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People are always asking for cool and interesting plants for those shady areas in their garden. If you mention ferns, the image is of a typical sword fern that you might see in the forest, but there are so many more varieties that you can choose from! Mark from Little Prince of Oregon invited us to stop by Thicket Outdoor Living (503-926-3817), a small garden center in NE Portland to check out some really unique and interesting selections of ferns that are available on the market. We started with an ‘Autumn Fern’. These are cool because of their wonderful orange/yellow foliage that changes to green and then to red in the fall. The next two ferns didn’t look like ferns at all. Siebold’s Wood Fern has wide solid leaves that look great in a shady spot in the garden. The other one was Hart’s Tongue Fern, with undulating wide leaves which is also very ‘un-fern’ like. One fern that you should try if you have the room is the Jeweled Chain Fern. This one gets BIG, with fronds that are 6 to 8 feet long. These fronds are also a wonderful color with reds, oranges and greens all on the same frond. We move to a Ghost Fern next. It gets its name from the light and airy foliage and the silvery color of the fronds. Adria, the owner of Thicket, brought in one of her favorites, a Maidenhair Spleenwort. It is a small delicate fern that can dry out a little without damaging it. It looks really great in mass plantings since it won’t take over your garden.
As far as fern maintenance for the spring. You can take off all the old fronds and just leave the new fronds to unfurl for the season. If you are looking for a way to display lots of ferns and other woodland plants you should try a stumpery. This is an old log or stump that you plant with forest plants and just let it decay with these cool plants growing out of it. These ferns are so diverse you can find a place for them in any shady spot in your garden. For more information on where to get them you can check out the Little Prince website, or check out their Facebook page.