IT'S THE WEEKEND: Grow It - Ferns are a great addition to any garden
3:29pm Sunday 23rd February 2014 in News
FERNS are a good addition to any garden due to their hardy nature and willingness to grow in all conditions.
With over 12,000 species, there is a high selection of easy to grow, decorative ferns that give exciting contrast in foliage, form and colour.
They’re suitable for any moist soil where they can grow to a very attractive colour to brighten up your garden.
Many ferns thrive in the lower light levels of a wooded area, and can cultivate with success in dark, gloomy conditions. Ferns have stems, leaves and roots and like other vascular plants they reproduce via spores.
Jenny Bowden, an advisor for the Royal Horticultural Society, said: “There are a wide range of ferns and a variety that are suitable for every occasion.
“They do well in the United Kingdom due to the heavy rainfall that we have but if you can find them a dry patch in your garden then they will do a fine job there as well.
“Most ferns can grow and adapt well as long as they have moisture so the most important thing is to get some well rotted manure or leaf compost.”
Asplenium scolopendrium – known more commonly as hart's tongue fern – is an evergreen fern forming a rosette of arching, rich green, strap-shaped fronds 30cm to 75cm in length.
It is a British native fern that is normally seen on country lanes or as a mossy plant in back gardens.
This type of fern grows well in humous-rich, moist but well-drained soil. Direct sun for an extended period of time can cause damage so you have to be careful when you plant it. It is tolerant of shade but it needs to be watered regularly.
A different type of fern that is pleasing on the eye is a semi-evergreen one called polypodium. It can grow up to 0.5 metres and will cultivate well in most cool, moist, lightly shaded sites as well as in full sun if given plenty of moisture.
“It’s a really pretty type of fern,” said Mrs Bowden. “Some polypodiums dieback whereas others keep their foliage through winter. It produces classic, fern shaped leaves.
“It’s tolerant and sturdy and you’ll find it lasts a bit longer than others. You should be able to find these in most garden centres.”
One of the prettiest types of ferns that could leave your garden looking stunning is Cyrtomium falcatum – more commonly known as Japanese holly fern – which grows to a height of 0.6 metres made up of six to10 pairs of shiny bright green leaflets.
It is a very popular ornamental plant in gardens when grown in the right conditions as well as a beautiful house plant.
This fern can grow without dying in temperatures bordering on freezing, which makes it a fantastic choice for the places where other plants that you try and grow keep struggling.
“The Royal Horticultural Society has trialled it,” said Mrs Bowden. “It won the award of Garden Merit which means that it’s been deemed a good all round garden plant.
“It’s pretty, fights off diseases and it is very sturdy so it’s unlikely to die.”
If none of these so far are what you’d consider as ideal for your garden then you could invest in Athyrium niponicum ‘pictum’ – a type of fern that has blue foliage with a maroon stalk.
It is more rare but produces a beautiful colour and it combines well with other woodland plants.
Ferns in general are a fantastic addition to any garden as they don’t need much maintenance. They need to be kept moist all year long but certain varieties tolerate a wide range of conditions and are very sturdy.
They don’t grow to great heights and clipping the foliage back to the base enables them to start growing again as long as they’re not left to dry up.
There are so many varieties that ferns offer something for everyone whether you're looking for something to blossom in your garden or you just want to brighten up a room in your house.
They’re sturdy, pretty and very low maintenance – what more could you want?