Above is a nice shot of a waterfall with plenty of ferns in the Japanese garden of Butchart Gardens in B.C. Canada. The ferns are primarily the broadly native maidenhair fern (Adiantum pedatum) which is one of my "textural favorites." My plant focus today is on awesome ferns starting with the letter A (well, at least their Latin name starts with an A). There are so many great ferns for the garden and their value goes beyond just visual texture. Many offer color, form, function and they can also be effective groundcovers and neighbors for other garden perennials. Read more on ferns later down.
We had another productive day. Despite a forecast for plenty of snow, we haven't seen much as I type although perhaps later we'll get the 4"-7" that I was mentally preparing for after seeing the news. Pat was out in the gardens bringing in more lights from the Holiday Lights Show (HLS) and came back periodically to help process lights as well. Directly below are some luminaries that he brings in for drainage and subsequent storage. The second photo down shows some of the PVC arches that came back in for "un-decorating" by Pat, Larry and Bill. The third photo down shows just a small sample of what we're processing daily at the Horticulture Center. Bill O. was in to help Larry and Dick H. was in for some projects. Dr. Gredler came in for painting and Janice continued work on our Thomas Jefferson / Monticello themed display for 2014-2015. We also had a Garden Development & Maintenance Committee Meeting which included Dr. Gredler, Big John, Dr. Gredler, Gary, Larry H. and Maury.
RBG has a fern & moss garden that displays well over 200 different types of ferns from around the world. I always appreciated ferns but not fully until I saw the wide range of textures, colors and uses for the hardy ferns that can be used in the Midwest. Ferns are all to often just used as textural filler in our part shade and shady gardens. While they will be effective as textural foils and neighbors with other perennials, ferns can be long-lived, functional and beautiful components in our shadier gardens. I always preach that our success with any species/type of fern is directly related to our ability to replicate where they grow natively. That may (or may not) mean rich soils, high humidity, ample moisture, etc. Ferns will thrive when happy (although be wary of overly aggressive species) and will let you know when they are not. As I started this blog, I realized there were enough ferns, like the maidenhair ferns (Adiantum pedatum) directly above, starting with the letter A to show some fun ones to look for. Some of my favorite Japanese painted ferns (Athyrium niponicum and hybrids) as well as lady fern (Athyrium filix-femina and hybrids) can be seen below. There are also some nice hybrids between Japanese painted ferns (Athyrium niponicum var. pictum) and lady ferns (Athyrium filix-femina). In regards to the painted ferns, it is important to note that coloration will vary from spring to summer to fall and average coloration may vary year to year. In come cases, it takes a year or two for a selection to "mature" in to the best coloration. Some of the varietal differences in painted ferns are indistinguishable but I've included those that I feel have marked color differences.
standard Japanese painted fern (Athyrium niponicum var. pictum)
'Silver Falls' Japanese painted fern (Athyrium niponicum)
'Burgundy Lace' Japanese painted fern (Athyrium niponicum)
'Pewter Lace' Japanese painted fern (Athyrium niponicum)
'Applecourt' crested Japanese painted fern (Athyrium niponicum)
'Ghost' fern (Japanese painted fern + lady fern hybrid) - Athyrium hybrida
'Branford Rambler' hybrid painted fern (Athyrium hybrida)
'Branford Beauty' hybrid painted fern (Athyrium hybrida)
standard lady fern (Athyrium filix-femina)
criss-cross lady fern (Athyrium filix-femina 'Vernoniae Cristata')
'Parsley' lady fern (Athyrium hybrida)
'Encourage' lady fern (Athyrium filix-femina)
'Dre's Dagger' lady fern (Athyrium filix-femina)
tatting fern (Athyrium filix-femina 'Frizelliae')
close-up of above
'Lady in Red' lady fern (Athyrium filix-femina var. angustum forma rubellum)
silvery glade fern (Athyrium thelypteroides)