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Fern-atical


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Adamn Greathead
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 06, 2006 4:04 pm    Post subject: Fern-atical Reply with quote


Ferns have long been growing on this planet, in fact they date back to when dinosaurs ruled therefore it is not surprising that they now cover vast inhospitable areas such as Greenland and the Antarctica. Ferns never really kicked off until the Victorians came along with their ferneries, developing great collections with which they could boast with to fellow growers who would go on 'fern forays' digging specimens up n the wild, such actions today would be considered an atrocity, and rightly so.
Gardeners often overlook ferns dismissing them as being dull: far from it. They do not flower, produce seed or contain pollen and have a very different life cycle to other plants: they have thin fibrous roots which span horizontally from which unfurl slender (normally) evergreen swathes of foliage that host salient organs set for one thing: reproduction. The majority of ferns appreciate constant moisture at their roots and sit best in shade where they are capable of instantly lifting the darkness. Many grand ferneries exist nowadays and have been injected with modernism since the Victorians left the stage and I have yet to come across one that puts Tatton Park (in Chesire) to shame (I strongly recommend a visit if you are near).
It is commonly believed that all ferns like boggy conditions. Certainly there are a few which segregate themselves from this rule, over half of the species to be precise. Generally, ferns do prefer shade as opposed to the midday sun and it is therefore best to avoid planting ferns in a position that will, inevitably, receive sun between noon and 3pm. Although some species will tolerant this scenario, they will be far less luxuriant than their shade dwelling siblings. Varieties, which are designed for shade but put in full sun, have a tendency to develop yellow and brown blotches upon their leaves which deface the appearance of the whole plant making it unworthy for the garden.
Many shapes and sizes of foliage can be found in the fern family from serrate to pinnate and oblong to triangular which, quite coincidently, supply the gardener with an armoury of geometric greenery.
Dryopteris filix-mas (male fern), which I grow here, is one of the most precious yet durable and widely available fern in Europe and utilises any space it is given even the most unlikely spaces it will fill. A native to Britain, Asia and N. America, it is easily observed to be a versatile strong growing plant. By no means is it dull either; the fresh new fronds which unfurl like a party popper are the most invigorating shade of green that mature to leave a richer hue. There is a menagerie of sub-species made available to the grower, the most interesting being D. 'Cristata' which boasts crested fronds closely resembling parsley. If you have ever been bold enough to experiment with green and orange in the garden then you'll love D. 'Mapplebeck' with its wide fronds reaching an ultimate height of 36" held above stems that carry orange scales.
In fear of somebody complaining over its absence, I must mention Asplenium scolopendrium. The first fern I ever grew (and wouldn't be without). So it grows abundantly in the wild, but if it isn't in the garden I lose all interest in it, needless to say it has pride of place in a, quite surprisingly, dry spot that receives a miniscule amount of water, in fact, the only water it does receive is when I decide to take a stumble over one of many earthenware pots and mug and tea flies everywhere. Therefore, in theory, this species will cope with a dry soil in shade adding to its versatility. Rather charmingly this fern adds a gracious contrast to other feathery ferns, their broad sword-like fronds protruding from the earth. Crispum is the best group to go for as they are heavily ruffled and look rather similar to a scrunched up piece of parchment owing them the reputation of being the crème de le crème of the fern world. There exists sub-group called muricatum which, as sweet as they are, they seem to honest and naïve for a place in anything but the best diverse fernery run by the best, if not slightly eccentric, fern enthusiast which is something I m not.
Unique plants don't necessarily make unique gardens, however there is one sought after fern I could quite easily make space for and that is Sphenomeris chinensis. As the name suggests it originates from the tropics of China thus is limited to greenhouse cultivation. Bother it may seem, but it pays its way with delicately divided, tripinnatifid fronds managing 12" in either a cold greenhouse or a warm garden so I would think those of you who live on the coast would be the only ones lucky enough to try your hand at this dainty plant.

Ferns generally mix well with anything although there are certain plants which emphasise their nicety and are, in return, embossed themselves. In particular Arum lilies are one of the best choices; what with their dazzling array of primrose throats and ivory heads, they and the ferns exuberate why we garden in the first place- tear-provoking moments like this when we view such harmonious display. Both arums and ferns like damp soil in shade therefore provide the idealist planting scheme for beginner and expert alike.
If someone were to ask me my favourite fern I would have to lie to them purely because I don't have a favourite- in my eyes all ferns are purposeful in a number of situations and that is what makes them better than any other plant when it comes to a shady patch in the corner of the herbaceous border or a dry slope adjacent to the lawn. When put into practice ferns are a man's best friend-well a gardener's best friend anyway- don't let me decide for you it's down to your preference. There is just one thing to remember: if you do grow a Dryopteris filix mas make sure you stumble and give it a drink of your tea (I speak from humiliating experience)- it will grow all the better for it after all...
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If someone were to ask me my favourite fern I would have to lie to them purely because I don't have a favourite...
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Sb
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 09, 2006 3:58 pm    Post subject: Good Pictures of Ferns Reply with quote

Great article and great pics of ferns Adam.
Did you take those yourself..

