Gold medal for the BPS stand at Southport Flower Show!

Delighted to report that our stand was awarded a Gold medal – well done Michael and team! There was a lot of interest in the stand, with many people asking for advice on growing ferns. We had one new member. Robert Crawford won the individual trophy.

The Churchtown Fernery in Southport

Here are some pictures of the fernery in Churchtown, Southport. It must be one of the largest Victorian indoor ferneries in England, at around 120 feet long. The walls are covered with artificial tufa, with hundreds of planting pockets. Cyrtomiums, Pteris, Adiantums, and Selaginella have ‘volunteered’ liberally around the walls. There are several well-grown tree ferns, a Lophosoria, Polystichums, Dryopteris, Microlepia, and many more – plus 3 large Marattioid ferns – identifications please! Donations of ferns would be very welcome – contact

If you would like to visit the Fernery, please ring the garden first to arrange for it to be open – sadly at present it is not open every day – 01704 214164

Ferns in Members Gardens update 2017

I have updated my list of ferns growing in my garden. This year I have decided to follow the nomenclature published by the Pteridophyte Phylogeny Group (PPG1) in 2016. A few examples include Blechnum split into multiple genera,  Osmunda further split and  Cornopteris and Anisocampium are placed in Athyrium. 

Even after only a few months several papers have been published that update PPG1. These include several new genera, loss of genera and generic placements. One change affects the name of a couple of ferns in my garden. In PPG1 Drynaria is lumped into Aglaomorpha, the latter being the older name. However, earlier this year Drynaria was proposed for conservation over Aglaomorpha and agreed by the nomenclatural committee. Therefore unless some unprecedented revolt takes place Drynaria should be conserved at the latest Botanical congress. I have therefore used Drynaria in my list.

Regarding losses, this last winter proved rather challenging and I lost several small plants in containers – mainly Cheilanthes and Asplenium.  I believe that the very dry conditions led to under-watering of the containers, not something I would have thought possible outside during the winter months. The plants appeared to be alive until spring when the failed to revive. It seems there are always new experiences that challenge your knowledge and I realise that I am still learning how to grow ferns!!

Woodwardia radicans with costal bulbils

Woodwardia radicans is well known for producing large bulbils towards the apex of its fronds. These occur in the axils of the distal pinnae usually on the lower surface of the rachis. I thought this was an invariable character although the number of bulbils on a frond can vary.

Last week I was was visiting the fernery at Ascog on the Isle of Bute with a group of British and European pteridologists. It came as a great surprise when Harry Roskam pointed out a plant of W. radicans  with bulbils being produced on the upper surface of the frond. They occurred on the pinnae midribs or costae of just a single frond. They were similar in structure to the bulbils found in the normal position. They did not resemble the plantlets found on the fronds of W. prolifera. About 9 bulbils were present.

Frond showing bulbils on upper surface

Bulbils on costa


Neither Harry nor I have come across this phenomenon previously and I would interested to hear from anybody who has noticed it elsewhere.

Earby Asplenium adiantum-nigrum has babies!

About a month ago I noticed two small plants to the left of the large plant on the wall by the A56 – and when I took the photo a couple of weeks later, I saw a third ‘baby’ above and to the right. Perhaps it’s something to do with the very wet weather we’ve been having?