|Antiques Digest||Browse Auctions||Appraisal||Home|
( Originally Published 1907 )
A FERN that requires no mundane soil but subsists on air and water, is obliging enough to rest when it suits our convenience to have it rest, and which will spring into active life again when we desire it to do soif we furnish water for the purpose-is indeed a fern worth having. Such is a possibility of the now popular fern ball, made from the creeping aerial rootstock of the pretty scaly hare's-foot (Davallia bullata). The rhizomes branch freely and are pliable when wet. They are deftly bound over wire frames filled with sphagnum, into which the rootlets are sent from the rootstock and from which they draw the necessary moisture.Balls are perhaps the most popular form, but miscellaneous designs are on the market. The most amusing product is certainly the fern monkey. This facetious idea is so well developed that on one occasion the attendant of an Italian organ grinder took off his hat and respectfully saluted a new acquaintance of his own kind. The failure to return the compliment, however, awakened curiosity, and the flesh-and-blood monkey attempted to tear the stuffing out of the vegetarian without further ceremony.
The original of the photograph is given a daily bath for five or six months of the year, and in October or November is usually relegated to the cellar, where he hangs in a comatose state from the water pipe for several months, having, it is said, a beneficial effect on delinquent plumbers.
The fronds of the davallia are light and airy and delicately curved, and on the present subject prove clearly that there is no place where a fern can be other than graceful.