Ferns for the Garden
Ferns, glorious ferns. They grow now, as they have since the misty days of pre-history, all over the world. We in the north are blessed with a long list of hardy types. Some native to New England, some not. There are so many of them - with marvelous forms, textures, and, yes, even colors. Some for many different kinds of garden, wild or tame. Ferns for sun as well as shade, for wet, merely moist or quite well-drained soils. There are delightful miniatures and magnificent specimens. Many are lush, fluffy fillers with a glory all their own. None of them blossom. They reproduce by spore not seed, who needs flowers? Ferns offer the gardener such compelling beauty - blossoms aren’t missed. At all. They can stand alone or they can be other plants’ flattering companions. Their often fine-textured foliage magnifies the impact of bold leaves, think hosta and hellebore. Their often soothing colors can be effective foils for bright blossoms, like the classic lady fern - true lily combo. Here the fern also masks the declining foliage of the post-bloom lily, a worthy job in itself. The brighter colors of some ferns can reflect and magnify the impact of nearby blossoms like the maroon and silver of the Painted Fern playing off the pink or red spires of astilbe. Many have rich tawny to yellow fall foliage color. I’ve grown ferns for at least twenty-five years and add more to my garden every year. Here are a few oh-so-garden worthy ferns.