Wednesday, 25 July 2012


One of the things I did during my week off last week was to plant a fledgling fernery in our back garden. (Back row: Dryopteris erythrosora, Adiantum pedatum Miss Sharples, Polystichium setiferum; Front row: Athyrium niponicum var dictum 'Apple Court', Polystichium setiferum Congestum.)

fossil fernI'm not sure why I love ferns so much. Perhaps it's because (as a group) they date back to Devonian times (360+ million years ago) and feature among some of the oldest plant fossils we have. This one (right) is a Carboniferous example from the excellent Oxford University Museum of Natural History. I always feel that there is something a bit prehistoric about places that are rich in ferns. (Grasses did not come on the scene for another 300 million years or so.)
curled fernOn the other hand, it could simply be something to do with how aesthetically pleasing I find them. I love the way that they are all curled up as they grow, such as this great specimen from our honeymoon last year in Belize (left). It also pleases me the way the ends of the fronds are sometimes curled, as in the fern below from our trip to Cheddar Gorge last week (below).

Either way, I am glad that we now have some ferns in our garden and hopefully I can keep them alive! They are all hardy, so fingers crossed. I probably should have paid a bit more attention to which ones were evergreens and planted the two deciduous ones (A. pedatum and A. niponicum) either both at the front or both at the left. The evergreens on the right should look nice in winter with the holly - hopefully the Dryopteris erythrosora won't look too silly when it's two neighbours lose their leaves.
cheddar fern

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