Perhaps not quite as exotic as the variety that I found in the Botley graveyard but a nice thing to find in a natural setting There were several of these small plants growing by a path through the woods near Buriton, Hampshire
Another experiment at Harlow Carr this year is placing more ferns right in the flood zone in our new streamside bed. After seeing what has survived our wet winter with the flooding that took place in parts, I’m going back in to other areas to see how much further I can push a fern! This time I am putting one right on its own island next to a rock edge that I built up with stone. During dryer months it wont see much water but could be potentially submerged in storms for good parts of the winter. I am trying this with a Osmunda regalis ‘Purpurascens’. Already its mature, so I’m hoping this helps. Its my hope that these plantings at the waters edge will green up and soften the stone. In addition the idea is to also see if it aids in slowing the storm water down a bit as the sediment builds up around them creating more space to grow into. Though if this specimen does take to its new home, I will have to keep it to a smaller size as they
can grow to a respectable size.
But to my surprise what I didn’t take into account is the awesome shadow that takes place on the stone behind it. I do hope others will be able to see this from afar! This majestic fern has always been one to watch through the seasons at all its stages of growth.
Dryopteris crassirhizoma is a fern I am impressed with every year in the garden and this year I was determined to give it its due attention. Its one of the earliest ferns to come up at Harlow Car and has a wonderful lime green tinge that always shines in that soft spring light that comes through the branches of the trees. Its illuminated! But even more I love it for its sturdiness. It has a soft appearance that is carried on a thick dark coloured rachis full of scales. Its also impressed me growing so close to tree roots as well as surviving drought conditions at the bases of these trees. Its defiantly one I would like to consider more to create a back bone to a bed in the future!
Dear all As we are not having any meetings up to the end of June, if not longer, I thought it would be nice to send out a sporadic newsletter to keep in touch with some topical tips. If any of you have anything to add please let me know.
I assure you my maths are better than my English so apologise to those of you who cringe at my spelling and grammar. All pictures in this letter were taken two days ago in my Garden.
Topical tips If you have not done so already I would take any rapping off your tree ferns as they are on the moving, even were I am in the bottom of the Holmesdale valley were we are surprisingly cold. But keep some fleece on hand to drape over them just in case we have a late frost
This picture is from a Dicksonia antarctica two days ago. It is also surprising how the wind has dried up the trunk and how dry it is underneath. So I have had to start watering the trunks as the roots of the tree fern start at the crown and run down into the ground No need to worry in the summer watering into the crown in fact it helps, but this time of year try to keep the centre of the crown dry if you feel you will get any frost at night.
Removing old fronds It is a matter of how tidy you are
Some people like to leave the old fronds of Polystichum on as they suppress weeds and form a ground cover but there are some diseases that would be encouraged by this so I like to remove them as it is easier and quicker now before the growth really gets going but those of you in warmer areas it is urgent as they are moving fast. The ‘Plumoso-multilobum’ and the ‘Plumoso-divisilobum’ if you do no others they would benefit. I found that some crowns had come up out of the ground with time, so lifted them with a lump of soil and replanted them with there crown back in contact with the soil but not buried.
Harts tongues Asplenium scolopendrium The new growth on these is very brittle and I usually remove the old fronds when the new frond are like cotton buds but with this warm weather they are moving very fast I remove the old fronds as fungal diseases can make a mess of “Scollies” and I like to remove anything that will pass on anything.
Due to having a number of trees I do feed my ferns with a light scattering of Chicken poo pellets as I feel the ferns get some of it but most is sucked up by the trees and then mulch if you have anything to put on top. Difficult at the moment for those of us who do not have access to mulch.
Other ferns Lady ferns (Athyrium filix femina) and the Dryopteris I have removed the old fronds and were needed dropped them deeper in the ground.
Polypodium I leave these to shed there frond when they are ready not a good idea to remove them too early unless you have them under glass and keep them watered
Remember you can move ferns any time between March and October as long as the roots are in active growth but Athyrium are a bit moody if moved late in the year. Steve Coleman and I were talking and he reminded me that Athyrium filix femina ‘Acrocladon’ and Athyrium ff ‘Victorea’ ( green stemmed) is always late into grow so don’t panic!. Only a few of my lady ferns in the garden have started yet.
Other info If you are a bit of a fern collector, a rare opportunity has arrived in that a Dutch nursery that specialises in more interesting ferns. Who usually sells at shows in Europe only is now doing mail order, his name Wouter van Driel get his latest availability by email Also Fibrex nurseries and Crawford Hardy Ferns are still sending out ferns mail order.
Araiostegia perdurans planted last Autumn on a old tree fern trunk Robert from Penrith gave me. It has survived frost out side all winter and is now shooting. I will let you know how it gets on. The great Tim Pyner ( sorley missed) said to me of course its hardy it deciduous.
Also on the tree fern trunk and planted at the same time is Pyrrosia similis (some tell me it is a form of Pyrrosia lingua ) .In the Nederland’s they have been growing this fern out side for years Once again this has been outside in my cold garden all winter ,My garden is a lot colder than Liverpool! The Nederland’s had -5°c 2 weeks ago
A very rare fern grown from spore from Athyrium felix femina ‘Acrocladon’. Found by Monkman on the edge of the north Yorkshire Moors in 1860. Growing in my greenhouse The spore came off a plant in Ian Unsworth’s garden which we believe is the last in existence unless you know better? I have 3 sporlings all subtly different and a crown from Ian
Hope you found this useful and interesting, If there is anything else you would like covered please let me know Please keep safe Julian