Even Granddaughters Grow Old

Fern III with the Winter Blahs

It’s been close to ten years since I’ve “reported” on the status of Fern III — the  Deer Foot Fern (or Davallia to be more exact) who sits on a table in the bay window of our bedroom.  Right now she seems to be going through a case of the winter blahs — commiserating with us during this Sheltering Time, I think.  Perhaps it’s time for another “haircut” — an event that always seems harder on me than on her.

I’ve been reminding her of her heritage and how it is that she has been here with us for the last fifteen-or-so years.  I can’t go back to her very beginnings, there being no ancestry.com for ferns, but I can go back three generations. Her grandmother lived in the Ocean Park Timberland Library during the 1980s.  I often stopped to talk with her, marveling at her fury feet (rhizomes, I was told) that crept over the edge of the big pot she sat in.

Fern After A Haircut, 2015

One day, Sue Cowell, who worked at the library, asked me if I’d like a cutting.  She and Librarian Bonnie Sayce were transplanting Fern to a bigger pot that afternoon.  Fern II was sort of puny by comparison to her mother, but she liked it at our house on the bay and she soon filled out and needed to be transplanted herself. Visitors to the house often referred to her as a Rabbit or Hare Foot Fern or even a Squirrel Foot Foot Fern.  Apparently the color of the rhizomes of a particular plant determine the animal it is associated — white, for instance, with Rabbit or Peter Cottontail.

Fern II lived with us for almost twenty years and, by the time we sold the house to Ann Chiller, she was much too big to move.  Besides, she and the house seemed perfect for each other and we didn’t want to break up such a happy relationship.  So Ann inherited the plant.

In 2007 or 2008 Ann, in her turn, sold the house.  Before she moved she brought us a present — a small cutting from Fern II.  And so Fern III began her sojourn in Oysterville.  Even here in our bedroom, she is surrounded by books which must resonate in some primordial fashion, hearkening back to the library of her grandmother’s time.  She has outgrown several pots and has flourished, even with my somewhat haphazard care.

Fern III in 2011

I’m not sure where Fern’s forebears are these days.  The last I heard, Karen Pennington wrote that she had Fern II.  That was back in 2011.  Perhaps someone will write in response to this update and tell us a bit more — especially about Fern III’s grandmother who I met so long ago at the Library.  It’s hard to believe that Granddaughter Fern, herself, is forty-some years old — if you count the years since her mother left Fern I.  Wow!


2 Responses to “Even Granddaughters Grow Old”

  1. Cyndy Hayward says:

    Oh, my gosh. I have Deer Foot Fern II! I have loved this plant. The only indoor plant that I have. I have no clue about care, except I daily empty into the pot whatever water is remaining in my bathroom glass after taking pills in the morning. Sydney, I can’t figure out how to paste into this blog space a picture I just took. I will email it to you.

  2. sydney says:

    Woot! Woot!
    I think I got her about 1980, Do you have all of her or has she been divided? She was quite large (actually huge) when I left her for Ann.
    No real tips about care. I am THE worst plant person ever. (As Nyel says, Fern III thrives on neglect.) It used to be that we’d decorate for Christmas in early December and replace Fern with a Poinsettia for the season. Fern would be put in out “work room” next to the garage which is absolutely dark (no windows) and she would droop and decline. When Christmas was “done,” Nyel would go and give her a severe haircut and then we’d water her well and put her back on her bay-window table. And back she’d come, fat and sassy! This year, we may be skipping the Poinsettia routine so we’ll see how she does. The only other “care” I give her is to put her under the spigot in the bathtub and let it run for a few minutes. I do it whenever it occurs to me — probably five or six times a year. And that’s it!
    I’m so glad Fern’s mother is well and nearby! I think I’ll share that information with Fern. It may perk her up a bit!
    Cheers, Sydney

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