September 14, 2006

Shield ferns

Spinulose sheild fernI haven't written before about my spinulose shield ferns aka Dryopteris spinulosa (how's that for a name and a half?) There's a reason for that. They just don't draw much attention to themselves. They're not exactly superstars in plant catalogues either - I haven't seen them anywhere. These were dug from the wild and given to me, or I never even would have heard of them.

But they're solid little workhorses, providing dependable clumps of green in shady corners with the elegance one associates with ferns. Being semi-evergreen, the colour lasts a long time too. Semi-evergreen means that when the snow clears out in the spring, you will find green fronds in place. But they're bedraggled and flattened and you might just as well clip them off. A new crop is coming anyway.

Quite honestly, I would make no great effort to find spinulose ferns if I didn't already have them. But if I wanted medium-sized, dependable ferns, I'd happily spring for one of the close relatives that are more commonly available, like male ferns or wood ferns. In the meanwhile, I have them tucked into all kinds of corners as fillers. As any regular reader of this blog knows, I plant as tightly as possible, to make it as difficult for my cat as I can, so anything that will thrive in poorly lit, out-of-the-way corners is welcome. The one in the picture is pretty well the only one that gets a foreground role.

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Xris said...

This is one of my favorite ferns. The're sooo ... ferny. They look delicate and provide a fine foliage texture which is a great contrast for bold-leaved shade-loving plants, eg: the ubiquitous Hosta. But they're also hardy as stones in the right conditions.

Janet said...

You have expressed well what I wanted to say, and somehow couldn't find a way to say. They're so "ferny". If you think of a fern, you think of something that looks just like a shield fern.

And I do have one tucked in behind my Captain Kirk hosta, just as you suggested. It makes a nice little lace ruff for it. I am glad to have them, I just don't know if there is anything about this particular species that makes it stand out from the others. Do feel free to enlighten me if I'm missing something.