Sunday, April 19, 2009

Symphony of Ferns

In my overly shaded back garden I have a collection of ferns. I learned to appreciate ferns when I moved here 15 years ago because I had mostly shade in my back garden. There are ferns that tolerate lots of sun but I most appreciate their ability to thrive in shade and once established they aren't too fussy about moisture. I have several pots of ferns that I have to bring in during the winter. To me they are worth the effort. Most I don't know the names of like the one above. It is a smallish fern but it grows well.
Below is Staghorn Fern. I have had it about 3 years now. It is growing alright but I think it struggles during winter when it is so dry in the house. It will be happier when I place it outside for the summer. It is getting a good drink of rain today.
The fern below is a healthy grower in a container. It has big leaves and has little feet that are thick and strong. Little plantlets start growing on these feet and I am sure in the wild it is how it spreads. I wish I knew what kind it is, if anyone knows please tell me.
This fuzzy footed fellow is a Rabbits foot fern. I just love its fuzzy little feet. It is another that I keep in a pot so I can bring it in during winter to protect it from frosts and freezes. I put a piece of it on a log last year and it grew well but of course it couldn't withstand the winter.
The hardy ferns are performing a concert. Their fiddles are all heading for the great blue skies. I think the fiddleheads are as interesting as the fronds. Like this Japanese Painted Fern 'Ghost' has very dark fiddleheads before the foliage turns its ghostly white. It is odd but this is the only variety of Japanese Painted fern that I can get to grow in my garden. I have tried several to no avail.
The Sensitive Fern is a native fern of our area. A start was given to me several years ago by a neighbor that was a great native plantsman. Not only does this fern look delicate but it is the toughest you can get once established. It doesn't mind to cross over into the path where the rocks give it a headstart on spring. The Tatting fern give us such sweet fiddleheads. It is an unusual looking fern and is typically very addaptive to a little more sun than some others.
My most prolific and most forgiving fern is the Ostrich fern. It was here when I moved in and it has not stopped spreading since. I have given away probably an acre worth of these hardy ferns and they keep on growing. I would say that if you have an impossibly shady, dry or wet area this fern is for you. In dry areas you must water to get it established but once there it will be a happy camper.
Last but not least is the Autumn Fern. It has the most interesting fiddleheads to me. They are so dark. I guess they are just warning you that the leaves of these ferns are going to be an unusual color too. This fern is a must for Gardeners that loves ferns. It will delight you with colorful fronds that go from rusty gold to dark green as it ages. I missed getting pictures of the Christmas Fern, Lady Fern and Male Fern. They are also great ferns for shady areas. Has the fern bug bitten you? What are your favorite ferns?

33 comments:

Cheryl said...

Dear Lisa.....yes I am without doubt a fern lover, and like you have a vast collection.
I love the shuttlecock fern.......I love the long straight fronds reaching for the sky.....I have a damp garden for most of the year, so of course, they do very well........
Pleasure seeing yours.......

GardenJoy4Me said...

Lisa .. I too am a huge fern fan and grow many of them .. I haven't seen the rabbits foot fern before and wow ! that is amazing .. yes to the ostrich fern being the most forgiving .. I have been known to be quite mean to it at times and it keeps coming back to spite me ? LOL .. I think we should form a fern club some day .. there is nothing like the fiddle heads and the smell of ferns : )

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I have never heard of a Shuttlecock fern. I will have to look it up to see if it would grow here. I don't have a boggy area though so if it needs bog I might be out of luck.

GardenJoy4Me, I had never thought of the "smell" of ferns before we got a candle with that scent where I work. I guess they do have a clean fresh smell about them. My smeller isn't very good.

SandyCarlson said...

I love ferns, too, Lisa. They are amazing around here. I love your shots of the fiddlehead. It's amazing to watch a fern be born. They look like aliens, then like fiddlehead, then like mysterious creatures reaching for the light, then ferns. All in a day. Amazing.

Gail said...

Dear Lisa, Your ferns are beautiful! I can't imagine them growing so well that I could give them away (well maybe after all the rain we keep getting)....They love your garden. I can grow successfully only two ferns; Christmas and Autumn...and I appreciate them! Do you have Bill Cullina's book Native Ferns, Moss and Grasses. A great resource for a fern lover! gail

Kathleen said...

I think we love ferns because they are so ancient. They add so much magic to a garden.

It excites me to see your ferns popping up! Mine are still sleeping, but I'm sure they will wake soon.

Tatyana said...

What a good collection of ferns you have Lisa! I have three types -Sword fern that is native to this area, Australian Tree fern and the guy without a name. After reading your post, I might want to get Ostrich fern. Where do you keep them in winter: garage, basement...?
Thanks!

Shady Gardener said...

Hi Lisa! Ferns are wonderful shade plants. My neighbors have shared Ostrich ferns with me. Every year some of them return and some don't. One of my cutest ferns is Arthyrium 'Frizella' and I know you'd like it! It, too, loved your shots of the fiddlehead! Happy Spring! :-)

Rose said...

Lisa, I do love ferns, too! I don't have many yet in my garden, but I keep adding more each year. I like the Japanese painted ferns, but really any fern will do. Unfortunately, I wasn't very good about keeping that huge Boston fern I bought on sale last year watered over the winter. I'm hoping it still has enough life in it to grow back this summer. Hmmm, so you give away starts of your Ostrich fern?

Roses and Lilacs said...

