliced avocado. These we put under the broiler until the cheese is bubbling and gooey. I can only say, I sure hope those dandelion weeds that Lauren eradicated bounce back quickly…we’re out of pesto!!
Try some and let us know what you think.

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.

Cool But Growing

Our weather here in Maine continues to be on the cool side. I’m almost afraid to tell you that on a few occasions recently we’ve even made a little fire in the wood cookstove to stave off the chill. I’ve done this wearing, mind you, a wool sweater and wool socks. Oh, my.
The gardens are growing and caring on without a hitch. The nursery rows are continuing to be stocked with new plants. We’ve just set out a large block of Cornus canadense…..beautiful full pots! We’ll say goodbye to May, hello to June, and hope for a little sunshine.
Here are few shots from the gardens…

Cypripedium pubescens

Podyphyllum hexandrum, Peony ‘Little Gem’, Peony japonica

Mertensia virginica ‘alba’

Convallaria ” Fernwood’s Golden Slippers”
Our own introduction

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!

Ladyslippers

Cypripedium pubescens

We’ve just put the Cypripediums( Ladyslippers) into the aisles here at Fernwood…. pinks, whites, and yellows! For those special ladies on Mother’s Day who love you and their gardens? How about a ladyslipper?

Cypripedium ‘Michael’