Architectural, versatile, colourful and dainty are just a few words to sum up this popular group of plants. Ferns provide beautiful foliage and add movement and softness to the garden. In all different shapes and sizes, they are surprisingly useful in many a situation, from walls and steep banks to shady woodland stumpery environments or even pots, containers and hanging baskets.
These are our three favourite ferns:
Asplenium scolopendrium (hart’s tongue fern)
A native fern with glossy leathery tongue like fronds. Asplenium scolopendrium will grow anywhere, even in the cracks of walls. Grows to the size 50cm x 50cm.
Cyrtomium fortunei (Japanese holly fern)
Add an oriental touch to the planting scheme with this vigorous fern which produces sword shaped lime green juvenile leaves. Grows to the size 60cm x 50cm.
Polystichum setiferum ‘Congestum’ (congested soft shield fern)
This dwarf fern produces lacy soft fronds with a fine texture which will grow in virtually any shady location. Grows to the size 30cm x 30cm.
To plant an interesting fern hanging basket, you will need:
1 x 35cm (14″) wire hanging basket
1 x 35cm (14″) natural moss look basket liner
Water storing crystals to add to compost in order to aid water retention
Small log for decorative effect
Evergreen ferns (planted in the side of the basket) including:
Polypodium vulgare (common polypody): Native fern for all soil types. Comb like fronds with deeply cut leathery leaves often covered in orange spores. Grows 30cm x 30cm.
Blechnum penna-marina (hard fern): Good ground cover fern. Produces elegant glossy dark green fronds and bronze new growth. Height 15cm.