Members of the fern family

Potted a new plant today, a maidenhair fern. I love their delicate little leaves and how they flutter with the slightest movement. I've always been smitten by ferns, I think i get it from my mother. Ferns in all forms- live ferns, fern illustrations, pressed ferns (as displayed in the museum of natural history).

I can relate to the Victorians who coined the term pteridomania defined as a madness, craze, or strong fancy, for ferns.

My great great grandmother Ella, a botany student, surely studied ferns in the Wellesley greenhouses and drew them in her botanical sketchbook, perhaps inspired by this popular book.

Wellesley College Sept 22th 1878

"Nellie and I went over to the gardens where the fall flowers are just in their prime. I think the display fully equaled anything I've ever seen there in the spring....Yesterday we began our first painting or rather first drawing lesson. I'm about discouraged. She gave me a branch of maple leaves which were fearful to draw and the wind kept on blowing them every which way."

Wellesley College Sept 13th 1878

"Nellie and I washed this PM. Had a long letter from Minnie. I've got my studies all arranged but presume they won't stay so for long. It is dreadfully hard for me to study after being out so long and the weather is fearful, hot and damp, so everything sticks."

Wellesley College Oct 16th 1878

"Miss Howard announced this morning that Wellesley College has been awarded a silver medal at the Paris Exposition- the highest award to any female college. A hundred dollars has been raised for the purchase of a large and fine collection of seashells. They were collected, many of them at great expense, by a lady in Cambridge- circumstances forced her to sell them and the ladies of C. have contributed 400 dollars and will give them to any institution which will give 100- I hope we shall get them. The chemistry examin. was splendid last night. I only had one mistake on my paper and Miss Hallowell complimented my botany sketchbook very highly."

Wellesley College Oct 27th 1878

"Miss Nelson said this morning that she would be going to dine next Saturday at the Parker House with four prominent biologists- Ha! Ha! All gentleman.

Oh friends- the journal entries go on and on. She has now decided to move to South Africa to teach and is touring Europe before she settles into her post.

Stay tuned. She meets a boy and sparks fly....


  1. Maidenhair is my favorite too! How fun for you to have these journals.

  2. oh man, i seriously love these journal entries.

  3. i love love love the "fearful, hot, & damp" line- it reminds me of our dear ginny b. also, amy & chelsea- maidenhair is my favorite plant too, and i have been so sad all spring b/c i can't find one here in philly- i've been needing one to make me happy in the mornings when i wake up! they move so beautifully, like a little green kinetic sculpture!! amy, please keep this blog rolling. it makes my day, everyday.

  4. I just bought a pair of beautiful Maidenhairs but the are dying! How do you keep them looking beautiful?

  5. Ferns generally require a lot of watering and indirect sunlight. Sometimes they will wilt and some fronds will dry up, but if you clip of the dead sections they should perk up in a few days.

    My dad always says if a house plant is struggling, reassess your watering, too much or not enough and move it to a different window.

  6. Seriously, you should look into copying Elle's journal (whether having it published professionally or off a copy machine) doing a cute little binding and sell it on etsy! I'll take the first copy if I have the money for it! Seriously, amazing!