Mid August (almost)

Thalictrum rochebrunianum

Here it is mid-August! Jeepers! It is at this time of year my insides begin to feel’ revved’ up. Lists and lists of things to do and accomplish before the snow flies. So much still to do in the nursery!

Helianthus divaricatus

Tons of propagation for next year; cuttings, gathering and sowing seed, divisions. A walk around the display beds every day to check for seed that’s ripe. Investigating the woody material for the timing of cuttings. We are beginning to see the natural decline of a few plants in the woodland garden, the herbaceous growth fading away, most of their energy going into just root growth now.

Anemone vitifolia


Don’t get me wrong, the landscape is lush with growth. A jungle of vines and stems and blooms that we manage to maintain.

Clematis heracleifolia

The vegetable gardens overflowing with food, all to be brought in and transformed into lunch or supper, the excess canned or frozen or dried. Right now (surprise, surprise!) we are hauling in that every season’s bounty of zucchini. Zucchini parmesan, zucchini bread, chocolate zucchini cake, zucchini fritters, a cheesy ham and tomato and zucchini torte. No, I’m not at my wits end with zucchini. I pass on the excess to neighbors before I get to the point of despair and luckily Zoe’s fiance is Italian and has a hearty appetite. One of the reasons we are happy she’s marrying him is because he eats a lot and he’s not at all picky. Such a good and helpul quailty to bring to our table! The tomatoes are ripening, the onions and leeks are looking great, cucumbers are producing in great numbers ( time to make pickles!), swiss chard, broccoli, and kale filling baskets ( soon we’ll be planting a late season crop of these). Sweet and hot peppers, beets, cabbages, and beans, all rolling in.
As I sweep through the gardens picking, gathering, collecting seed, I can’t help but notice the 8 cord of wood that needs splitting and stacking. It won’t be long, you know! We will make time, it will all get done, the cycle of this life now relies on a lifetime of familiar doing. I’ll quiet my inner ‘whirl’ and enjoy one task at a time, one step at a time. A good practice in mindfulness, in staying with the present. Truth be told, I honor this ‘one day at a time, one moment at a time’ philosophy but also know that as a farmer one has to anticipate the days and season ahead. Perhaps balance is a better practice for now. I’ll hone in on mindfulness in February when the snow is 3ft deep and the woodstove is cranking and when there is not much more to do than sit and read a good book!
Enjoy this last season of summer, friends…what is occupying your time in the gardens right now?

Savoring Sweet Summer

Yesterday, after a long hot and muggy day in the gardens, I had to make a quick trip into town. Going to town doesn’t excite me. I prefer my home ground, the bounty of flora that surrounds us, the constant music of our resident feathered flyers. It seems the older I get, the less I want to leave home. Most of what I need is here. Family. Friends. Gardens. Space. Serenity. And of course, plenty of fresh food. Despite my normal inclination to hunker down, there are times I have to muster the courage to venture outside of my self-proclaimed range and head to the ‘big (very little) city’. Sometimes we just need things, (even though we practice stocking up to avoid frequent trips) things like toilet paper and avocados. Things like coffee and extra sharp cheddar cheese and chocolate. Oh, and sometimes we have to make a bank deposit as well. That, too.
I go with a list. I don’t dawdle. I don’t stray from my course. I am on a mission. Grocery. Bank. Hardware store. My intent is to ‘get in and get out’ as quickly as possible. Yesterday, however, I did add an excursion just before heading home. I ran the errands that needed to be done and could have easily pointed the trusty Subaru west toward home, but I thought about summer and the heat and the glorious bodies of water that grace our state. So, I drove a little further east ( a mere mile or so) to my friend’s little parcel of land that sits along ‘Head Of Tide’ and went for a swim. This is where the salt water flows in and meets the Passagassawakeag River. During high tide, one can slip easily into the salty water, float with the current and enjoy the cooler temperatures of the oceans influence, and then paddle up the to the freshwater flowing in from the Passy. Divine. So, there I was, submerged in that cool and refreshing body of water, happy for my trip to town, savoring the sweetness of summer.
Sundays are good days for a little poetry, yes? A poem about swimming, enjoy and go for a swim!

When the day becomes hot and hazy
And I become tired and lazy,
All I can do is keep on reneging,
For the vast lawn needs mowing,
And the vegetable garden needs hoeing,
And work must come before swimming.

