The fronds of the Ostrich fern have a soft suede texture.The fronds of a fern may seem delicate and lacy, but looks are deceiving. Among the most ancient plants on earth, ferns were around at the time of the dinosaurs.
In my garden, ferns light up shady corners and thrive in the dappled light under the protective canopy of a large maple.
The Japanese Ghost Fern is a chalky green accented with streaks of burgundy.
Japanese Painted Ferns are accented are a metallic grey-green with streaks of burgundy.
I love the dark red stems of and fine, soft green fronds of my Lady Fern. While ferns tolerate short periods of drought in my garden, I find they prefer moist soil augmented with lots of organic matter.
To compliment the ferns and add textural interest, I have added a number of shade tolerant perennials that have delicate fern-like foliage. Here are a few of my favourites:
Yellow Fumitory has beautiful silver foliage and is covered with tiny yellow blooms from May to September. Be warned though, it is a rampant self-seeder!
Astilbe, (seen in the foreground) not only has handsome fern-like foliage, it has elegant floral plumes in mid-summer.
Dwarf goat's beard has tiny white flowers and is a great rock garden perennial.
Snakeroot fern-like leaves are accented with deep burgundy . It has dainty white flowers not unlike Queen Anne's Lace. Snakeroot readily self-seeds and I often find that it has made a home in unexpected places.