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Beautiful ferns

Some of my ferns seem to be enjoying the strange weather we have been having in Portsmouth
A very cold but sunny April was followed by a very rainy summer
These ferns have all survived one winter with me and are growing in a gravel bed


Blechnum longicauda

In July 2017, I went on the BPS trip to northern Ireland in the company of Tim Pyner, Alison Evans and Martin Rickard
Martin kindly took us to Mount Stewart, where he had helped in chosing some very beautiful and exotic ferns and introduced us to some of the staff
We were allowed to take some “bulbils” of Blechnum longicauda
I planted mine in my polythene tunnel and it has produced one “baby” from a bulbil with perhaps another two on the way
This year, for the first time, it produced a fertile spike, which I have attempted to photograph

Adiantum capillus-veneris in Buriton August 2021

Adiantum capillus-veneris seems to be thriving on the Railway Bridge at Buriton
I counted at least 14 independant plants and it seems to be spreading to new areas of the wall
It maybe the repairs to the bridge have slowed down the rate that the water percolates down the wall or it maybe the high rainfall we have been having

See my previous posts on this subject

Wisley July 2021

The new Events Hall in the Hilltop Centre at RHS Wisley played host to a show staged by the BPS and the Carnivorous Plant Society on 24th and 25th July. The venue was excellent and there was considerable interest shown by the public. Stands of hardy ferns were created by Julian Reed and Peter Clare, and by Jude Lawton. Pat Acock displayed a wide range of equisetums and Peter Blake displayed tender ferns for indoor culture. Stuart Worth had a display of unusual tender epiphytes and commercial stands were manned by Crawford Hardy Ferns, Maidenhead Aquatics and Fibrex. It is likely that this show will take place again next year on 23rd and 24th July 2022

Dicksonia antarctica

I went to see Jurgen Schedler of Crawford Hardy Ferns, Spetisbury and he showed me his attempts at resucitation of large Dicksonia antarctica plants

The idea is that new roots can grow from the crown down under the polythene down to the ground and provide more sustinence to the plant
Dicksonia antarctica plants start to show their unhapiness not by dying immediately but by creating a “cigar” shape as the trunk begins to narrow at the top
The plants can last a few years after this starts to occur but then they eventually die. The fronds will grow smaller every year
This is not because of cold but because of water deprivation
He leaves the plastic on for 18 months to 2 years

Dryopteris ramosa

I have had this fern for many years growing on my allotment and I have no idea where I got it and what it was. If you gave it to me, please email me and let me know! It has a relatively fast growing horizontal rhizome and the fronds are around 90 cms tall

I sent these pictures to Christopher Fraser-Jenkins and this is what he wrote

That’s another old Himalayan friend of mine, Dryopteris ramosa – an interesting and rare case of a West Himalayan endemic. As far as I could guess its nearest relative is the Japanese endemic D. shiroumensis. Nothing in the east Himalaya or China like it!

There is another descriptive image here

Whilst photographing it, it shed enormous amounts of spores which I will send to the Spore Exchange

Botrychium lunaria in June in the New Forest 2021

Ashley & Jo Basil, Jurgie Schedler, Steve Munyard and myself, went back to check out the Botrychiums at Appleslade Bottom
We had a look in May but the plants seemed very small
Here are some of the larger, more handsome examples of Botrychium lunaria

We found 28 Botrychium lunaria plants in about 8 patches and around 5 patches of Ophioglossums containg too many plants to count
At this time of year the Ophioglossums look like Ophioglossum azoricum so I am totally confused as to what exact species they are, unless both Ophioglossum vulgatum and Ophioglossum azoricum are here and the Ophioglossum azoricum come up a bit later

These plants grow in a field which also has bracken. The bracken is now about 12 inches high but the fronds have not fully unfolded. However they make finding the little plants more dificult. This might explain why we found less Botrychiums than in May

Previous reports can be found here

Botrychium lunaria in May in the New Forest 2021

Ashley & Jo Basil, Jurgie Schedler and myself, went back to check out the Botrychiums at Appleslade Bottom

We found 45 Botrychium lunaria plants in about 10 patches and around 12 patches of Ophioglossums containg too many plants to count
In the past I thought we were seeing Ophioglossum azoricum but this year the plant I photographed looked like Ophioglossum vulgatum
I am basing this solely on the number of segments on the fertile spike (around 8 in azoricum and 12 or so in vulgatum)
I do not know if this is a reliable indicator
All of these plants were very small and we wondered if the recent cold nights had retarded their growth

Recording very small plants is very difficult so I experimented with using CDs put on the floor and trying to photograph them from the air using a Mavic Mini drone

I have digitally enhanced the CDs but I am not sure this is of much use
The day was overcast and perhaps they would have shown up better in bright sunshine
This recording method needs more thinking about

Previous reports can be found here

Polypodium to the Rescue

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!

Polypodium overtaken by Symphytum
Polypodium rhizome
Polypodium planting in cemented crevice
Planting with clay in cemented crevice
Compost ready crevice