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September 2013

Tuesday 17thSeptember 

FERNS

Peter of Bowden's Hostas talked about Ferns

Devon used to be the Mecca for pteridomaniacs, the fern collectors of the Victorian era, and, despite their depredations, the steep Devon banks still drip with polypody, asplenium, dryopteris and polystichum. Polypody is almost indestructible and as at home behind a wheelie bin in a city garden as it is in a rural wood. The species has bright green, simple fronds and spreads readily, its strong, wandering roots binding loose soil. There are selections such as Polypodium interjectum 'Cornubiense' that

Devon used to be the Mecca for pteridomaniacs, the fern collectors of the Victorian era, and, despite their depredations, the steep Devon banks still drip with polypody, asplenium, dryopteris and polystichum. Polypody is almost indestructible and as at home behind a wheelie bin in a city garden as it is in a rural wood. The species has bright green, simple fronds and spreads readily, its strong, wandering roots binding loose soil. There are selections such as Polypodium interjectum 'Cornubiense' that have more finely cut fronds, but polypody is a straightforward plant valued for its ability to thrive cheerfully in any circumstance rather than to provide lacy distractions. Leave such frippery to the soft shield fern, Polystichum setiferum, which is positively frothy, especially in its 'Divisilobum' form in the softest green with shaggy, rusty stems.

There are plenty of native evergreen ferns, but there are many exotic species that should be made to feel at home, too. Of them all, Dryopteris erythrosora from China and Japan is especially welcome for its graceful, polished fronds that are a rich orange and ginger when they first unfurl.

From an article by Carol Klein in The Guardiancommon-ferns