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Evergreen Dryopteris 'The King' in late autumn.

Athyrium pictum Ball.

Early fronds of Japanese painted fern.

Fancy wood fern.

impact. It can really cover ground, but don’t worry – if it gets out of hand, just eat it! Both are native to most parts of Canada. Crown-forming: Male ferns and Wood ferns (Dryopter-

is spp.) are good examples. Many are evergreen, drought tolerant once established, and a few even take some sun given ample moisture. An additional bonus, the fiddle- heads are adorned with shaggy or papery scales in bronze or gold hues. Crested golden male fern (D. affinis ‘The King’) is a deep-green, robust fern with tassel-looking fronds. Smaller in stature, fancy wood fern (D. interme- dia) is one of our laciest-looking native. Patch-forming: Lady ferns

(Athyrium spp.) politely

fill space gradually and can be divided every three to five years. Favourites include our native red-stemmed 'Lady in Red' (A. angustum) and Japanese painted fern (A. niponi- cum var. pictum) with fronds of metallic burgundy, silver and green that really light up shady spots. For best effect give these ladies a loose, moisture-retentive soil in bright to dappled shade.

Spring ostrich fern. Planting for success When planting containerized plants, follow the rule-of-

thumb “plant at the same depth as it is in the pot.” With bare-root plants or divisions consider the following: Colo- nizing and patch-forming ferns grow from underground rhizomes and should be planted just slightly below the soil surface. Crown-forming ferns should be planted with the crown above the soil surface. Burying it will cause rot and eventually kill the plant. Ferns are easy to grow, very low-maintenance garden

plants. Most appreciate moist, humus-rich, well-draining, slightly acidic soil. However, as in nature, this ideal isn’t always available in the garden. If you have stony or season- ally dry soil, don’t despair. A site prepared with compost or leaf-mould and seasonal moisture-retaining top dress- ing of mulch are all that’s required. So, no matter what type of shade you have, there’s a fern for that place! s Iain Jack is owner of Fernwood Plant Nursery, an online

mail-order nursery specializing in hardy garden ferns located in St. Margaret’s Bay, NS.

Spring 2016 • 35

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