Thursday, June 07, 2007

Spring Rains, Lush Ferns

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Almost 9 PM. Gail and I just came in from walking Karl the wonder dog, down to the peony nursery to see what is budding up. The P. smouthii has already bloomed out three flowers and Gail missed every one. There are a couple left to come and perhaps half a dozen that appear to have been bothered by the temperature changes and the dampness. I pointed out the very tall, well buddded 'Top Brass' which should be exceptional this year. We have about 150 different peonies but some are scattered here and there and for some reason they all don't seem to get on our list.

When we move to our new location I want to bring along all the peonies and plant them around the perimeter. Peonies are great plants which are receiving plenty of publicity in garden and wedding magazines. This means that Vermont Flower Farm receives many calls this time of year from ladies planning wedding flowers. We don't sell flowers in quantity and only have a few peonies potted for sale but people find us on the Internet and give us a try.

The frequent rains have enhanced this year's crop of ferns. When I built the lower hosta garden I left all the native plants in place including the ferns. I don't know their names but they grow tall and lush and really accent the hostas and other shade plants. The Christmas and Ostrich ferns are looking very good too.

We have grown ferns from plugs before and I wouldn't do it again without a greenhouse. The little ferns can't be over watered or they'll die and the larger ferns can't dry out or they'll pass on. The in between plants look beautiful and everyone wants them. We just sold the last of our Maindenhair ferns which I think we started about three years ago. It was a losing proposition but the folks that bought them for $10 a piece got a bargain, especially at the end. I've never seen anyone who wasn't positive about those ferns.

Gardeners haven't all had an opportunity to see the latest of the painted ferns which have been released by Terra Nova and other nurseries. They are just spectacular and deserve more attention. My favorite has been Silver Falls named after the great waterfall in Oregon. I tried to get to the falls last summer when I visited out there but time was short. I have to remember the image of the special plant I have as one enters the lower hosta garden. If you visit and we aren't around to point it out, it's on the left when you turn the first corner.

A. 'Silver Falls' is a great fern which doesn't show it's real beauty until the beginning of July. It is about three weeks later than native ferns breaking ground and then it is pale green for several weeks before the bronze and red begin to develop. This picture shows that early stage and is a long way from the colors that will make you want to buy more than one. I really don't like to point out favorites and then tell people to keep looking because we don't have any to sell. Popularity keeps numbers low and keeps us sold out.

Give some ferns a try this year. Try to learn to identify some of those which are native to your area and then consider some of those I have mentioned. You'll not be disappointed.

From the mountain above Peacham Pond where Karl is snoring and the cool temperatures of the evening have quelled the accoustical performance I have grown accustomed to. As frogs sleep, I think I will too.

Gardening wishes,

George Africa

1 comment:

Xris said...

I love ferns. My first garden in NYC, in the East Village, was full shade. By the time I had to leave that garden behind, there was something like 18 species and varieties of ferns.

In my new gardens, I'm developing a shady path and native plant area. And building up a collection of ferns again.