I love ferns too. A few do fairly well in our area. We are very prone to long dry periods here so they don't thrive. You have quite a collection. They must look wonderful in the late spring when all the fronds are green and fresh. They also give the summer garden a cool look.
Marnie

Frances said...

Hi Lisa, what a fabulous array of ferns. I love them too. Here is something funny though, I cannot grow the painted fern 'Ghost', it died immediately while the ones with red and purple have gone crazy, sporing all over the place. Your must have gotten down very low to get the Ghost shot! It's a beauty! :-)
Frances

gintoino said...

Beautiful ferns Lisa. I love ferns but unfortunately they don't like my climate that much. The only way of keeping them is as house plants, and I have to be honest, I'm not too good with house plants... :-(

Deb said...

What a fabulous collection of ferns you have. I'm a huge fan of ferns too!

Layanee said...

Another fern lover here! Favorite? Tough one. Which day? Japanese painted today.

Outside In said...

Great ferns! one of my favorite plants. Thanks for stopping by my blog.

Diana said...

Lisa -- that is an amazing assortment of ferns and they all looks so happy to be in your garden. I love all the shots of the fiddleheads popping out. Your Staghorn is so impressive. I almost bought one at the Garden Fest this spring, but thought the deer might eat on it and I don't have room for it inside the fence where there is limited shade under the trees. I'll just drool over yours instead!

Northern Shade said...

You have a nice variety of ferns, with unique shapes (including fuzzy feet). The fiddleheads as they first arise are always so interesting.I've found the Ghost fern to be more robust than its relative the Japanese painted fern too. My painted ferns survive, but don't make as substantial clumps, and are slow at coming up.

I like Osmunda regalis (royal fern), which grows somewhat shrub-like. The little Adiantum pedatum (northern maidenhair fern) is another favourite. I like its delicate look, but hardy constitution. My Dropteris expansa has a nice shape, and doesn't spread into its neighbours.

troutbirder said...

Wow another shady gardener. I dont know how I missed this. Since moving into the woods I always looking for ideas. Thanks!

Jamie and Randy said...

We can hardly wait to get more shade so we can have ferns and hostas! I love them.

Robin's Nesting Place said...

I wish I had a good shady or wooded area for ferns. I love the way they look in a woodland.

shirl said...

Hi there Lisa, oh yes, indeed I am :-)

Like Cheryl, I love the shuttlecock fern. Like Joy, I love the smell of ferns. Like Sandy, I love watching them start out. Like you, I have also given as many away.

I agree with Kathleen about the mystical and ancient look of ferns. I had a tree fern for a couple of years before trying to harden it up one winter and lost it!

A fav is so hard, I love the jap. Painted one but also the Heart’s tongue too. I love the polypodiums, the rusty-backs, the maiden-hairs and… nope can’t choose :-D

I’d love to have a hardy enough tree fern and your stag’s horns would be something else! I think you will have inspired a few more fern lovers with this posting :-D

Ewa said...

Dear Lisa... you have very beautiful collection of fern.
I like them too, but didn't think to grow them in pots for outdoor shady garden - you are so right with this idea - I simply didn't think of that before...
Are they really not so fusssy about water once they are established? I tend to kill them too often...
Cheers,

Ms. Wis./Each Little World said...

I love your fern collection and love reading these comments as we all have opposing results. Can't get Ghost to do well in my garden while the painted ferns grow and grow and grow, in sun and shade, good soil and clay. I divide them and spread them everywhere. Just bought a new fern yesterday: Thelypteris palustris (marsh fern) — blue green fronds up to 30." Am excited to see how it does.

Diane C. said...

Fascinating post! There are a couple of little ferns that grow in our desert canyon out of shady rock ledges. I am always delighted to see them.

Nan said...

Great, great posting, Lisa. I know almost nothing about ferns, though there are a lot around here. When I grew up there was a clump each side of our wide front steps, and I loved them. That staghorn is amazing. You've encouraged me to find out more about the ones I see every day. Thank you.

Janet Creamer said...

Hi Lisa,

I have a few pics you requested at my site. I didn't take them, but one of my friends took them a while back.

Janet

cyndy said...

Fabulous-Fantastic-Ferns!

What a great collection!

Thanks for all the photos and info!

Q said...

Dear Lisa,
All of your ferns are lovely...I too love them. I have a few in my front pond garden. I always look forward to the ferns each spring. I think they have the "smell of spring!"
Sherry

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

I love ferns too, especially the fiddleheads. I've had bad luck with lots of ferns, but the two that have managed to survive my garden are the basic Lady Fern (felix femina) and the Christmas Fern. Tough, durable, tolerant of drought, and in the case of the Christmas Fern, evergreen. Just love them.

EAL said...

Ah yes, the Ostrich fern. It has eaten many of the other ferns in my fern area, but I still love it. Let's face it, I have a great appreciation for aggressive plants.

Barbara said...

I also belong to fern lovers and I have a little collection too. Especially now, I like to watch them when they unfurl, giving a great entrance.

RuthieJ said...

Lovely ferns Lisa. I used to have a couple in the house, but they were too tempting for Kitty to eat. I still love them as indoor and outdoor plants though.

Dee/reddirtramblings said...

Lisa, I wonder if my passalong ferns are ostrich ferns? I think I'll take a photo of them & try to i.d. I also have a 'Lady in Red' fern I bought from Song Sparrow. In its third season, it is very beautiful with its red stems. Thanks for the fern tour.~~Dee