Friday, January 22, 2010

Franklin the Fern

We share our home with a 33 year old fern named Franklin. He is a Roosevelt fern, thus the name. Franklin has been a part of our family since 1986 when we became his caregivers at one of our home purchases. He was just a youngster then, only 10. Since then he has made six moves with us and has grown to cover a space in our current home of 6x6x7, yes that’s feet.

He currently sits proudly on a 4 foot tall pedestal, as he well deserves, in a 30” plastic pot in the corner of our great room. He’s a happy camper with windows on both sides. We have transplanted him to a bigger container 3 times over the years and I think we may have reached the limit of available pot sizes. Is dividing in his future?

The instructions that came with him said to water him once a week to the mark on the green watering can that accompanied him, and to fertilize monthly in all but the winter months. It also said he liked misting frequently. We have religiously followed the instructions and still use the same green watering can, along with a step stool, as his top is 7 feet above the floor.

I give him haircuts about every four months. This entails climbing under his canopy, shaking the fronds a bit, clipping ones that touch the floor or have died, then sweeping up the cuttings before vacuuming. It also entails a lot of sneezing. Our two cats usually get involved in this activity too. They seem to think I’m creating a kitty fun house with all the cuttings on the floor. They jump in and chase the cuttings around the room.

Franklin is truly a part of our family. He requires living in a room with the most action. In one house move we put him in a family room that wasn’t used much and he withered away to bare fronds. Moving him to the living room and giving him a lot of TLC brought him back. We learned our lesson - he needs to be where he can be a part of the family.

Our two cats have spent countless hours chasing and batting at spent pieces of his long fronds. Our grandchildren have been cautioned to not venture under his canopy because we fear in his old age he may not be able to withstand their frolicking. He gets decorated for Christmas with golden garlands and twinkling mini lights – a second Christmas tree of sorts. There is no jealously, just sharing the holiday moments with family.

We have one more move to make whenever we decide to downsize. Franklin will make that move with us to another special place in our next home.

In the picture you will see the author, in one of her favorite poses (with wine glass in hand), and the two kitties, Bella and Maya on their cushions keeping me company.

Copyright Parrot Writes 2010


  1. Lovely Fern! Indeed a proud member of the family. As a plant lover I really enjoyed your story. It made me want to grab a water bottle and rush around the house spritzing my little babies. Oh, if one day one of my babies should turn out to be a Franklin - I would be so happy.

  2. He is pretty spectacular and receives lots of comments when someone meets him for the first time. We should have made a video of our last potting adventure. Took both Cris and I and we made the biggest mess! Not looking forward to doing that again, but I think we may have to...

  3. Now that's a fern. You must be the envy of every fern grower in this great nation.

  4. Doubt that, but he does feel like a part of the family. This winter he has lost some of his robustness, but hopefully when I can start fertilizing him, he will respond. Thanks for reading my story!

  5. I love Franklin. You forgot to mention that he can talk ;)

  6. Great story, and great fern! (But don't let him watch Little Shop of Horrors....)

  7. I had a palm tree I inherited from an aunt that was at least 15 years old. I let my sister take it for a few weeks while I was moving and she killed it. How does one kill a 15 year old palm tree in a few weeks? Humm...

  8. Wow - Dayner - that's a good question. Maybe she left it in the garage and forgot to water it? Or maybe she gave it something to drink that it didn't like? I'm sorry! And it was only in it teenage years!