Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Great Grandma's Fern

Jan. 2011 Before "surgery"
When I was married 26 years ago, I inherited a family heirloom~a fern. My mom gave me a piece of her fern, received from my great grandma, Alice Gustafson Eldred, at her bridal shower in 1957. She still has her fern after 54 years, and has given countless pieces of it away to friends and family. I'm not sure how many are still out there, but mine is going strong.
This was not the case a few months ago. I'm not sure how long ago I divided the fern or even moved it to another container. I do know it had been at least been 13 years, as I've lived in this house that long and have never touched it. Here is the before picture:
May 2011 After "surgery"
I decided it was so overgrown and so unhealthy, that if I didn't do something soon, it would die. It took a long time for me to get up the courage to divide it. I only ripped it apart because I knew Mom still had her fern and I could get a piece of it.  I didn't take during "surgery" pictures, but wish I had. I used a very sharp serrated knife and cut it up into many pieces. The roots only filled 1/2  of the container it was in. The top 1/2 was brown dead fronds. I don't know how it was even alive at this point. There really wasn't much salvageable fern left. All of the green, live part of the fern was growing on top of this old, brown growth.  I took slices of it and buried all the brown part with some roots attached. The container was a 12" hideous white plastic pot. Needless to say, it did not return to that pot. Here is the after "surgery" picture:
Pretty sad, and more of the fronds died after this picture. I was sure I had killed it.  I started thinking that returning it to such a large pot might not have been such a good idea. I watered it very sparingly and used Superthrive in the water with some Jack's Classic 20-20-20 mixed in for good measure. I think there might have been a couple of prayers thrown in.
September 2011
I was pleasantly surprised when  new fronds started appearing. It is looking great now and here is the current picture of my prized fern. As you can see, the interesting thing about this fern, is the fact that it has fronds with regular Boston fern leaflets and also ones with very finely cut leaflets. Sometimes they are even on the same frond. Its very unusual and I'm not really sure of the cultivar name. It is a beautiful fern and I'm so glad to have something that has been in our family for so long.

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