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!

Primula

We have had springs like this before, cool and wet. The upside of this kind of weather is that the water table is being replenished and this is a blessing. Water is a blessing, yes? Another advantage to the cooler temperatures is that the blooms on the early woodland plants last longer. The chilly days are slowing the growth of many plants and this allows us to enjoy them a bit longer. We’ve had springs that rush towards summer and cause those same plants to come and go much quicker. We never want to rush things!
Visitors to the nursery wander the gardens discovering and enjoying each little delight….a newly opened trillium, a dainty anemonella, or maybe a sweet crinkled leaf primrose. I think the gardens are like an art gallery at the moment. You stroll through, stopping at each exhibit, and ponder.
Here are a few delights on exhibit at the moment….

Trillium cuneatum

Hellebore orientalis and Cardamine glandulosa

Trillium recurvatum

We’re ready!

Sanguinaria canadense Multi-plex

It has been a busy weekend here at Fernwood! On Saturday, we offered our ‘Early Bloomers and Ephemerals’ class. After a talk and slide show, attendees were able to walk the gardens and view the many early woodland and shade plants gracing the gardens at the moment. So nice to share time with eager gardeners wanting to learn more about those garden gems that are first to bloom here in Maine. Great fun!
The hoop house finally got its new skin. After 5 years, the poly needs replacing and we were happy to have another set of hands to help pull the plastic over and secure it. Thanks, Charles!! It’s looking pretty snazzy…like a kid in their new summer kicks!
We continue to pot up plants for the season, the nursery is well stocked with rows of both new and old selections. Opening day here is Wednesday, May 3rd. Our hours are from 9-5. Regular hours through the season will be Wednesday through Sunday. Closed Monday and Tuesday. Visitors can always call or email us for directions and with questions.
It is always exciting (and busy) this time of year. We are putting as many hours into the day as we can fit…”making hay while the sunshines” as they say. Hope to see you this season!
Now, why not a poem…

April Woods: Morning

Birth of color
out of night and the ground.
Luminous the gatherings
of bloodroot
newly risen, green leaf
white flower
in the sun, the dark
grown absent.

by Wendell Berry

Into The Fields

We just moved the sheep onto their summer pasture. The grazing will improve as the days get warmer, but the beginnings of green grass are a welcome sight for our wooly ewes. They will continue to be fed hay and grain until the fields can really sustain them, another 3 weeks or so. Tomorrow is shearing day! Off come their winter coats, their hoofs will be trimmed, and each sheep will get a dose of wormer. Always a big day here at the farm, another task that signifies the coming of spring! If you are a hand spinner looking for a luscious Blueface Leicester fleece to spin, give us a call! I am determined not to keep them all!

The nursery is shaping up….the rows are cleaned and filled with plants for the upcoming season. Some great new additions that we’re really excited about! We open on May 3rd and we are looking forward to seeing customers and talking about gardening!

We hope everyone is enjoying the arrival of warm weather and the promises of a new gardening season. Happy Day to you all!

Easter


This beautiful warm Easter day here at Fernwwod? I’ll make yeast rolls, roast the lamb, saute the asparagus, and I’ll assemble a salad. Oh, and also roast the turnip and the potatoes with plenty of garlic. Dessert will show up with guests. And in between pot stirring and dough kneading?, I’ll go out and scan every inch of the gardens for beauties like these ( which we have propagated in the greenhouse). Happy, happy day to everyone!

Anemonella thalictroides

Let’s Talk Dirt!

Come Learn Some Dirty Words At Fernwood Nursery
Join us at Fernwood Nursery on Sunday, May 21st, from 1:00 to 3:00 to talk about what’s in your dirt! Green sand, blood meal, and mycorrhiza are just a few of the ”dirty” words you’ll hear when we talk about soil here at Fernwood! We’ll discuss soil structure, the essential components for soil health and plant growth, and how to amend your own garden plots using organic materials that are easily sourced. Find out which animal manures do what, learn about the important minerals in your soil, and discover the benefits of green manures,. Interested in making your own potting soil? We’ll talk about this as well and…. you’ll go home with a sample bag of our own homemade potting mix (along with the recipe)!
In addition to a lively discussion about dirt, freshly baked scones and tea will be served.
Here at Fernwood, we are famous for saying “ if you want to grow good plants, grow good soil” so come join us for an informative afternoon of soil talk!
Class size is limited to 10. Please call ahead or email us to sign up. Please visit our classes and more page for more information.

