Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Fern Fascination

I am a fan of ferns. I love their feathery fronds and the way they carpet the forest floor. That's probably enough alliteration now. They are rather magical, though. At this time of year I think they are at their best.

They are prehistoric creatures, uncoiling every spring like emerging dinosaurs. Having lain dormant all winter, they awaken, making perfect little spirals and unfurling their fronds before your very eyes.

This one is particularly pretty, a delicate fern whose name I've forgotten.

In the early evening light the sun caught its newly unfurled fronds.

It reminds me of delicate green lace or fine crochet.

In the corner of the garden is this graceful creature whose lovely expansive flat fronds spread in a fan-like manner, making a dingy corner rather beautiful.

I think this one is a shuttlecock fern and we have several.

It's tall and strong, taking up the space around it in the most assertive manner. When the light shines through its fronds it's a thing of beauty.

There's a mathematical precision about the arrangement of its blades along the stem, so even and regular (I do like discovering the botanical names of parts of plants).

And yet still it likes to twist into its own idiosyncratic shapes.

We have a hart's tongue fern which is perhaps my favourite. Woods and forests are full of them in the shadiest, dampest places and I love their flat, strap-like fronds which are named after the deer who live in such places.

Another shade-lover is this tiny maidenhair asplenium fern. It grows in nooks, crannies and crevices in walls and between rocks and I am very fond of it indeed. This one is about 13 years old and it's a souvenir from the Lake District. We stayed in a slate cottage which had garden walls which were absolutely covered in hundreds of these sweet little ferns. I fell in love with them in the week we were there and at the end of the week carefully prised a tiny one out from the wall and brought it home. Since then it's been growing happily in this pot just outside our back door. I do love the precision of its tiny fronds and think it's very dainty.

I love having ferns in our garden. They are not the stars of the show and at first sight they blend into the background in shades of green, but they have their own personalities and look especially good in the wild carpeting the ground in a wood or forest.

And they turn the most beautiful shades of russet, orange and brown in the autumn. Something to look forward to, but I love them best in the spring.


  1. What a gorgeous post. I love the fern collage. We have a few ferns but I'm not sure of their names - you've made me want to rush out and buy a lot more. It poured down here yesterday, so I think today might be a gardening day; I love weeding after it has rained. I shall try to identify our ferns! Enjoy the rest of half term. xx

  2. Some of them are like a load of seahorses! Great photos Cathy x

  3. Im also a fan of ferns ..you have made beautiful picture of the ferns
    I have two ... but to stand in the shade here,, otherwise it's way too hot....

  4. I love ferns too, we have a few (not as many varieties you have shown), I love watching their fronds unfurl each spring xx


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