This little gem has been catching the eyes of customers while wandering through the nursery here at Fernwood. Linnaea borealis (commonly known as Twinflower) is a sweet little Maine native that often goes unnoticed in the woodland, except for when it is in flower. A small trailing ground cover with glossy evergreen leaves and dainty bell-shaped pink and white flowers, it surprises people with its sweet all-spicey fragrance. The nodding twin flowers are held on an erect stem about 3-4 inches above their (also twin) leaves. Sometimes the smallest and less obvious plants can be the most delightful ones to happen upon!
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!
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
about my life
tonight. The house
is like an overturned
is predicting more snow.
I ask my dog
to tell me
a story, and he
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?”
Be well friends and please be safe and kind to yourselves and to others and to our big green world. See you soon!
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.
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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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!
Here at home, the firewood is all in, the hay is put away in the loft, the freezers are full, and the nursery rows are tucked in for their winter slumber. Whew! A list of off season projects await our attention, some repairs around the house, a new outdoor summer kitchen (we built an outdoor wood fired bread oven!), and, of course, some crafting.
Thank you for checking in and continuing to read news and stories from Fernwood. I suppose there are just times we have to step away from the screen and give our cyper input a rest. Because the nursery and farm world at Fernwood so often involves physical engagement, I think switching my brain over to work on the computer can be challenging. I have had my rest, now back to it!
Stay tuned and it’s nice to be back! Happy fall, all!