Ferns for shade

Ferns grow best in shade, making them perfect plants to brighten up a dark, dank corner of the garden. These versatile, mysterious plants have beautiful intricate leaf forms, require minimal care and attention and are untroubled by pests and diseases. Their marvellous, architectural pinnate leaf forms look particularly impressive as they erupt from new fronds. Ferns are truly ancient plants dating back to the Carboniferous Period, maybe earlier. It is a great feeling to grow a batch of ferns in a shady spot, knowing you are seeing the same feat that a slightly observant dinosaur would have observed 65 million years ago! Some varieties of fern are evergreen, retaining their leaves all year round, while others are deciduous, dying back in autumn before their new shoots (called croziers) burst back into life again in the spring. Ferns are ideal for adding a fresh, woodland feel to a garden, working most effectively in groups, perhaps with a clambering variegated evergreen climber such as Hedera Goldheart scrambling in-between. The stately tree fern Dicksonia Antarctica should be considered a staple plant for shade in any garden. Ferns prefer an open, free-draining soil, so incorporate plenty of well-rotted organic matter when planting if you’re gardening on clay.

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