I just spent two weeks in western Washington visiting my daughter and her family—two weeks of giggles, bedtime stories, and stomping in the puddles left by Seattle’s incessant rain. While my focus was on our granddaughters, I couldn’t help but feast my soul on all the green—in mid-winter! Broadleaf evergreens such as rhododendrons, still-verdant lawns, even the emerald moss on the roof were all a welcome respite from Colorado’s winter browns. The only problem was that I had to get wet to enjoy it all. That’s why we planned a visit to the Volunteer Park Conservatory, located on Capitol Hill in Seattle.
“There’s something wrong with my fern! It has dots all over the leaves. It must be some sort of disease! What should I spray it with?”
I was sitting at our county extension’s Master Gardener Help Desk, answering questions when the call came in. The caller was quite agitated, afraid that her prize fern was on the verge of passing into the great garden in the sky. It took me some time to calm her down and explain that those black dots, neatly lined up in rows, were in fact a sign of health, and that her fern was not only thriving, but was on the brink of parenthood. Yes, those little bumps contained a zillion baby ferns, so to speak, in the form of spores.