Beulah Johnston is carrying on the torch given to her by her mother and father, and that torch happens to be a 75-year-old fern.
The fern is an heirloom in the family, and one that Ms. Johnston has continued to have fond memories of throughout her life.
“I remember walking home with my mother right after we got the fern from a relative,” Ms. Johnston said. “We had the start in a three-pound lard can.”
That original root given to Beulah’s mother and father, the late Nellie and Walter Mueller, grew into a massive fern that no one in Ms. Johnston family could identify. Ms. Johnston says that the fronds that sprout off the plant look as if it grew off of a Boston fern, but upon closer examination the fronds start to turn lacy as they mature.
“No one has been able to figure out exactly what kind of fern it is,” Ms. Johnston said.
She recalls that even when her mother and father cared for the plant that it was larger than average.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a house plant that large,” Ms. Johnston said.
Ms. Johnston said that she is used to having lots of large plants in her home, and the fern, among many other plants, had always been a centerpiece in her childhood home.
“My mother loved plants,” Ms. Johnston said.
Since her mother and father passed away, Ms. Johnston has been the keeper of the large fern, and she says that even still the plant is resilient. The large fern now sits in Ms. Johnston’s living room in front of a large window. She says that people always drive by her house wondering if the old fern is real or not.
“I have had people who live on my road ask if its real, how can you have a plant that big,” Ms. Johnston said. “I just say to stop by some time and see it for yourself.”
She said that the fern has been re-potted several times throughout her childhood, and only a few times since she has been in possession of it. Ms. Johnston said the biggest struggle is finding a large enough pot to put it in. Especially one that can not only handle the weight and size of the fern, but also can hold a large amount of water.
“We water it once a week and give it about a gallon and a half of water,” Ms. Johnston said. “I don’t know what we are going to replant it in. It has gotten even larger in the last few years, my living room is getting smaller all the time, pretty soon it’s going to take over the whole house!”
Ms. Johnston said that she hopes to keep the fern in her family, and she has already given starts off of the fern to some close family members. She said that keeping the plant alive for so many years is something to be proud of.
“If dad could see the fern now he wouldn’t believe it,” Ms. Johnston said “It really has grown.”