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Hope's Corner: A Fondness of Ferns

"As the summer wore on and on, I was eager for fall. I am not a hot weather person. The asparagus fern, however, was absolutely a fan of summer," writes Jackie Hope.

Jackie Hope BW.jpg
Jackie Hope is the longest running Dickinson Press contributor and columnist. Hope's Corner is a weekly humorous column with a message of hope.
Contributed / For The Dickinson Press
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On an early autumn day, many years ago, my daddy brought me a scruffy asparagus fern in a small pot. He said, “I could not get this plant to do anything this summer. See what you can do with it.”

That fall and winter I kept the plant near the patio door. It got lots of sunshine. It also got lots of cold air as multiple dogs went in and out, then out and in.

The following spring we lost my dad, but his asparagus fern was looking chipper. I thought the fern might like a bigger pot, so I up-sized and put it on the front porch. The fern started reaching out long fronds that did, indeed, look like asparagus spears.

As the summer wore on and on, I was eager for fall. I am not a hot weather person. The asparagus fern, however, was absolutely a fan of summer. It kept growing new fronds, drinking all the water that was available, and storing moisture in bulb-like thingies amongst its roots.

When I dug it up in the fall for re-potting, I wondered if I had a potato fern instead of an asparagus fern. There were beaucoup bulbs throughout the dirt, all connected to the fern’s root system. It turns out that those things are for storing nutrients and water, so the asparagus fern can withstand drought and neglect.

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Now, I am not saying I was neglecting the fern, but it did have the healthiest crop of storage bubs any of my plant-loving friends had ever seen. There was talk of a plant intervention. Fortunately for me, the fern was heading into winter dormancy, so it would thrive on neglect until the next March or April.

Time passed. Summers came, the fern grew. Winters came, the fern slept in the kitchen.

The pots for the fern had become increasingly bigger. It still had a bumper crop of water storage bulbs. But I had learned not to tell anyone about them, fearing the ever-present threat of an asparagus intervention.

One winter the plant was just too big for the kitchen, so it was moved to the bedroom window. Come spring, it had shot up new fronds that wove themselves into the lace curtain. The curtain was asparagus green, so how were we to know that the fern was trying to escape out the window?

This is the asparagus fern’s twenty-fifth fall with us. It is on a tall stand, and its fronds reach to the floor. It winters beside a thirty-year-old corn plant that has reached the ceiling and is bending sideways toward the ceiling light.

Some winters the asparagus fronds wrap around the corn plant. If the corn plant reaches that ceiling light while the fern fronds are attached, there’s a chance, when we flip on the light switch, that the electric current could pop all those water storage bulbs.

Jackie Hope is the longest running Dickinson Press contributor and columnist. "Hope's Corner" is a weekly humorous column centered on a message of hope for residents in southwest North Dakota.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Dickinson Press, nor Forum ownership.

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