Cornus mas

canstockphoto14578501Cornus mas, also known as cornelian cherry, is a small tree, 15 -25 feet tall, native to Europe and western Asia. Its ornamental value is in the flush of showy yellow flowers in early spring, followed by the bright red edible fruit(cherries) later in the season. Some selections have striking leaves of gold or variegated edges. Older trees also display colorful exfoliating bark of gray and brown. This characteristic is better viewed if the trees lower branches are trimmed up from the ground. The fruit can be used to make jams, sauces, and is also enjoyed by a variety of birds. It is deer tolerant and seldom bothered by pests and other maladies. Hardy to zone 4, full sun to part shade is the preferred siting in a variety of soils that do not dry out. Of the many cultivars available, those with all yellow or heavily variegated foliage, are best grown with more shade to avoid scorching. The fruit shows more brilliantly against a lighter colored leaf. A few cultivars that are grown for heavier fruit production are ‘Elegant’, ‘Pioneer’, and ‘Redstone’. We grow and sell Cornus mas here at the nursery. Because of its spring flowering, attractive foliage, and berries in the fall, it’s an another lovely specimen for the landscape.

Sweetfern

66a075fd0cea6ed74b2391c3d121012eFirst of all, Sweetfern, Comptonia peregrina is not a fern at all, but actually, a shrub that is in the bayberry family. The leaves, which are very aromatic, are fernlike in their appearance. An extremely useful and adaptable native, it can grow in a variety of soils in full sun to part shade. Often, due to its spreading and colonizing habit, it used to stabilize slopes or other disturbed sites. Since it fixes its own nitrogen, is drought tolerant, withstands the wind, and can thrive in poor gravelly soils, it is often used in commercial and municipal projects. But it is also very useful in the home landscape. The deep green foliage is an attractive addition to any design that keeps in mind its ability to spread. Once it attains its mature height of 3′-5′, the plants tend to not get any higher, making a hedge that requires very little pruning. In spring the yellowish green flowers are not striking, but very interesting. These are followed later in the year by small edible nutlets held inside a fuzzy casing. The leaves can be used for a tea and many medicinal applications including, but not limited to, astringents, tonics, and the relief of the effects of poison ivy. This is one very tough native that should be considered more often in the residential landscape. We’ll have plenty of Comptonia here at the nursery this spring. If you are looking for an aromatic native with multiple uses, put this plant on the list! It’s a gem!

Now Is The Time

picture-3923Now is the time we begin putting seed orders together for the vegetable gardens. Now is the time we look at our list of plants in stock for the nursery and we check our notes on all the plants we’ve propagated this past Fall. Yes, we still have some winter out in front of us. All of February, and depending on what kind of season it will be, the month of March as well. However, as we turn the page on the calendar (soon), we really do have the upcoming growing season on our minds. Rick has been very busy sourcing and also propagating some real goodies for the nursery. New plants that are sure to excite customers! I’m excited!

Now is also the time a tiny feeling of panic sets in. Winter never seems quite long enough to get all the things that I’ve wanted to do completed. I need more time for walking in the woods, some more time ice fishing, of course way more time knitting and spinning (and dyeing and felting), and working on that pesky quilt that remains unfinished but in progress, as well as a list of household projects… and if we’d only get a good dumping of snow, more snowshoeing and sledding. Slow down winter! I need more time!picture-3911
The last few days, we’ve all had a nasty cold, but this wasn’t going to keep me from progress. It is impossible for me to lay around without noting some accomplishment at the end of the day. Don’t ask me why this is a problem because I really don’t know the answer. I wasn’t quite up to splitting wood or reshingling the back of the house, but I did organize the cellar, put some time into a pair of socks I’m knitting and made bread. This, along with several cups of ginger tea, made my down days seem less down.picture-3918 Now we all feel better and are expecting a group of friends over tonight for game playing. An evening of sitting around the table with friends, a collection of goodies and drink to keep our spirits up, and a good game, is yet another winter indulgence that we’ll have no time for come summer. Yeah Winter…stay with us! What do you do during these winter months? Do you have some winter indulgences or do you wish it to hurry up and be over? To tell. picture-3925