Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Ancient Beauties

There is a secret garden of wild, native Ostrich ferns that is hidden under a thicket of deciduous trees in a remote part of our little valley. Few people know about it or go there, which is a bit of a shame, because the forest floor carpeted with the bright lime fronds have a magical beauty. As you brush past, a light scent catches in the air. This indescribable scent is fresh the way that lavender is fresh.

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.


  1. Hi, lovely photos on your blog.

  2. Oh my! Your flowers are just beautiful. Thanks for visiting my blog. (I lived in Huttonville for a very short time when I was five...while my parents were waiting for their house in Brampton to be built....I started school at the Huttonville Public School!)

  3. I am amazed at how similar we are with our plant loves ! I have ferns dotted in all the shady areas which are becoming larger and larger , and that is fine with me .. I am very vampire like (except for the blood thing .. and I get up very early in the morning .. a morning gal ? LOL) Sorry I get wordy ? haha
    I have Ghost and Lady in Red and many different Japanese Painted ferns and MANY Ostrich ferns !!
    I spent some childhood years playing in a beautiful untouched forest area on the Atlantic coast and LOVED it to bits .. you never forget those experiences .. the look, the touch, and the smell of ferns made me a fan even before I understand what that meant ? LOL
    This was a wonderful post and so refreshing : )


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