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

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
wastebasket;
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?”

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.

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.

Christmas Cards

Growing up, as soon as the Christmas cards started showing up in the mailbox, my Mom, after opening them, would tape each and every one along the door trim of our dining area. For the next month, and possibly well into January, there would be a mural on the wall of angels and Christmas trees and giant snowflakes and scenes of snow covered landscapes. And, let us not forget, the cards with flying reindeer, and Santa, and the well dressed snowman with a corncob pipe and a button nose. As a child, I remember peering into the cards as they stuck half-open on the wall and reading (over and over again) the verses and greetings in each one. My sister and brother and I could stand across the room, point to a card and without looking, tell you who the sender was. There were cards from family, friends, my Dad’s work buddies, distant relatives, and even a ‘Christmas Appreciation and Thank You’ card from our little local grocery store, G & J Market.
My Mom sent cards as well and often during the month of December our kitchen table was a sea of envelopes, card boxes, stamps, and address lists. She always bought the assortment box of cards with the clear lid so you could see one example of what you were getting. She shopped at Woolworths for her greeting cards (remember Woolworths?) and if we were lucky and being that we were in the midst of cheery Christmas spirit and all, chances were good that we would have a lunch of grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup ( Campbell’s) at the Woolworth lunch counter. The best! Of course, after Christmas all the boxed cards went on sale and my frugal mom would buy up several boxes. Often, however, they would get stored away and forgotten and we’d end up buying a new assortment just before the holiday the following year. Don’t worry Mom, this is happening to me now! Oh well.
Christmas cards and connecting with folks far and near is a way we can all send a small acknowledgement, a gift of words and a gift of graphics, from our homes and hearts. I truly swoon over Christmas cards and I send many, but I also keep some and simply place them around the house to enjoy the artwork. A small price to pay for art, heh? The growing season here at Fernwood is a busy time that doesn’t leave much opportunity for card sending. Right now, just like the maple dining set in my childhood home, my table is scattered with cards awaiting a few sentences, a wish for holiday cheer and blessings into the New Year.
Tis, the season for such things and it is a Christmas tradition that I can happily partake in! Well, off I go with pen, cards, envelopes, and stamps before the post office closes! Happy Holidays Friends!

The Things We Need, Or Don’t

So very true! We have never been what some may consider “shoppers”.
In fact, I personally dread going into town. During the holidays, it would be very much out of our character to gear up and take part in ‘Black Friday’ or to cruise the internet for ‘Cyber Tuesday’. December is a month for slowing down, for taking long hikes into the woods, for enjoying lengthy chats over tea, for a nightly game of cribbage. It is also, in fairness, the month we will actually send out a few gifts to our family…books for the grandchildren, some nice flannel sheets to the grown up kids, a requested kitchen tool for our daughter in-law. The other parcels will be hand-made…wool socks, baked goodies, linen napkins, hand-crafted tea blends and spice rubs, ointments and salves to keep dry wintry hands and lips soft and moisturized. Every year, because my kids are good and thoughtful kiddos, they ask me what I would like for Christmas. I never have a ‘thing’ I want. More importantly, I want time. I want an experience. I would like memories with them and our grand children to place lovingly on the timeline that seems to be collecting behind me. So, Noah, if you are reading this, here is what I would like from you for Christmas. I would like a whole day with just the two of us ice fishing on some far-reaching pond or lake. I want to make a fire out on the ice so we can cook up a stew and some biscuits and the fish we catch and then linger over it warming our hands and just being so happy to be in one another’s company. O.K? And, Daughter, from you I would like a day in the kitchen with a collection of good chocolate and heavy cream and fresh herbs and spices and any other yummy ingredients we can collect and then throw in to making a scrumptious meal. We’ll whip up some fantastic food and try new recipes and do a lot of taste testing and wear our favorite aprons and we’ll linger over conversation and we’ll laugh and laugh and laugh and take turns putting on our favorite music C.D.’s (which will mostly be your c.d.’s because that is how it rolls with you and music, but I won’t care and will be content listening to your selections). That’s what I want for Christmas from you Zoe, O.K.? And, Daughter in-law, just keep sending me pictures of those two amazing grandchildren and keep calling me to tell me of what new development has occurred or what funny thing Violet has said, or how Zeb continues to look out at the world with a perpetual smile on his face. And call me just to chat and catch up and count on me when you want to have an adult conversation about politics, or velvet furniture, or travel, or any other topic that doesn’t include laundry and sippy cups and lost 2T footwear. You are important and dear to me and I love how our relationship is growing and finding meaning all on its own. And, just so you know, your natural ability to being an absolutely fantastic mother and me bearing witness to this, is a gift every day.
True words, the older I get, the less I want or need in the way of ‘things’. However, for the record, if a bicycle powered washing machine showed up under our Christmas tree , I wouldn’t turn my my nose up at it. ( Noah, my faithful fabricator of all things?).