Monday, March 25, 2013

Painted Ferns

Well, we had more spring snows over this past Sunday and in to this morning.  While it only amounted to 1" or so, it was enough to create some icy roads and messy sidewalks.  Warmer weather later this week and in to next week should melt the snow off so we can target spring clean-up efforts out in the gardens and remove the last of our Holiday Lights Show (HLS) displays, cords and stakes. 

The Spring Symposium went very well on Saturday and I heard nothing but positive reviews from the attendees.  All the speakers did a dynamite job and I thought is was very educational.  There was a nice, historical element to all four topics and all the speakers had a great sense of humor.  We had a total crowd close to 100 which was very comfortable for the room and the day ran very smoothly.  I didn't see a lot of traffic out in the snow-covered gardens on Saturday but we did have some symposium attendees that had not yet been to the gardens and we hope to see them back.

We had a nice turnout of volunteers today despite the snow.  Urban and Pat went out to do some pruning while the Horticulture Center was busy with plenty of other activity.  In the office, Gary was making new labels, Mandy was securing tree/shrub labels to their bases, Pat C. was working on label processing and Jumbo Jim, Stan and Karen spent time viewing Japanese garden photos for future promotions.  Ron, Jim, Dave T. and Gene did more bench sanding while Dr. Gredler worked on painting some easels in need of attention.  Maury ran an errand to Madison and Dick H. was on hand to help where needed.  We also saw Del, Bob C., Kris K., Mary W., Bill O. and many others.  We had some later meetings in the day for our Horticulture Therapy Committee and Home Garden Tour Committee.

While I've blogged regarding Japanese painted ferns (Athyrium niponicum var. pictum) in the past, I thought I'd revisit this neat group of plants.  We have around 20 different varieties of the Japanese painted fern in our fern & moss garden and are accumulating more each year.  I will say that many look very similar and the variability in coloration is most conspicuous during foliage emergence in the spring.  Within the same variety though, there is even some "side by side variability."  While some varieties have more silvering or more maroon in the foliage, they are all good garden performers and do well in partly shaded or shaded sites with decent soils and adequate moisture.  In some cases, newly planted specimens will develop better coloration over the period of a couple years.  With heights averaging around 15", the many varieties of Japanese fern are perfect for the front of the border, as a collective ground cover grouping and certainly as colorful specimens that combine well with other perennials with similar needs and expectations.

'Pewter Lace'
'Pewter Lace'
'Ursula's Red'
'Burgundy Lace'
'Applecourt' (crested)
'Samurai Sword'
'Red Beauty'
'Wildwood Twist'
'Silver Falls'
'Eco Dwarf' (only 9" tall!)

There are some fun, hybrid varieties of the crosses between the Japanese painted fern (Athyrium niponicum var. pictum) and lady fern (Athyrium filix-femina).  The combination of these two parents allows for the silvering and maroon highlights but a more significant size or different form.  The 'Ghost' fern (Athyrium hybrida) directly below is one of my favorites for essentially, a 24"-30" painted fern that is great in the mid-border.  Other crosses (all below) like 'Branford Beauty', 'Branford Rambler' (spreads moderately) and 'Ocean's Fury' (crested) have merit as well.  It will be exciting to see how many other selections of this advantageous cross will be available in our gardens in the near and distant future.

Athyrium hybrida 'Ghost'
Athyrium hybrida 'Ghost'
Athyrium hybrida 'Ghost'
Athyrium hybrida 'Branford Rambler'
Athyrium hybrida 'Branford Beauty'
Athyrium hybrida 'Ocean's Fury' (crested)
Athyrium hybrida 'Ocean's Fury' (crested)

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