‘Ferns’ by Neil Timms

‘Ferns’ by Neil Timms

‘Ferns’ by Neil Timms

Neil presented a fascinating talk about Ferns to our well attended October meeting.

Ferns are one of the oldest groups of land plants, first flourishing in the late Devonian period 360million years ago according to the fossil record. They predate flowering plants by 230million years as flowering plants didn’t appear until the Cretaceous period which is relatively recent in geological time.

The reproductive cycle is a two stage process. An astronomical number of spores are produced, are distributed by the wind, after which it can take 18 months before the first frond of a new fern appears. It can then take 3 or 4 years for the plant to get to a decent size.

Growing ferns is easy on the whole, although there are one or two varieties that are fussy. Rustyback likes growing on walls, and many varieties will thrives where alpines will grow, or can only be found within 50 metres of the sea. In general ferns have lots of survival strategies in order to deal with awide variety of tough environments.

Some ferns, however, grow very easily to the frustration of many gardeners. Horsetail fern is the most pernicious, seems impossible to kill as weedkiller runs off the silica surface of the fronds, and is equally impossible to dig out as they can go 40ft underground. Neil recommends that the easiest way to get rid of them…..is to move house! Another fern that we should not let loose in our garden is bracken. It is the only fern that has a spreading habit – the others grow from a crown and are compact.

The foliage and fronds come in all shapes and sizes providing architectural structure to a garden without dominating it. Their compact habit means that they won’t spread out. One interesting idea was to combine ferns with spring bulbs under the shade of a tree, thus providing interest all year round.

For more information http://www.fernnursery.co.uk/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/people/The-Fern-Nursery/100063912827154/