It seems that the grass has grown taller
And I get an immediate urge to holler.
Why can’t I forget this awful dreaming,
That I was always on the brink of sneezing,
And constantly plagued with episodes of wheezing,
Until soothing in the water with ease in breathing?

The sun seems to quiver and know
As I think of the old swimming hole,
I rest my aching body and keep reneging,
Of course my work I am not shirking,
But it’s just too hot and humid for working,
It’s about time to sneak out and go swimming.

I notice the sun in the azure sky beaming
And again I catch myself dreaming,
As the perspiration continues dripping,
But my tasks have me outsmarted,
And I plod along slowly and half – hearted,
Thinking of the old gang going dipping.

I face reality and refrain from dreaming
And seek relief from the humidity with meaning,
And go to the swimming hole that is brimming.
Life is too short to constantly worry,
So why should I continue to be in a hurry?
It’s summer and a time for swimming.
A Time For Swimming
Joseph T. Renaldi

Lakes And Ponds And Little Swimmers

We have two adoptive grandchildren here visiting for a month. They are 6 and 7 and live in Jacksonville, North Carolina, a place undoubtedly hot and way more congested than our little town here in Maine boasting a mere 1000 residents. What a joy to have these two little spirits around! They are lovely and chatty and interested in all the goings on here at the farm and nursery. What a gift to be able to leave the pavement and noise and busyness of their neighborhood back home to enjoy the quiet woods, the lush gardens, and the lakes and ponds. Oh, the lakes and ponds! Not quite accomplished swimmers when they came, but, oh, so wanting to be little fish confident and frolicking in the cool waters of Maine! Both had never swum in a natural body of water (can you imagine?), so Rick and I have made it our business to take them swimming as often as possible. Of course, the weather has been quite conducive to swimming! They have both gone from carefully wading into the water up to their skinny little knees to launching off of Rick’s back to perform the ‘all kid’s abandoned delight” of cannonballs. Again, and again, and again. How proud they both are! They emerge from the shallows,”We can swim underwater”! Hooray!
We are so very, very lucky to have such water abundance here in Maine. A true blessing. A resource we must honor and protect. Where would one be if we didn’t have a natural pool of water to cannonball into?
Kate Barnes wrote a fun poem about (a few) of the lakes and ponds here in Maine, I’ll share it with you now…

Lakes And Ponds: Some Blue Spots On The Maine Highway Map

There’s Blunder Pond and Bluffer Pond,
Molasses Pond and Bean;
There’s Scraggly Lake and Ragged Lake; there’s Silver,
Clear, and Green;
Bear Pond, Caribou, Beaver, Mink; Moose Pond and
Eagle Lake,
White Horse Lake and Spider Lake, Panther Pond, and Snake;
Hound and Otter, Togue and Salmon, Loon, and
Swan, and Duck.
There’s Hot Brook Lake and Cold Stream Pond;
There’s White Pond and there’s Black;
Lobster Lake and Bean Pot Lake; Shin Pond for a stew;
( Toddy Pond will make you cheerful, Brandy Pond will too,)
Hay Lake, Harrow Lake, Chain Of Ponds; Buttermilk and Mud;
White Oak, Cedar, Seven Tree, Elm, Mill Pond,
Meadow, Flood;
Meddybemps and Pocomoonshine; Simsquish, Skitacook,
Syslododsis, Nahinakanta, UghLake and Ticook;
Indian Pond and Soldier Pond, Polly Pond and Jim;
Round Pond, Square Lake, Corner Pond;
Cut Lake and Old Stream;
Endless Lake and Desolation, St. Froid in the snow;
Flying Pond and The Enchanted, it’s haunted stream below;
Blue spots on the road map with their blue names printed by,
Many words for “water,” many eyes that see the sky.

Poem by Kate Barnes

Classes Coming Up!

These two classes are coming up soon. Let us know if you like to attend by emailing us at fernwoodnursery@fairpoint.net calling (207)589-4726. Also, the ladyslippers are potted up and ready to find new homes! Happy gardening, everyone!

Come Learn Some Dirty Words At Fernwood Nursery
Join us at Fernwood Nursery on Sunday, May 20th, 2018 from 2:00 to 4:00 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 (207)589-4726 or email us to sign up at fernwoodnursery@fairpoint.net Class cost is $30.00 Pre-payment is required.

