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.

With Hopeful Intention

Helleborus thibetanus

We are here tucked in and staying isolated, no great feat for two very happy homebodies. Truth be told, we have not left the nursery or had anyone on the property for a full three weeks! Of course, much of this has to do with the dreaded virus and wanting to stay healthy and keep others healthy. If the nursery itself is isolated from visitors for an extended period of time, then we can be certain that we are a comfortable and reassuring place to visit come May. We are anticipating a May opening ( and will announce our ‘opening day’ here on the blog and our phone message (207) 589-4726, as we always do… and Instagram!), and if following guidelines, we are considered an essential business. We will do all that we can to bring comfort to visitors coming to Fernwood Nursery to buy plants. By the first week of May, with the effort of all people doing their best to stay distanced and healthy, we will open our gate and sell plants. Perhaps we will limit the number of people walking the aisle at one time. We will write up some careful and helpful guidelines that may also bring comfort and reassurance while shopping…gloves, keeping distance, not handling pots and placing them back into rows, bringing your own boxes for carrying plants out. These are a few thoughts and we welcome any of yours. Suggestions? Let’s hear them! If you are uncomfortable shopping while others are here, you can call ahead with a list of plants you would like to purchase and we will have them ready for you. Feel free to email us with questions and availability. The list is long and we will do our best to spend time on the phone or through email giving you our best suggestions and descriptions. Also, you can call and make an appointment for a private visit here at the nursery. Again, we will do all that we can to keep our gardening friends happy and safe. As we move closer to the month of May, we will certainly know better the circumstances around ‘getting out and about’ to shop for plants! Let’s stay posted, shall we?
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: fernwoodnursery@fairpoint.net

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.

Back!

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Where did I go? To Romania and then to Ireland. Then, I’m afraid the work which was put on the back burner while I was dashing around visiting other countries became urgent and I am just now picking my head up and returning to blogging. Oh, where to start! My plan is to write a really long piece about my trip to Romania. It was so beyond my expectations and I learned so much about their history and became so enchanted with their farming practices. I am still processing all that I experienced, the interactions I had with farmers and craftsman, and the incredible beauty of the Romanian landscape. Those Carpathian mountains! The region of Transylvania! The old world architecture in the cities and the beautiful workmanship I witnessed in every little village! 20% of Romania’s agricultural area is considered subsistence farming. It is a country that still makes use of traditional and grassroots farming practices. Stunning, every bit was stunning. So, now with winter fast on our heels, I am hoping my days will allow some time to reflect and to write about my journey. Stay tuned will you? And, apologies for my sudden absence.
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!

The Time For Seeds

Picture 109Picture 104In the spring we enjoy the wonderful blooms of the woodland peonies. In the fall, we are amazed by the brilliance of their seeds and seed pods. As we collect seed from the many woodland plants we grow here at Fernwood, we find the diversity of color and texture of the seeds to be quite remarkable, each plant having its own design. Nature……truly amazing and always full of wonder.Picture 137Picture 147Picture 151

Hello Friends

Epimedium

It feels like this blog continues to be put on the back burner. Not finding the time to sit and craft a post and catch up with readers gnaws at me while I scurry around outside potting plants, weeding the display beds, and planting the vegetable gardens. The rain, which is always welcome in our world, has put some time constraints on our activity. We are hearing from customers that their own gardens are late in emerging, some beds too soggy to plant or work in, the cold temps and rain slowing the process. Regardless of the coolness or damp conditions, the nursery is full, customers are rolling in to purchase plants, and we are busy, busy. In the early evening when we finally roll indoors, I am very ready for a quick meal (and a glass of wine, yes, perhaps this too!) and then off to bed we go without ever even considering that I could muster the energy to write something worth reading. So, please forgive me while I step aside to toil in the gardens, I’ll be here and post when I can actually sit and share more than a quick ‘hello’. I’m not disappearing, just preoccupied with the ‘doing’ of other activities at the moment. I hope you are doing well and that your gardens are flourishing. Whew! Time…that elusive reality!
I recently read and liked this poem from Mary Oliver’s collection. Worrying is a skill I’ve seemed to have mastered rather well. So, I’ll share it with you, here it goes, enjoy!

“I Worried”

I worried a lot. Will the garden grow, will the rivers
flow in the right direction, will the earth turn
as it was taught, and if not how shall
I correct it?

Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven,
can I do better?

Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows
can do it and I am, well,
hopeless.

Is my eyesight fading or am I just imagining it,
am I going to get rheumatism,
lockjaw, dementia?

Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing.
And gave it up. And took my old body
and went out into the morning,
and sang.”

― Mary Oliver, Swan: Poems and Prose Poems