Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Denizens of the Shade

The Bladder nut, Staphylea trifolia
Golden bleeding heart
Thomas Hart Benton's hardy Ginger

Ursula's Red Japanese Painted fern
Eastern Maidenhair Fern
I am always amazed at the atmosphere that ferns create in a garden. The shady areas of the garden are full of early Spring ephemerals, then the prehistoric ferns make their appearance. I have three or four native ferns at Hiddenfield,luckily for me, the stunning Maidenhair is one of them! I've added many types of fern over the years, the Japanese Painted fern is one of the standbys, Ursula's Red, a lovely cultivar, doesn't seem very red to me!! I always add a lot of compost to the planting area,then a nice mulch of shredded leaves and a drink of water to get them settled in.

The structure that ferns give a shady area is immeasurable, I also cut fronds for simple displays in the house,clear glass vases suit them best. I don't like using fern as a "filler", to me they work on their own as elegant accents for the table. If I hadn't planted so many ferns and Hosta in the shade garden, I'd have a very sparse garden for the majority of the year! The nice thing about the Hostas is the added bonus of blooms later in the season,that the Hummingbirds seem to love!

I try to use a lot of native plants when they make an impact. The native hardy Ginger that I have originally came from artist Thomas Hart Benton's garden in Kansas City's Roanoke neighborhood.My father was good friends with Tom, and as all gardener's know...sharing is the thing to do, tomato starts,Iris and occasionally, hardy Ginger. It's fun to have some K.C. history in the garden!

When taking a walk a few Springs ago, I found a colony of bladder Nuts in the deep woods at the farm. I waited until the trees were dormant, them moved several to the shade garden by the house. Now, they bloom luxuriantly in the Springtime, tempting butterflies and bees with their nectar.

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