Cypripedium pubescens

Cypripediums: The Life Of Ladyslippers, Unlock The Mystery
Sunday, June 10th, 2018 from 2:00 to 4:00 $30:00 Pre-registration required, space limited

Spend an afternoon here at Fernwood learning about the growing, propagating, and care of those coveted and elusive ladyslippers. Unlock a bit of their mystery, enjoy tea and scones in the studio, and view the many ladyslippers that grace the gardens here at Fernwood. Potted Cypripediums available for sale as well! Email fernwoodnursery@fairpoint.net or call (207)589-4726

Morning Fog On Mother’s Day

Not just the two darling children I am a mother to, but the delightful flock of sheep I tend. This morning it was coffee and fog and a walk down to the lower pasture. I look a little foggy myself! Must be those early mornings and long days catching up with me!
What a beautiful morning and a great start to the day. And now, I must go and eat some scrambled eggs and home-cured bacon with my family. Happy, Happy Mother’s Day!!

Tears? Holes? Split Seams?

Two years ago, I met a fine young woman in the village of Liberty who has a passion for textiles. Maya is an accomplished designer, seamstress, printer, and maker of all kinds of things.Oh, the talent! I really appreciate Mia’s eye for detail and her style. She also has a deep affinity for breathing new life into old objects, particularly garments. Whether it be a battered civil war jacket or an old flannel shirt from her sweeties closet, Maya will mend it with precision and make it lovely once again.
I asked Maya if she’d come teach a mending class here in the studio. “Of course”, she said, “I’d love to”!
So, on Sunday, April 22nd from 1:00-3:00, Maya will be here at Fernwood for an afternoon of sewing instruction. If interested, bring along a project that needs mending and learn both sashiko and traditional darning methods. All of the materials and instruction will be provided…and, as with all classes here at Fernwood, tea and scones will be served.
Class size is limited, so please sign up in advance. You can visit our classes and more page for additional information or email us here at the nursery: fernwoodnursery@fairpoint.net.
Come join us! Afterall, it’s Earth Day, what better day to upcycle or recycle a favorite piece of clothing!!

The Month Of April At Fernwood Nursery

It doesn’t matter that after a long day of potting in the greenhouse we sat with cups of tea and looked out at this…We are confident that any emerging plants are hearty enough to weather a little snow falling on them. The ground is warming and many plants are now able to utilize the water that’s being absorbed into the ground. This snow will melt quickly and provide some extra moisture for their new and rapid growth. No worries. It is the potential frigid temperatures we worry about, especially after new growth has started.
As you can tell, our pup Lucky finds that the greenhouse (at 88 degrees) is the perfect place for an afternoon nap. I must admit, that deep warmth does feel awfully good! Some early greens are on hold for just a bit longer before being transplanted into the hoop house. Of course, my favorite early green, tatsoi, will be the first to sink its roots into the warm hoop house soil. I wrote a post about tatsoi last year and you can read about it here if you would like. I can’t wait to be harvesting our very first bunches of this nutrient-rich green. The best!

tatsoi


The onions are coming along and the peppers and tomatoes are developing their first ‘true’ leaves which will provide them with an ability to photosynthesize. As many of you know, the first little leaves to appear are cotyledons or ‘seed leaves’. These are actually part of the seed and they provide a food source for the sprouting seedling.
During this time of year, we use the greenhouse for potting some of the plants that will go into the nursery this season, for sowing seeds that have been in winter storage, and for starting vegetable seedlings. It’s filling fast! Its a precarious time of year. The snow may fall, we are still walking planks that we’ve set down along the paths to the woodshed and the studio to keep from sinking into mud, and on some days all of the windows and doors in the greenhouse must be opened to keep it from getting too hot! April really does have a flavor of at least two seasons mixed into one month! We are so looking forward to our doors opening in the first of May… yet another nursery season! So many great plant selections, old and new. Some great classes scheduled (check here) and some in the works and waiting to be posted. A really fun and skilled based class on mending clothes is scheduled for April 22nd. A fine young textile artist will be on site to teach both traditional and sashiko mending methods. I’ll post this class in the upcoming week! Until then, enjoy this lovely (and somewhat unpredictable) April!

Join Us For a Brew And A Film At Threshers!

On Saturday, April 7th at 7:00p.m. we will be gathering over at Thresher’s Brewery in Searsmont, Maine for the showing of SEED, The Untold Story. First, let me tell you a little about Threshers Brewery. Threshers, owned and operated by Ethan Evangelos and Scott Bendson, opened its doors in 2016 at the old Sprowl building in Searsmont, Maine.You can read about Ethan and Scott’s story here! For us, it has been a welcomed addition to the community. Here’s why… It’s close by. They have a variety of excellent well-crafted beer (really, these boys know what they’re doing!). The atmosphere is welcoming, easy-going, and friendly. And, they are very community minded. We have been to several benefits and events at Threshers that have helped worthy organizations. In two short years, they have opened their doors many, many times to host events that directly help the community at large. Bravo to Ethan and Scott and their families for being so involved! We appreciate it. We need venues that encourage gathering, socializing with neighbors and friends, and who offer their space for community functions.

