Well Fiddle-Dee-Dee: Unfurling Spring Pleasures in the Forest at Ferncliff…

April 30th, 2010 § 4 comments § permalink

Fiddlehead ferns unfurling in the Secret Garden – Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia pensylvanica)

Lady fern ‘Lady in Red’ (Athyrium filix feminina), in my garden

Oh yes, we are smack-dab-in-the-middle of fiddlehead season here in the Northeast; one of spring’s most delightful and ephemeral pleasures at my forest home in Vermont. Here on my ledgy site, Ostrich ferns, (a member of the cliff fern family), are abundant; producing large, tightly curled heads as they emerge from the ground in April and early May. Of course fiddleheads are beautiful to behold, and in my garden I enjoy their delicate springtime beauty paired with spring bulbs and emerging perennials such as Lenten rose, (Helleborus x hyrbidus), and native ephemerals including foam flower, (Tiarella), dogtooth violet, (Erythronium), woodland phlox, (Phlox divaricata), bloodroot, (Sanguinaria), and spurge, (Euphorbia). All ferns produce fiddleheads, from which their feathery fronds unfurl, (I dare you to say that 10 times, fast). And some, such as the red-tips of the Lady Fern, (Athyrium filix feminina) ‘Lady in Red’, and the silvery fiddles of Cinnamon fern, (Osmunda cinnamomea), are quite stunning. But there is another reason for my fern-euphoria: this is tasty, tender fiddlehead harvest time!

Collecting Ostrich Fern Fiddleheads at Ferncliff

The Ostrich fern, (Matteuccia pensylvanica), and the Cinnamon fern, (Osmunda cinnamomea), are the most commonly harvested fiddleheads in the Northeast, and for good reason. These two large-sized native ferns produce the most delicious fiddleheads in the forest. If you’ve never gathered a fresh meal of fiddleheads from the woods, let me just give you a hint of what you are missing. To me, fiddleheads taste a bit like asparagus, only sweeter and more earthy. Although you can buy this gourmet treat in markets at this time of year, there is really no substitute for the taste of a hand-harvest. Fiddleheads can be eaten raw, (not advisable in great quantity due to possible health risks), but usually they are cooked. One of the easiest ways to prepare them is by cooking in a pot of boiling, salted water until tender, (7 -10 minutes for super fresh fiddleheads and slightly longer if the harvest has been refrigerated for a few days), and then serve them warm with a bit of butter. Although fiddleheads can be added to a variety of dishes, and also be preserved by pickling or freezing, one of my favorite ways to eat them is simply prepared in a Fiddlehead and Feta omelette…

Ferncliff Fiddlehead and Feta Omelette

Ferncliff Fiddlehead and Feta Omelette

Ingredients (makes one omelette)

3    medium sized fresh eggs

2    teaspoons of butter

1    handful of freshly harvested and lightly cooked fiddleheads

1/4 cup of fresh feta cheese

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Whisk three eggs together in a small bowl with a fork, (just enough to combine the yolk and white), add salt and pepper to taste. Melt butter in an 8 inch skillet on low, (do not brown). When the foam subsides, add eggs to the pan, wait a few seconds and slowly pull the egg toward the center of the pan, (this creates a fluffy, evenly cooked omelette). Cook on medium/low, and after about a half a minute, scoot the omelette over to one side and add the feta and fiddleheads. Fold the omelette in half. Cook for another half a minute or so, (pat if you like). Turn off the heat and then place a plate over the pan and flip the omelette over. Serve with a helping of fresh blanched or steamed fiddleheads and a bit of feta crumbled on top. Delicious!

Fiddleheads and Feta: Ingredients for the Perfect Morning Omelette

Mmmmm…

Ostrich fern unfurling at Ferncliff © 2010 Michaela at TGE

Shadow of a Lady Fern © Michaela at TGE

***

Words and Pictures copyright 2010 Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden. All Rights Reserved.

All content on this site, (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used or reproduced without prior written consent. Inspired by something you see here? Great! Please give credit where credit is due. It’s a small world and link-love makes for fond friendships. Stealing makes for bad dreams…

Do you enjoy visiting The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through our affiliate links. A small percentage of any sale originating from The Gardener’s Eden site will go toward web hosting and maintenance costs. Thank you for your support!

wine.com

Gardener's Supply Company

 

***

At Ferncliff this week: The wildflower walk and other highlights of late spring…

May 27th, 2009 § Comments Off on At Ferncliff this week: The wildflower walk and other highlights of late spring… § permalink

wildflower-walk-may-juneThe wildflower walk, very late May…

Although there is a more formal entry to my home, at this time of year I usually take the ‘wildflower’ path through the garden. This seeded walkway was not designed for utility, (there is a much wider walkway along a retaining wall), but as more of a whimsical, meandering route to the secret garden below. In early spring, the path is blooming with unusual narcissus and species tulips. Then, as the last of the double daffodils fade out, the lupine begin to bloom. Closely following this show is one of my favorite informal-garden plants, the free-seeding adenophora confusa, (blue-violet lady-bells). A walkway like this may look carefree, but in reality it is not low-maintenance. In order for the lupine and adenophora to seed freely in and along this route, as they would in nature, I do not apply the same thick compost mulch used in the other garden areas. This means that weeding is a constant chore here. There is a very fine line between utter chaos and controlled, wild beauty in this garden. My mother is very good at wild-style flower gardening, and since she and my father sold their home, I have been trying to recreate the effect here at Ferncliff. Before they moved, my parents collected a bag of flower seed from their garden to pass on to mine, and although it has taken a few years, the path is beginning to fill out as planned…

lupine-close-up

***

Other photos from Ferncliff this week…

tree-peony-high-noonPaeonia moutan x lutea, ‘High Noon’, an  American hybrid of the Chinese tree peony (1952)

phlox-divericata-heuchera-seedling-of-dales-strain-leucojum-aestivum-sanguinariaPhlox divaricata, Heuchera americana ‘Green Spice’, Leucojum aestevium, Sanguinaria, and Athyrium x filix-femina, ‘Lady in Red’

cimicifugaHeuchera americana ‘Caramel’, and Cimicifuga racemosa, ‘Hillside Black Beauty’

paeonia-suffriticosa-nishikiPaeonia x suffruticosa,(Chinese tree peony), ‘Black Dragon’

***

Article and Photographs © Michaela at TGE

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing entries tagged with Sanguinaria at The Gardener's Eden.