Chilly And Drizzly

Erythronium sibiricum

It has continued to be rather chilly and drizzly here in the northeast. Customers are coming to the nursery and commenting on how squishy their gardens are and for some this means a slight halt to any spring planting. There is certainly some wet areas in our own gardens, but we are still enjoying the blooms of early varieties. The coolness is helping to preserve their blooms and we are delighted by the extended show they are offering.
I’ll post some photos and move along to the outdoor activities that are calling, it’s 5:30 a.m and there’s a full day ahead, best get started! We are still potting up plants for the sales area, continuing to label any new varieties of plants (some real beauties!), sowing seeds in the garden and tending the seedlings in the greenhouse.

Trillium cuneatum

Peony ‘Little Red Gem’

What’s happening in your garden at the moment? Do you feel stalled by the weather? Is it squishy underfoot? What’s blooming?
In a strange way, I actually appreciate that the weather and conditions are present to ‘rein’ me in. I am reminded to work along and beside the natural world I am so privileged to bear witness to. I can engage with it but on her terms and at her pace. When I am impatient, the earth gently waggles her finger at me and says ” I’ll get there when I get there, stop hurrying me”. Thank you dear buds and blooms and shoots and seeds, thank you for reminding me to be still, to wait, to work with and not against. A good blessing for the day!

Allium tricoccum

Sanguinaria canadensis


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

Opening Thursday, May 3rd!

Welcome! We’ll be open for the season on Thursday, May 3rd. Every day we are busy stocking the nursery aisles and potting plants, so much to do!
In addition, the sheep have been sheared and the vegetable gardens are underway.

Erythronium dens-canis

Spring is a fury of activity, for sure! The display gardens are bursting with early woodland plants and natives, pure delight! Happy gardening season to all and we’ll see you soon!

Sanguinaria canadense ‘Snow Cone’


Picture 2634While working out in the display gardens, I can’t stop gawking at this double bloodroot(Sanguinaria canadense f. Multiplex). Its double flowers are a result of a naturally occurring mutation. Instead of having pistol or stamens, these parts are replaced by flower petals. Because of this, the plant is sterile and will not set seed.The plus side is that the blooms hold longer without this plant’s energy going into seed production.Picture 2638The blooms of single flowering bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadense) often only last for a few days.
Bloodroot, in general, is a good plant choice for areas with tree root competition. It can tolerate drier soils and it’s bright white flowers really create a statement in the early woodland garden. Bloodroot is a North American native perennial found growing in shaded, moist, well-drained ( or dry) woodlands. Bloodroot grows to about 6 to 7 inches tall. It’s light green, palmate, lobed, basal leaf is wrapped around the flower as it emerges and opens as the flowers blooms. The stem of Bloodroot is often reddish when mature and topped by a single white flower consisting of 8 to 12 petals ( unless it’s the double form), with a bright golden center. Bloodroot gets its name from the plants thick root tuber.These thick but tender roots contain a red juice that can stain your skin. Bloodroot has been used medicinally, though with a very careful application and in small doses. As an expectorant and respiratory stimulant, it has been used to treat bronchial problems and severe throat infections. A poultice of bloodroot can be used to treat skin disease, warts, tumors, ringworm, and will even act as an insect repellent. However, bloodroot should be considered toxic and not edible, an overdose in its application can be fatal.Not a plant one should feel at ease going out to harvest and use as a medicinal unless very skillful in preparing (and applying) herbal or homeopathic remedies.
Perhaps it’s just better to enjoy this plants wonderful visual attributes…you won’t be disappointed.Picture 2637


Sanguinaria canadensis f. 'Multiplex'

Sanguinaria canadensis f. ‘Multiplex’

Bloodroot ( Sanginaria canadensis) is native to most of the eastern US. It prefers undisturbed wooded areas that are moist to dry, never wet, in part to full shade. Its ability to grow in dryer areas and compete with tree roots makes it a good choice in the landscape when dealing with maples and other trees that can take over a garden with their own roots. In early spring the leaves emerge clasping the flower stalk which soon opens to a white flower with a yellow center. As the flower opens, the leaves, that can be 6” across, open as well. The leaves are a light green to almost glaucous green, formed in a kidney shape that often have interesting indentions along the margin. The bloom period is short, with the flowers falling off within a couple of days of being fertilized. The double form, Sanguinaria canadensis f. ‘Multiplex’ blooms much longer since it is basically sterile and does not set seed. Although bloom time is short, a patch of bloodroot in full flower is a very impressive sight. We have both forms growing here at the nursery, and it just wouldn’t be spring without them.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA If you plant it, you might find that it pops up in areas away from the original plants. This is due to ants that harvest the seed for the fleshy elaiosome that is attached to it. The ants can then carry the seed a considerable distance away from the original plant. The elaiosome, which they eat, is high in lipids and proteins. The seeds are discarded by the ants, and then germinate, spreading the plant around the garden or woodland. Seeds of certain species of plants produce elaiosome specifically to attract ants and other insects to encourage seed dispersal. While we enjoy the beauty of our plants, this arrangement is a design we find both intriguing and amazing.

Bloodroot gets its name from the color of the sap that flows from the root, should it be broken or scraped. The sap is poisonous and can be a skin irritant to some people. It was used by Native Americans as a red dye and also for some medicinal uses (however, ingestion of the plant is not recommended). Further research will give you a lot of information on both the historical, medicinal, and present uses of bloodroot.
Here at Fernwood we enjoy bloodroots early bloom and sharp white flowers that really stand out when the gardens are just getting going. We grow both single and double bloodroot, but only have Sanguinaria canadensis for sale at the moment. Patches of bloodroot are an attractive addition to the woodland landscape and remember to be thankful for those helpful and industrious ants!