Are you sure there is no alcohol in that tea, with all the stumbling. Laughing
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Adamn Greathead
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 09, 2006 7:32 pm    Post subject: Thank you Reply with quote

Thanks Sb
No there isn't alcohol in the tea however, it wouldn't go a miss some days.
Glad you like the article and if there are any questions that anyone wishes to ask please don't hesitate to ask me -that's partly what i'm here for.
In regards to the photos: i do strive to add my own to my articles but, at the moment, my camera has failed me; so no, they aren't my own photos as yet but some will follow in future articles.
Best Wishes
Adam

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if there are any questions that anyone wishes to ask please don't hesitate to ask me -that's partly what i'm here for.
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Gnashers
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 13, 2007 10:56 am    Post subject: Lidl Ferns on Special Reply with quote

I see that Lidl have some Ferns on special at the moment http://www.lidl.ie/ie/home.nsf/pages/c.o.20070312.p.OutdoorFerns

Does anyone have any thoughts on them, they seem quite small - do Ferns grow relatively quickly. I've always liked ferns and I have a corner in the garden that I think would suit them.
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BlackBird
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2007 1:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Small will not be a problem if the ferns are grown under the right conditions. Shady, moist and sheltered.
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Gnashers
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2007 2:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great, I'll have to pick a few up, If I haven't missed them already!
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Jacqcat
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2007 2:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Does anyone know if osterich ferns are available in Ireland? At home we eat the immature ones (fiddleheads) as a veg and they are gorgeous!

I'd love to get my hands on a few. Very Happy
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Protein
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PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2009 9:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Can I second that?

I am dying to get my hands Matteuccia struthiopteris - such a graceful swirl of foliage. I have yet to come across any at any garden centers

p.s. never heard of an edible fern? that is interesting.... which country are you from?



me

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kindredspirit
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2009 8:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Area split equally between Giant Chain Ferns and Southern Shield Ferns.



The Giant Chain Ferns are on the far side and the Southern Shield ones nearer to the camera.

If I am lucky, the Chain Ferns will grow to 6 feet and the Shield Ferns to about 4 feet. If I'm unlucky, they'll drown.

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sal
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 1:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

hi,i was in southport last week and went to the botanical gardens,fabulous,and they had a small fernary,i picked up a few dead leaves and found lots of different seeds attached,am going to see if they grow,it was really something to see ,well for me anyway
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Protein
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 10:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Sal

Propagating ferns by spores (no seeds Wink ) is a little more challenging, but one you should try.

Here is some helpful info
http://website.lineone.net/~margaret_cole/SFG7/growing%20ferns.htm

protein

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Liparis
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 01, 2009 1:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

kindredspirit, Where did you get your ferns? I used to have an Irish mail order fern nursery in my favourites until my PC crash a couple of months ago and can't find it now.
Bill.

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http://www.species-specific.com/orchid-forum/
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kindredspirit
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 01, 2009 5:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Liparis wrote:
kindredspirit, Where did you get your ferns? I used to have an Irish mail order fern nursery in my favourites until my PC crash a couple of months ago and can't find it now.
Bill.


Mike at www.shadyplants.ie in Clashmore, Co. Waterford.

(I think he sells a lot of them on ebay.}

I can recommend him.

Kevin.

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kindredspirit
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 01, 2009 5:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Protein wrote:
I am dying to get my hands Matteuccia struthiopteris - such a graceful swirl of foliage. I have yet to come across any at any garden centres



me



Shadyplants.ie have them.

P.S. I have NO connection to shadyplants.

(Only bought ferns from them.)

Quote:
Matteucia orientalis- Oriental Ostrich fern Plug A lovely Asian species of Matteucia with long, arching deciduous fronds. The larger fertile fronds are upright and decorative throughout winter. prefers moist soil in dappled shade.

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Protein
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 01, 2009 11:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

thanks KS - i actually found him via his ebay transactions - I will get some stuff from him in spring as I have been banned from buying more plants this year Sad
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