Rare Finds

Scan 5Fern Hunting Episodes, Charles Druery

As a rule the acquisition of a new find consists merely in digging it up, extricating it from its common associates and packing it in paper, adding moss or grass, or something of that kind, damped if possible, to preserve its freshness, since I have great faith in preventing an acquisition from getting dry, so much vitality is lost if this precaution be neglected. It may, however, happen that the find is an old- established mass of so unwieldy a nature as to require assistance. A case of this kind stands out vividly in my memory as I write. One Sunday morning, leaving my fern trowel religiously behind me to secure me from temptation, I came to a brook on the edge of Dartmoor with sloping banks, dotted here and there with clumps of Lastvea Montana, seen from an elevated path. Scanning these clumps, one of them, some 20 yards away at the edge of the brook strikes me as “funny-looking,” something odd and unlike the rest. Walking rapidly down the slope closer investigation reveals that I have found a most beautifully tasselled and slender growing variety, a gem of the first water. (L. montana cvistato-gvacile, Dvuevy.) The clump however, is about a yard through, a dense mass of many crowms, altogether unportable ; what is to be done ? Carefully noting the surroundings and putting a frond into my hat to show to my better half, staying in the adjacent village, I return, but can hardly persuade her that I have made such a discovery until later in the day we return to the spot and she finds it again in proof of my sincerity.

The next morning I engage a man, with a stout fork, to assist me in lifting the plant, but neither he nor I can move it until a quarry cart and driver coming along. We enlist their services and eventually lift a mass of fern and soil and drive it triumphantly into the village, dumping the mass into a huge hamper secured for the purpose, in which it eventually reached London. Dissected, it proved to have no less than 33 crowns, a number of which were at once distributed far and wide among fern-loving friends.

From The British Fern Gazette 1909 — 1912

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