We never know who we’ll meet at Threshers, it could be an old time friend in the local community or a traveler who’s heard about their great beer and great events and mosied up to check it out. Always interesting and great conversation, that’s for sure!
We had been talking with Ethan over the last year about showing the film, SEED The Untold Story at the brewery. It’s a film anyone who grows food…anyone who EATS food should watch. When it was first produced ( two years ago?), we here at Fernwood made concerted efforts to promote it and it’s message. We had been contacted by their staff, given a synopsis of the film, and were asked to do our best to get the word out. SEED is an amazing film, beautiful cinematography and it will surely open your eyes to what’s happening with our seed diversity and its impact on our food supply.. It is truly one of our favorite films and we cannot say enough about the effort that has been put into the making of it. Please join us at Thresher’s Brewery (you won’t be disappointed!) and enjoy a free film. By the way, I recommend trying the ‘Ponderosa’ beer (my favorite) at Threshers! See you there! For more information please visit the Threshers Brewery facebook page here.

Tree Climbing

We recently had to hire an arborist to take a couple of old trees down. Normally, we cut and harvest our own trees but these two trees were in a precarious situation. Both the trees were in among the display beds, and, in addition, had the potential of hitting the power line. Underneath the trees were a variety of shrubs and perennials that were easy targets for falling limbs…azaleas, Japanese maples, a few viburnums, a dogwood. We really didn’t want to do any damage while trying to fell these trees, so, we called Treewise Arboriculture from Appleton, Maine. Jacob DiGirolamo is the very talented and skilled arborist behind Treewise, and let me just tell you, he’s a man skilled in his craft. In a short amount of time, Jacob had the trees down, bit by bit, never once laying a single branch on one of our beloved woody shrubs. Of course, he also missed (with great precision) the house, the arbor, the phone and electrical wires, and a few choice garden sculptures. Just imagine a pinball machine that requires the operator to send their pinball up the course without hitting a single obstacle and with the intention of scoring as high as possible. I’d say he scored pretty damn near 100! Jacob came and stood to look up and access the task at hand, then strapped on his climbing spikes and got to work. It was fascinating to watch him make his cuts and then to use his ropes and knots to lower branches and pieces of the trunk to the ground. Amazing. We can’t say enough about Treewise and Jacob’s efficiency and attention to his craft.His business also includes pruning, removal, and planting. If you have trees that need to come down and you are looking for a congenial young man who is well skilled and devoted to his work, call Jacob. You can find out more by emailing Treewise at rainisalwaysgood@gmail.com or visit this site at Maine Preservation.

Still Winter

With the last storm, we have been taking advantage of the deep snow and of the days when the sun shines with a brilliance. It has been a great time for strapping on the snowshoes and exploring the woods. Two days ago, we tramped up over the ridge across from the farm. It was late in the day and the deer were just descending from the high ground. We counted 10 in a relatively short time. There were tracks everywhere! We came across many places where the ground had been pawed, signs that the deer are digging their way through the deep snow in search of acorns. A Barred owl swooped through just in front of us and landed on the branches of a giant oak tree. Now is the time we hear them calling back and forth to each other with their classic ” who cooks for you, who cooks for you” call. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NtRPYpklhiA Listen here if you’ve never heard the call of the Barred Owl. They do have other calls as well but this is their typical mating call. Very distinct and one we hear often in the woods of Maine. We are hoping that we get a chance this weekend to head into the woods or trek across the lower fields at the farm. I suppose it’s what we need to do when any thoughts of spring have been put on halt. Spring will come, I believe it will, really I do. But for now, it’s still winter.
Let’s end with a poem about winter and snowshoeing by Sidney Beck…

BEFORE SPRING COMES

This valley’s empty blueness
Is filling now with clear sunlight.
Snow clumps tumble from branches
Into man-deep drifts soft bright –
Warmth-rounded, but still chilled.

Big snowshoe-footprints harden
Into pools of blue shadow –
Setting off from a house and garden,
Half-hidden, marked only by the low
Recent prints half-filled.
by Sidney Beck