Marilyn Hagerty: Keeping history through the life of a house plant

Marilyn Hagerty

Come blizzards and floods. Good times and bad, the Boston fern in a Grand Forks home has weathered all of them.

Audrey Zejdlik says she might have the oldest house plant in the area. These days it sits in her living room not far from the Red River as it flows relentlessly north.

Looking back, Audrey Zejdlik says her father always remembered the plant sitting in the Stomner parlor at Mayville. Her grandmother’s aunt Mary and husband George Stomner had moved there in 1881. Her father Dale Quanbeck visited there regularly in the years between 1930 and 1970.

Then after the last family member died, the household belongings were up for sale. When Audrey Zejdlik bought the stove, she was asked if she wanted to give the fern a home.

These days, the fern spends its days sitting in the front window of the Zejdlik home in Grand Forks. It has been there for 35 years. She says it had a couple of near death experiences. In 1997, it survived the flood and three weeks without watering. That was when the family was forced out of the home.


She said, “I have always felt privileged to be the keeper of the history through which this beautiful plant has lived.”

Standing by

While there are losses and isolation in these days of coronavirus invasion, there are houseplants that give comfort and reassurance.

Audrey Zejdlik says she always has felt privileged to be the keeper of the history through which her beautiful plant has passed.

The plant is large – about 3 feet across and about 4 feet high.

Dozens, hundreds

The fern at the Zejdlik home is one of dozens of plants that bring life and assurance to homes in these times.

“We have hundreds of them,” says Georgia Heitman. “There are hanging baskets. They are on porches.’’

At Elaine’s House of Dreams floral shop in Lakota, there is an interest in house plants for gift giving. And Elaine Brooks says the a jade plant has been popular. Many people like a plant to stay for a while. It depends on the occasion, she says.

Reach Marilyn Hagerty at or by telephone at 701-772-1055.

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