This spring I’m hoping that some Polypodiums will help me in some hard to plant up areas! In our rock banking there are numerous crevices between the stones that needed to be cemented to keep back the ever persisting erosion caused by sudden flooding as well as a intense water table causing some stones to slip. It works well to keep the erosion at bay but then these areas become barren with out much life. I don’t doubt that over time with some organic material that would gather up some nice specimens may emerge, but I wanted to quicken this process, and a fern experiment is fun.
We have several old clumps of Polypodiums at Harlow Carr and one was infested with some persistent Symphytum which dominated its fronds. This gave me an opportunity to break it apart and divide out its rhizomes and showcase it another way. I just needed to be super careful to avoid planting back any Symphytum roots as they are so similar.
In the cemented crevice I actually first put a small layer of our grey clay here so the compost has something to attach onto. and gave the mix some weight. I also used the clay here because I’m so close to the waters edge, during a storm the water levels rise and the flow can be intense , easily washing away anything not well rooted. The lack of drainage is a concern but over time its my hope that the Polypodiums will mature and catch more organic matter and crawl over the stones. I could also make a bowl shape with the clay as well to hold the compost in a vertical crack.
It’s my hope these crevices ‘green up’ with ferns , especially some lovely creeping and crawling Polypodiums!
There have been a few ferns that have stuck out at Harlow Carr recently amidst all the snow and freezing temperatures we have had. And even one that gives a more exotic feel in cold days, that being the Blechnum chilense! Also Woodwardia fimbriata has remained a great wintergreen addition in areas without much above ground. These have both been great tough and beautiful ferns so far along the streamside this winter!
The Tree ferns at Harlow Carr are all wrapped up for winter, but I couldn’t help appreciate them with the snow on them! We always look forward to seeing their new fronds emerge in summer and this year after this winter cold it will be even more exciting!
At Harlow Carr we have been in the middle making an Exotic garden full of great foliage plants, it will also serve as a Secret Garden with lush plantings, a small glass house and arches for vines to grow with a winding pathway that takes you through it all. Among the plants will be some Tree ferns with some great mature trunks that will gives that mystery and adventure a Exotic garden can have. However with this lack of rain we have been receiving over the last couple of months we are a bit worried they may be in a bit of a shock. So Horticulturalist Russ Watkins came up with the idea of wrapping the trunks with hessian fabric to maintain a bit of the moisture and also keep them cooler. This also helps when there is a high demand for other plants needing water at the moment around the garden and a small task force at hand. So far so good and they seem to be maintaining their moisture, fingers crossed!
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!
Lastly for today a quick mention of some Autumn colour of a fern that I’ve cheered about in a past post. I claimed earlier this year Phegopterisconnectilis to be my favourite fern and today I discovered its lovely autumn colour! Planted with a still going strongly green Dryopteris affinis ‘Cristata The King’ it stands out. It also contrasts well with the purple colour of Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’ and the blue shades of Cheilanthes lanosa.
This is just a quick look at some ferns that were planted in some pots for the summer season at Harlow Carr. They did so exceptionally well its encouraged me to try more ferns in pots in the future.
They are in an area of the garden that’s shady and damp and were providing some lower level planting under some Acer palmatum trees in the pots.
I used some lush Polystichum munitum for a deep leathery contrast against some bright green Adiantum fern. The Adiantum is a houseplant species, chosen for its longer fronds and peachy tinge it wont survive outside this winter but will be lifted out very soon! I should mention the lovely Acer was ‘Orange Dream’.
In another pot, Polystichum braunii is planted with some limey green and red stem Athryrium otophorum var. okanum and Adiantum capillus – veneris. Accompanying all the ferns was a Salaginella sp.that really provided a lovely soft cloud cushion of green!
If or when the pots need to be emptied all the ferns will happily find a home in our woodland! But at the moment I cant bare to take them out!
This made me smile, so I wanted to share it! At Harlow Carr we recently installed a couple water fountains for visitors to use. And the creative gentleman responsible for the building, Aidan Pound our Building services manager, had a wonderful idea to make it more garden friendly! He proposed giving it a fern roof! The area this one is located in is shady and damp so its the perfect habitat. Normally he builds structures with living roofs in sunny areas with bug hotels attached. When he asked for some small ferns I knew right where to go! At this time of the year before Autumn makes all the foliage disappear I weed out all the self sown ferns in the Dryopteris collection and find them new homes! So for this one I gave him some young Aspleniums, Dryopteris and Athyriums with some accompanying Asarum europaeum and Primula veris for contrast.
Its been a great way to help catch water and create a wildlife habitat, as well as inspiring me all the fun ways you can use ferns. It really does make me smile when I see it.