May Blog 2019

Spring greetings from Harlow Carr! About 3-4 years ago a young gardener by the name of Tom Cutter asked me what my favourite fern was, but I couldn’t answer, there are too many, it was like asking me who was my favourite pet! So after all this time I have an answer Tom, Its Phegopteris connectilis, the Beech Fern! I have waited to write this blog now since I was kindly asked to write a few for the website, as I knew then it’s a wonderful native gem! I don’t know if this is too simple of a choice as it doesn’t shout any great colours or other features but its simplicity makes it great! And in addition finding it growing wild on damp slopes in Yorkshire has been a great treat.

Here are some its aesthetic features I adore, its blade rises above a tall stem that seems too thin and fragile to carry it. It reminds me of when a puppy is growing into its gangly long legs. The blade itself is of a soft green hairy texture and is a triangular shape with the lower part of the frond sticking out upwards away from the rest of the frond which is a unique feature. Overall it’s a delicate fern with a soft appearance and texture. We grow it here in moist shady areas where the soil is loose so that its wiry rhizomatous growth can creep through and get established. After a short time it can create a loose lovely airy groundcover in a way. Most groundcovers can be dense in nature so finding one that is unobtrusive adds a softer texture to woody areas. We have been utilizing it here to grow amongst spring bulbs and other short season plants, so that once they are finished the P. connectilis takes its place, but never really dominates it and strangles out the spring plants. One such plant it has been growing is Trilliums where the two leaf shapes contrast with one another wonderfully. This past autumn we lifted several clumps and divided out the rhizomes, we made sure we had a few growth points and potted them on to gain root. We recently placed them out and planted them with some Trillum simile to become a carpet in the area when they are finished flowering.

So finally there it is, a favourite fern of mine, however I hope I’m allowed to have a few favourites and hope I discover many more along the way!

Moonwort monitoring in the New Forest 2019

Jo and Ashley Basil and Roger Golding went out to Linwood to do annual monitoring of the Moonwort. They found 58 plants, none were very big, the maximum size was 100mm. Last years count was about 30 plants, but the bracken was up then so it was more difficult to find them. This year they looked full and well hydrated, last year’s were rather dry. They did not think there has been any change in the population and they were all are in the same area. Jo found a new patch of Adders tongue which were bigger and more developed than had been seen on previous years.

Strange Hart’s Tongue Fern Part 2

If you read my previous post, you might remember that I found a strange (and maybe even attractive!) cultivar of Asplenium scolopendrium growing around a tomb/grave in the church yard of All Saints Church in Botley, Hampshire, in October 2016.
I collected some spores of this plant and have eventually managed to raise about 10 small plants. At the moment they do not look too much like the parent. They bifurcate and they also have this sublineate thickening but they seem wider like more normal A. scolopendrium. Perhaps they will develop more like the parent as they mature
I noticed that there were several cultivars that grow around the grave, in combination with “normal” plants. There seem to be a variation in the cultivars, some are more extreme than the others

If you are interested in A. scolopendrium monsters, please email me and I can send you a plant