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Ferns Reign in the Shade By Iain Jack


Plumose oak fern.


'Lady in Red' fern.


that make them tough, adaptable and dependable garden plants.


F Plan for success With 12,000 species worldwide, ferns have developed


a variety of growing strategies. Some are colonizers able to cover large areas. These make great groundcov- ers creating loose, informal effects. Others form crowns that grow with age but remain reliably in the spot they’re put. Architectural plants, often graceful vase-shapes, they make stunning specimens that can lend a formal feeling to


34 • Spring 2016


Athyrium 'Ghost' foliage.


erns are the quintessential shade plants, evoking impressions of cool green places. Around for 400 million years, they are survivors with characteristics


'Brilliance Autumn' fern.


spaces. In between these two extremes are slowly spread- ing ferns that create well-behaved patches. A world of ferns


Considering the habit of your fern choices will make


them garden citizens to enjoy for years. Listed below is a sample of some of the ferns to try, all hardy to zones 3 or 4. Colonizing: With tiny wing-like foliage held horizon-


tally to the ground, oak fern (Gymnocarpium dryopteris) is a refreshing-green, 6 inch-tall groundcover in rich, mois- ture-retentive soil. Space allowing, consider the spring edible Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris). With a beautiful shuttlecock form growing to four feet it has big


localgardener.net


Photo courtesy of Bailey Nursery.


Photo courtesy of Ball Horticultural.


Photo courtesy of Bailey Nursery.


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