To the Red Barn, Fernwood Nursery, and John’s Ice Cream

Yesterday was a finest kind of day, even though it was hotter than heck—in the 90s. For Mother’s Day, Shannon gave me a gift certificate to the fabulous Red Barn–thank you, Shannon!—and our first stop was lunch. I had one of my favorite things—a delectable lobster roll—and Clif had fish and chips and a side order of onion rings.

After that, it was on to Fernwood Nursery in Montville, where I met my blogging friend Denise Sawyer and her husband Rick. A note about blogging friends in general and Denise in specific: Blogging has enhanced my life  in unexpected and utterly delightful ways. In this country and in many others, through blogging, I have met a wonderful, creative group of people who inspire me. You might even call this a far-flung community of kindred spirits.

I met Denise in a roundabout way, through an Irish blog called The Aran Artisan.  As it turned out, Melissa, of the Aran Artisan, is originally from Maine, and Denise, one of her followers, lives in Maine now. Hence the connection. Denise found out I was Franco-American and very kindly sent me a book about Franco-Americans. I discovered Denise and her husband own a nursery that specializes in shady plants.

I have a shady yard and gardens with, ahem,  a few holes. As Fernwood Nursery is within driving distance of where we live, Clif and I decided to make the trek to Montville after our Red Barn lunch.

What a treat to visit Denise, Rick,  and their delightful nursery tucked in the woods. Truly, it felt like Clif and I were connecting with old friends, even though we had never met. Despite this being a very busy time for Fernwood, Denise graciously took time to talk with us and to give us advice about planting in dry shade. I came home with a Solomon’s seal, just perfect for that aforementioned hole in the garden.

Denise also told us a little about herself, about how she came from an old Connecticut family that dates back to the 1600s. Rick is from the Lewiston/Auburn area, and they own about twenty acres of land in Montville, which not only supports the nursery but also provides about 85 percent of what they eat.

Most of the land remains wooded, and Denise is quite rightly proud that they get so much out of a small footprint, their livelihood as well as a lot of their food.

As we sat outside in wicker chairs, I heard the clucking of chickens in a nearby pen, big with plenty of room to peck and scratch. In the background came the melodious song of large wood chimes, and it almost seemed as though the woods were singing.

Denise and Rick have what can only be called a flair for making their nursery a lovely place. Green, green, and green, so bright yet soothing. Lots of little containers tucked with different varieties of hens and chicks. Double-blossom white trilliums. Arresting sculpture.

Here are some pictures of Fernwood Nursery.

As Denise noted, “It’s a good place to be.”

It most certainly is, and we look forward to visiting again.

Now, you might be wondering how in the world we ended the day that would be in keeping with seafood and a delightful nursery.

Following Denise’s suggestion, we went to John’s ice cream.

As the sign indicates, the ice cream is handmade and oh so delicious.

What a good life we have!

35 thoughts on “To the Red Barn, Fernwood Nursery, and John’s Ice Cream”

    1. I had peanut butter, but quadruple chocolate sounds pretty darned good!

      1. Actually, there is an ice cream stand not too far from us that has excellent peanut butter ice cream. If you ever come to central Maine…

  1. Thanks for this. Not only am I reassured that YOU are living the life, you took me on a tour of Fernwood. I just started following them this spring and can’t wait to visit. I love your pictures which are even better than the ones on their website. She said. XOXOXOOXXOOX

    1. Awww, thanks Burni. What a lovely place. Well worth the trip. If you do go, let me know. Maybe we can meet somewhere for lunch. It’s been a very long time since we’ve chatted in person.

  2. We had dinner at the Red Barn yesterday! We both had the whole bellied clam snack! 😋!!

  3. A good life indeed! 🙂
    Love that double trillium – looks like Fernwood is an awesome nursery.
    Great post, Laurie, and I have to agree about the blessings of blogging’s ‘far-flung community of kindred spirits.’ How fortunate we are! 🙂

  4. I’m envious–I’d love to go to Fernwood Nursery someday, and meet Denise and Rick! I predict you will love your Solomon seal–ours spreads every year and it has such an unusual look.

  5. We will be heading to Rhode Island for a graduation in a few weeks. Looking forward to some of those lobster rolls while in Lobster Country. Of course, we also have to have some coffee ice cream, as my wife believes that this originated in RI (actually, I had coffee ice cream in CA decades ago, but what use is historic details over marital harmony). 🍨

  6. What a perfect day! I will be visiting Fernwood in about two weeks and am really looking forward to it. This post was a lovely preview. They aren’t far from us, but I haven’t been there yet because we have been focusing on gardening in the SUN (we have lots)–shade plants are a few years down the road. I hope that next time you are over this way, you will consider coming here for a visit. The welcome mat is always out for you.

    1. Awww, thanks Brenda. Not sure if I’ll be going again this year, but if I do, then I’ll let you know.

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