Crested ferns

Discussion in 'HortForum' started by chuckrkc, Mar 3, 2006.

  1. chuckrkc

    chuckrkc Active Member

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    I have become enamored of crested ferns. I already have an Athyrium filix femina 'Victoriae' waiting to go in a newly prepared bed. It has pinnae that go off in different directions forming crosses, and it has crested tips. I also am eyeing an Athyrium filix femina 'Frizelliae,' or tatting fern. Its pinnae are round, making the frond look like a flattened necklace. I have also been told about Dryopteris filx mas 'Cristata,' which author Gordon Foster says is the King of the Male Ferns. Does it deserve the title?

    Do you have a favorite crested fern?
     
  2. oscar

    oscar Active Member

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    I found filix mas cristata to be very strong, and gets a thumbs up from me, keep your eyes open for pseudomas cristata also another fine fern........both are known as the king fern (i think, dont quote me on that).

    picture of my filix mas cristata attached (i hope)
     

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  3. KarinL

    KarinL Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Dryopteris affinis 'Cristata', also called 'The King' - so described in John Mickel's book Ferns for American Gardens. There is also a Dryopteris filix-mas
    'Cristata' but it doesn't seem to be The King. You have named perhaps the two nicest crested ferns though there are many others, especially in the Dryopteris f-m, affinis, and dilatata families, for example Mickel's book has pictures of D. affinis 'Cristata Angustata', Grandiceps, and Polydactyla, all of which look quite distinctive.

    Choosing from a book is one thing, though; what kind of a collection you can acquire depends on finding a supplier. Do you have that covered?
     
  4. oscar

    oscar Active Member

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    It would appear pseudomas is The Golden male fern, i can see how some people can get confused, the guy who sold it to me must have made a mistake........anyway back to the ferns, 3 other recommendations (not crested forms, but good ferns) Dryopteris wallichiana, Dryopteris polydactyla and Dryopteris erythrosora are all worthy of a place in your garden, on the flip side a fern that i would think twice about is Dryopteris dilitata, however it does have a nice variety form called crispa whiteside.

    I collected most of my ferns at unusual plant fairs.....The ones we grow for retail sales all come in as plug plants (i believe they all come from a German grower)

    pictures of wallichiana and polydactyla (not such a good picture) attached
     

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  5. chuckrkc

    chuckrkc Active Member

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    I have a source for the Athyriums I mentioned (I have a trip planned for LeRoy, Kan., planned for April 5, if anyone wants to come along), but not the Dryopteris affinis.

    Of the noncrested types, yes, I love the Dryopteris erythrosora, also known as an autumn fern, and I think less commonly as Japnese shield fern. It has withstood our Zone 5 winters pretty well the last two years. It has a glowing, bronze and charteuse presence, expecially contrasted with the more drab rhododendron and china boy hollies near it. It is protected by being close to the house. This is the one I am going to experiment with trying to grow spores to plants. When is the best time to collect spores?

    Drypoteris wallichiana looks very graceful. I think polydacta might be interesting, too.

    Oscar, why is Dryopteris dilitata a poor selection?

    Karini, do you like Mickel's book?

    Anyone: is there a very best fern source?
     
  6. oscar

    oscar Active Member

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    if wallichiana was a ballet dancer, then dilitata would be a bin man.....IMHO it lacks any grace at all.......i think i'd have trouble giving them away.

    Here is one of the best fern sites.
    http://www.fernatix.co.uk/index.html
     
  7. growest

    growest Active Member 10 Years

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    I believe one of the best fern sources in the US would be Judith Jones place

    http://www.fancyfronds.com/

    Like others, I particularly love the wallichiana, and polystichum neolobatum is a favorite for it's shiny evergreen fronds. Actually, just having a nice variety in our north side of the house "fernery" is as much an attraction as any one species/variety.

    The selection of varieties at any nursery with an emphasis on temperate ferns is rather overwhelming, in a nice way!

    Glen
     
  8. KarinL

    KarinL Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Well if we're moving to a discussion of nice ferns in general the list is overwhelmingly long and a matter of taste; you asked about crested ferns specifically. I will just respond to the more general question to disagree that dilatatas aren't nice - Dryopteris dilatata 'Jimmy Dyce' is one of my all-time favourites, right up there with Dryopteris dilatata 'Recurvata.'

    I buy a lot of my ferns at Fraser's Thimble Farms which is Canadian but does ship internationally, though no doubt at great cost. Other than that a local nursery used to bring in ferns from Judith Jones and so I'd second her as a source (of both ferns and information!).

    I do like Mickel's book, although I have a few quibbles with it - but what book is perfect?? I have used it a lot, and learned a lot from it. He grows ferns in a colder zone so you might even find the book more useful than I do. Although there aren't photos for all the ferns listed, the photos he has are marvellous.
     
  9. oscar

    oscar Active Member

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    I didnt say all dilitatas were poor, i said the straight forward species dilitata would not be in my first choice list, it was a general observation, for the benefit of all reading this thread, i was mearly recommending garden worthy ferns.
     
  10. KarinL

    KarinL Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Ah, my apologies for misunderstanding, and indeed the subject can go wherever it wants. From my zone it is hard to make recommendations for colder climates, so I am glad others were able to do so.
     
  11. chuckrkc

    chuckrkc Active Member

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    Of crested ferns, although in this case and for this area ones for indoors rather than out, a local nursery just got in two polypodiums, which are very attractive.

    One is called 'Bear's Paw Fern,' or what I think is Polypodium aureum 'Mandianum.' Its fronds have a blue cast to them and are somewhat more leaf-shaped than what we normally think of as fernlike. The leaves have frilly edges. Lift up the foliage and the base of the plant resembles the furry feet of the rabbits foot fern, but the feet are much bigger.

    The other one is a Polypodium polycarpon 'Grandiceps.' It looks like a hart's tongue fern, with big light green paddles stretching up and ending in odd crests.

    Thanks for the suggestions on the book and the ferns.

    Chuck
     

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