The plant collections at OpdeHaar gardens – FERNS


varens langs de sloten in zomer bij Op de Haar tuin

 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.  

Native ferns


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.


Many varieties

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)


Fern Athyrium

Athyrium (lady-fern) is a genus of about 180 species of ferns, with a cosmopolitan distribution. It is placed in the family Athyriaceae, in the order Polypodiales. Its genus name is from Greek a- ('without') and Latinized Greek thureos ('shield'), describing its inconspicuous indusium (sorus' covering). The common name "lady fern" refers in particular to the common lady fern

Ferns - Asplenium

Asplenium is a genus of about 700 species of ferns, often treated as the only genus in the family Aspleniaceae, though other authors consider Hymenasplenium separate, based on molecular phylogenetic analysis of DNA sequences, a different chromosome count, and structural differences in the rhizomes. The type species for the genus is Asplenium marinum.

Many groups of species have been separated from Asplenium as segregate genera. These include Camptosorus, Ceterach, Phyllitis, and Tarachia, but these species can form hybrids with other Asplenium species and because of this are usually included in a more broadly defined Asplenium.

Some of the older classifications elevate the Aspleniaceae to the taxonomic rank of order as Aspleniales. The newer classifications place it in the subordinal group called eupolypods within the order Polypodiales. Within the eupolypods, Aspleniaceae belongs to a clade informally and provisionally known as eupolypods II.

It has been found that in some species, the chloroplast genome has evolved in complex and highly unusual ways. This makes standard cladistic analyses unsuited to resolve the phylogeny of that particular group of ferns, and even very sophisticated computational phylogenetics methods yield little information. In addition to hybridization running rampant in parts of this genus, there are also some species like the mother spleenwort (A. bulbiferum) or A. viviparum which mainly reproduce asexually, essentially cloning themselves over and over again. While most are diploid or tetraploid, some species (e.g. A. shuttleworthianum) are octoploid.

The most common vernacular name is spleenworts, applied to the more "typical" species. A. nidus and several similar species are called bird's-nest ferns, the Camptosorus group is known as walking ferns, and distinct names are applied to some other particularly well-known species.


Both the scientific name and the common name "spleenwort" are derived from an old belief, based on the doctrine of signatures, that the fern was useful for ailments of the spleen, due to the spleen-shaped sori on the backs of the fronds. "-wort" is an ancient English term that simply means "plant"

Ferns - Blechnum

Blechnum (hard fern) is a genus of between 150–220 species of ferns with a cosmopolitan distribution, in the family Blechnaceae in the eupolypods II clade of the orderPolypodiales. By far the greatest species diversity is in tropical regions of the Southern Hemisphere, with only a few species reaching cool temperate latitudes in the Southern Hemisphere (notably B. penna-marina, south to Cape Horn, Chile, the southernmost fern in the world) and Northern Hemisphere (notably B. spicant, north to Iceland and northernNorway).

Most are herbaceous plants, but a few species (e.g. B. buchtienii and B. schomburgkii in Ecuador) are tree ferns with stems up to 3 m tall. Blechnum varies from most ferns in having a separation of sterile (photosynthetic) and fertile (reproductive) fronds in the same plant.

Ferns - Osmunda

Osmunda is a genus of primarily temperate-zone ferns of family Osmundaceae. Five to ten species have been listed for this genus.

The species have completely dimorphic fronds or pinnae (hemidimorphic), green photosynthetic sterile fronds, and non-photosynthetic spore-bearing fertile pinnae, with large, naked sporangia. Because of the large mass of sporangia that ripen uniformly at the same time to a showy golden color, the ferns look as if they are in flower, and so this genus is sometimes called the "flowering ferns".

The genus is known in the fossil record back to the Triassic period from fragmentary foliage nearly identical to the living Osmunda claytoniana.

Paleontological evidence indicates that Osmunda claytoniana, a reputed “living fossil,” has maintained evolutionary stasis for at least 180 million years.

Osmunda regalis is native to our garden and seeds itself profusely along the sides of the ditches. It is the largest native fern in the Netherlands and is protected, as it is relatively rare.

Ferns Arachnoides

Arachniodes is a fern genus in the family Dryopteridaceae (wood ferns). A number of species in this genus are known as "holly ferns".

The genus Arachniodes was first published by Carl Ludwig von Blume in 1828, with the single Indonesian species Arachniodes aspidioides. But the genus wasn't widely recognized until Mary Douglas Tindale transferred the two species Byrsopteris amabilis and Byrsopteris aristata into it in 1961

Ferns - Dryopteris

Dryopteris  commonly called wood fern, male fern (referring in particular to Dryopteris filix-mas), or buckler fern, is a genus of about 250 species of ferns with distribution in the temperate Northern Hemisphere, with the highest species diversity in eastern Asia. Many of the species have stout, slowly creeping rootstocks that form a crown, with a vase-like ring of fronds. The sori are round, with a peltate indusium. The stipes have prominent scales.

Hybridisation is a well-known phenomenon within this group, with many species formed by this method.

Ferns - Matteuccia

Matteuccia struthiopteris (common names ostrich fernfiddlehead ferns or shuttlecock fern) is a crown-forming, colony-forming fern, occurring in temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere in central and northern Europe, northern Asia, and northern North America. The species epithet struthiopteris comes from Ancient Greek words,struthio meaning ostrich and pterion meaning wing.

Ostrich Fern Foliage

It grows from a completely vertical crown, favoring riverbanks and sandbars, but sends out lateral stolons to form new crowns. It thus can form dense colonies resistant to destruction by floodwaters.

The fronds are dimorphic, with the deciduous green sterile fronds being almost vertical, 100–170 cm (39–67 in) tall and 20–35 cm (7.9–13.8 in) broad, long-tapering to the base but short-tapering to the tip, so that they resemble ostrich plumes, hence the name. The fertile fronds are shorter, 40–60 cm (16–24 in) long, brown when ripe, with highly modified and constricted leaf tissue curled over the sporangia; they develop in autumn, persist erect over the winter and release the spores in early spring.


The ostrich fern is a popular ornamental plant in gardens. It has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit. While choosing a place of planting it should be taken into account that these ferns are very expansive and its leaves often lose their beauty throughout the summer, especially if not protected from wind and hail.
Ferns Crytomium

Cyrtomium is a genus of about 15-20 species of ferns in the family Dryopteridaceae, native to Asia, Africa (including Madagascar), and the Pacific Ocean islands (Hawaii). It is very closely related to the genus Polystichum, with recent research suggesting it should be included within it

Tender ferns


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.   .

Additional Information


I am more than aware that this brief summary hardly does justice to the ferns and we will expand it in the future.  See 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!

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