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Comment from Sonia frew


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Hi, I have an area of roughly 8m x 4m that is north facing as well as being shaded by a neighbours six foot hedge and large trees and I would love to make it a fern woodland type area, I would like to be able to walk through it so a weaving path through my 4m wide plot...I have no idea about what could be achieved and how hard are ferns to care for? I am a pretty inexperienced gardener... Any suggestions?

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  • Replies: 5
  • Posted: Sun. 13th January 2013 22:12

Re: Fern garden...

Reply from neil

I would mix Dryopteris Erythrosora with a few Athyriums to give contrast of height and colour. Asplenium Scolopendrium would give good shape contrast as well. A nice Matteuccia would make a sizable center fern. I'm a big fan of fern trees, so I would consider investigating these as well. Any collection of ferns is great to be honest!

  • Posted: Mon. 14th January 2013 11:16

Re: Fern garden...

Reply from mike keep

Polystichum x Dycei is a wonderful adaptable fern that will cope with these conditions with ease. Fully evergreen glossy deep green foliage, growing to four foot or so and very easy to grow (dig a small hole, plant, water....and that's it!) make this a choice plant for most conditions. For a little colour, Dryopteris erythrosora will grow well there. It is evergreen (well evercolourful is more accurate as the young fronds are rose/orange maturing to deep green then to yellow green through the winter and early spring). Any Dryopteris affinis or Dryopteris filix-mas species or cultivar will also look great and will offer variety with frond shape and length.

Re: Fern garden... (14/01/2013)Re: Fern garden... (14/01/2013)

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  • Posted: Mon. 14th January 2013 20:03

Re: Fern garden...

Reply from Sue Tallents

I love ferns and other shady garden plants, maybe because they suit my garden!
It might be worth trying a scattering of small bulbs to add some winter colour - snowdrops are incredibly shade tolerant, also Winter Aconites (Eranthis hyemalis). Hellebores are good companions to ferns if you want a bit more variety (H corsicus or foetidus especially), and are tolerant of a lot of shade, likewise the spotty leaved lungworts (Pulmonaria). Native primroses and bluebells should also do well. I could go on!! You could leave the tree leaves to rot down and make a natural weed suppressant. The path could be bark for a natural look.

Re: Fern garden... (15/01/2013)Re: Fern garden... (15/01/2013)Re: Fern garden... (15/01/2013)

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  • Posted: Tue. 15th January 2013 15:55

Re: Fern garden...

Reply from Sonia frew

Oh wow, thanks for the informative replies! All of your suggestions seem just I am looking for, I have been researching a bit and am I right in thinking I should wait till autumn to start my woodland?and I've been reading a lot about splitting the plants, do you need to do this or can they be planted and left to there own devices? Thanks again.

  • Posted: Tue. 15th January 2013 19:35

Re: Re: Fern garden...

Reply from Di Jackson

I wouldn't split a fern. Hellebores are also supposed to be fussy about moving (mine self seed and I move the seedlings - but I haven't tried moving an "adult" plant, and none of the seedlings have got old enough to flower yet - it takes them a good few years undisturbed I believe). I find pulmonaria is happy to be divided and also self-seeds, so if it's happy you should pretty quickly end up with more plants than you want. Bluebells and primroses should similarly spread themselves around, but can certainly be moved (and/or divided in the case of primroses).

Sounds lovely: my garden is very shady and I have a couple of ferns and all the plants recommended above, and they all seem pretty happy in dry shade! Also Dicentra (now called Lamprocapnos - but always seems to be labelled dicentra at garden centres: I particularly like the white one for shady spots!), Euphorbia and hardy cyclamen may be worth a look for that kind of situation.

As for when to start, although autumn is probably safest (a nice combination of warm and wet!) I don't see why you shouldn't start now if you don't want to wait (more expert gardeners may correct me!) The only danger is it is quite late in the spring, so you will need to water well if we get dry weather (ha!): but I'm pretty sure I planted my ferns around this time of year last year, and they are doing fine.

  • Posted: Mon. 29th April 2013 17:06