Planting a fernery

Planting a fernery

I’ve always had a soft spot for ferns and find they evoke a sense of a primaeval, Jurassic period where dinosaurs ruled the world.

By Scott J Millin


I love seeing the fronds as they slowly unwrap into beautiful architectural foliage; they turn what is essentially a shady border into a calm and relaxing retreat.

Not all ferns tolerate a dry location, so make sure you check the plant label as some ferns prefer damp shade. Because the position for my ferns is under a couple of salix flamingo trees, they need to be able to cope relatively well in a dry situation.

I have chosen a selection of different ferns to give interest, including the painted lady fern, a favourite of mine as the foliage colour tends to be quite pretty. Japanese painted lady ferns prefer moist soil, but as they mature, they become more drought resistant. Given a shady spot that receives good morning sunlight enhances the colours of the painted lady foliage that make these ferns so unique.

Wild strawberries line the edge of the fernery

Along the front edge of the border, I have planted some wild strawberries. I’m informed they hold an intensely sweet taste when ripe. However, they are usually long gone before I get to enjoy them, thanks to Mr blackbird and a cheeky hedgehog or two.

A log pile sits at the base of the tree stumps

Wildlife remains very important to me; I have included a log pile around some of the plants and acquired a couple of tree stumps to complete the picture, not forgetting to mention my bug box too. I have even hung some fern containers on the back fence to make use of the vertical space.

Ferns hang off the back of the fence

Other planting includes the Christmas box with its intense wintersweet smell and low growing euonymus for colourful edging. Underplanting includes miniature daffodils in spring and iris in summer. The border is evergreen, so it holds year-round interest.


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