The Traveling Fern


DSC_0252 - CopyIn 1978 I bought an asparagus fern for a $1 at a nursery in Napa, California. The photos taken this week attest to the fact that this fern is still alive in my backyard. Here are some highlights of this plant’s journey.

In the early years it grew in a hanging basket before ending up in the first of five pots. I transplanted it each time it became root bound. The last time I transplanted it, about eight years ago, the pot was 90 percent roots. It’s also lived in six different yards.

In the early 1990s I brought it inside during the holidays and decorated it as a Christmas tree. But the indoor heat dried the fern too much, leaving a thick mat of needles on the wood floor. Outside it barely survived numerous freezes.DSC_0255

The last time I moved it, three he-men and an appliance dolly were required. I finally put it in a giant pot where it will have to remain for the duration. It is too heavy to move, in fact, the ground under has given away slightly so the pot is titled. And some of the fronds are brown from last year’s deep freeze. Currently, it is about 70 percent of its greatest size—in 2005 the fronds were 6-feet high and are now down to four feet. It sits in filtered sun most of the day and is making a nice comeback this summer. I expect this fern is ready to outlive me.

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