Another species of plant generally assocaited with moist, shady places is the fern. Interest in ferns reached fever pitch from the 1850’s up to the early 1900’s when incredible numbers of variants in species were identified and propogated. A significant number of these were subsequently lost when the interest in ferns subsided. In those early days, many large gardens baosted a “fernery”
All the photos were taken in our garden.
Click on the photos for a larger image, a slideshow and sometimes extra information.
Alhough we don’t have a fernery as such, we are gathering a collection of ferns. It will immediately be apparent to any visitor that our ground in the woods and in the Millennium garden is suited to ferns.
In fact, Broad Buckler fern Dryopteris dilatata almost reaches weed status as its spores germinate freely. The royal fern (Osmunda regalis) is our largest native fern and several clumps existed when we came here and they continue to appear spontaneously throughout the woods. We planted Osmunda regalis purpurescens which has purple juvenile stems, as a variant of this species. Most of the ferns other than the common Male fern and the more delicate Lady fern (Athyrium filix-femina) are labelled. The Lady fern is spreading notably along the banks of the ditch that separates our property from that of the Geldersch Landschap on the western boundary of the wood. It is readily identifiable by its lighter green and more finely structure fronds.
Appreciating ferns requires a bit patience and ideally a magnifying glass to appreciate the variations in the frond structures. In general we haven’t set out to plant ferns as in a botanical garden but concentrations are to be found in various locations in the gardens. For example, I have grouped various Polystichum setiferum variants in close proximity so they are relatively easy to compare with each other, or not in some cases! One of the prettiest varieties is the Athyrium nipponicum metallicum, which as its name suggests comes from Japan and has a metalic leaf colouration
Click on the photos to see the varieties of ferns in our garden. (Click on “terug” to return to the page)
When only two people are looking after a large garden, every plant which is put into a pot represents a small but collectively extra burden in terms of the daily attention required etc. Accordingly, we don’t have hanging baskets and you won’t find many annuals in our borders. However, pots of plants, which need greenhouse protection in winter, are distributed around the house and these include some spectacular but tender ferns. On the northern side of the house by our front door are two Dicksonia antartica tree ferns. These are frost tolerant but they do need special protection to avoid rotting in the crowns in the winter months so it is easiest to put them under cover. Coming around the south side of the house, you will find a lovely specimen of Blechnum tabulare; or is it Blechnum chilense? It is probably the latter and time will confirm this if it starts to form a small trunk on its older parts. It started life as far as I am concerned as a matchbox-sized plant which was clearly trodden upon in the famous Dereen woodland garden in the south of Ireland and it looked interesting to my eye. Also in this area you will find Woodwardia unigemmata from the Himalayas – I found this as a tiny plant in Spinner’s Garden near Bournemouth (UK) in 2003. Both the blechnum and woodwardia are candidates for planting in a protected position in the woods with winter protection, but I won’t chance this until I have propagated from them. .
I am more than aware that this brief summary hardly does justice to the ferns and we will expand it in the future. See http://hardyfernlibrary.com/ferns/home.cfm. for more information. Martin Rickard. a fern specialist is present in the form of two books:
- “The Plantfinders Guide to Garden Ferns”, Timber Press, ISBN )-88192-567-5 “Gardening with ferns” David and Charles, ISBN 07153 1730X
Finally just a note to say that we do not get any commission for this hero worship either!