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Return of the Ferns

I was reminded this week just how quickly my heart runs to sorrow, how easily it forsakes hope.

Last year, while reclaiming the neighbor’s yard, we collected the ferns that were tucked here and there in the yard and transplanted them to the north side of our barn. I love ferns. They remind me of the north side of the house where I grew up, where it was always cool and shady even on the hottest days of summer. However, I’ve never been particularly successful at growing them myself. I’ve tried buying sets from growers and from catalogs. I’ve been given baskets full of ferns from gardeners with too many. None have thrived. To be honest, none have lived.

When we started transplanting the ferns we hadn’t done much to develop the soil in that part of the yard. In fact, the dirt was very sandy, still the mix that the builders had back-filled and hence was better suited to support a cement foundation than for supporting life, especially a fern. We did what we could to keep them moist. We mulched them heavily with leaves to mimic a forest floor. And hoped for the best.

I checked the area repeatedly this spring with no sign whatsoever of the ferns. I was quite disheartened but not surprised. Another failure fit in pretty well with the story I already told myself about how I was unable to grow ferns.

Except Saturday, after a week of rain and warm spring days, the north side of the barn was filled with ferns. They had all shot up a good six to eight inches, their tips uncurling in the process of getting even taller. We’d planted them in a fairly regular grid to avoid planting them too closely and nearly all of the grid was coming up.

I hadn’t failed; I’d just looked too soon for success.

Posted in • Sitting Still.

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