Loved, Lost and Found Again


Self sown maiden-hair fern

I’ve always coveted the lacy maidenhair fern although I’ve had mixed success growing them. Adiantum spp, or maidenhair is a sought after variety. The word Adiantum comes from the Greek adiantos, which means ‘unwetted’ and refers to the way that maidenhair fern fronds repel water. Who hasn’t delighted in the way pearls of water and light spill from their dainty fronds ? There are over 200 species of these age old favourites, together with numerous cultivars.

I think I have loved and lost more than my fair share of them.

The Burke’s Backyard website describes them as: ‘Finely foliaged, evergreen plants, that can grow to 1 metre in height (about 3′) but are more commonly smaller growing. Maidenhair ferns grow from underground rhizomes and have brownish/black leaf stalks from which the fronds unfold to display their apple-green leaflets.

The range of leaf shapes and growth habits is staggering. Foliage comes in all forms and sizes, some fine leafed, others variegated, and some scalloped. Some species are certainly tougher than others.’

But they can be a little difficult to grow. The problem seems to be mostly a watering and light one – either too much or too little of either or both.

Imagine my delight when little ‘fern-lets’ began to spring up in unexpected places, and without any help from me! Perhaps spores from my potted ferns drifted across the garden and landed in places conducive to their flourishing. Or maybe they were introduced with bags of soil I used for building up my garden beds.

Whatever the case, these clever little plants have recognised prime real estate for thriving, often enhanced by unfamiliar companions, and have sprung from between pots, pavers and retaining-wall gaps. It seems I’ve loved, lost but also found these beautiful ferns again in the most surprising places.



So I ask myself: what can I learn from their example? Persistence, resilience, the value of serendipity, of being in the right place at the right time?

Mmmm. Certainly not the last. That wouldn’t account for all the spores that failed to thrive because they’d landed less fortuitously (now there’s another lesson).

I think my lesson here is the possibility of thriving in unexpected places and situations. I’ve found conditions for flourishing can come in unfamiliar forms, and sometimes in the most surprising places.


“It is strange how new and unexpected conditions bring out unguessed ability to meet them.”
Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Warlord of Mars


23 responses to “Loved, Lost and Found Again

  1. pulchritudinous post!
    The way you have connected the two..
    Nature and the message the writings carry. Absolutely loved it! – Cezane

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’ve always loved maidenhair ferns. I love seeing them in rainforests when there’s a slither of light making its way through the overhead canopy and striking the foliage. I can understand the sentiment of your lesson — having found myself in unchartered waters at times through the years, I have been able to swim and then surge ahead. I’m hopeful for that in this present time, though the engines are still warming up I feel. Great post yet again Robyn. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Now, this was a very positive and encouraging post about the human condition! Thanks, Robyn. I needed that at the moment. The woodland floor around my home is filled with maidenhair ferns and they are truly lovely. I’ve a friend who uses native plants and “weeds” in cooking and he loves to collect them. And they make beautiful pressed pieces as a background for dried flowers. 🌿

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes Clare! I’d forgotten how good they are as pressed flowers. Been so long since I’ve done something like that. I’ve never used them in cooking though. I’m so glad to have made you feel better. I know you’ve felt despondent with world events lately

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks, Robyn. Yes, we’ve had another tough week here in the US. Protest demonstrations – Police shooting black men during routine traffic stops and police being fired upon and killed in Texas. This will not end well and I really feel the Buffoon has provoked much of this unrest with his racially-based hate rhetoric. I’m not writing a post this week. I hope to get away from the political and do some travel or garden or humorous pieces, but I just can’t be light-hearted right now. I promise, I’ll bounce back. Today, I’m doing the edits for the galley of “The Pacas are Coming – ZuZu and the Crias” and the book should be published and back to me in about two weeks. Then, maybe I’ll feel better. The alpaca photos I take always make me feel like laughing.Have a peaceful Sunday and thank you for your kind words. Clare

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I only know maidenhair ferns as a house plant and have loved and lost a few of them. My first success with the species 28 years ago- a beautiful, wide spread of fronds in a shady, cool room – was literally loved to bits by our son, Matthew, who had just learnt to walk. He was fascinated by the feel of the fronds as he ran his hands through them. Although part of my heart told me to protect the fern the rest told me that Matthew’s exploration of the world was way more important. Thanks for the memories your piece prompted.

    Liked by 1 person

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