Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Heronswood February 2023 visit, the rock garden

When we were in Seattle last year for the Northwest Flower & Garden Festival I somehow talked Andrew into a visit to Heronswood Garden. The trip began on a ferry from the Seattle waterfront.

That's Andrew paying our admission...

While I was checking out the plants in those wooden planters, like Maihuenia poeppigii.

And Stylidium graminifolium, aka grass triggerplant.

I never got around to sharing these photos last winter (our visit was on February 18th) and once spring rolled around I didn't want to revisit winter images, so I've been hanging on to them until time was right, which is now! The first area we walked through was the rock garden, which had definitely expanded and settled in since my visit in 2021.

This area is planted up with an enviable collection of xeric ferns, and I got the names of most of them. Myriopteris aurea...

Myriopteris fendleri

Astrolepis integerrima

There were cactus mixed in too, I think this might be Opuntia fragilis (on the left).

Myriopteris rufa

Myriopteris tomentosa

And my biggest fern crush of the day, Pellaea truncata, aka spiny cliffbrake.

Didn't get the name of this spiny fellow. Don't you want to hug him?

More to explore...

Dudleya lanceolata on the left.

During my first visit this little bog planting looked much more promising. Maybe it just had the winter blues?

I remember crushing on this fellow, Polystichum imbricans. 

You can definitely tell these photos are from winter, I look forward to exploring in July when The Garden Fling visits and it's all a little "lusher." Notholaena standleyi...

There were agaves too—agaves and ferns in the same planting, you know I was happy! Agave parryi ssp. neomexicana on the left.

Agave gracilipes

Astrolepis sinuata

Yucca baccata I think?

I found this on the Heronswood website: "Created during the pandemic, and now honoring its victims and its heroes, the Rock Garden incorporates five rocky islands, each studded with miniature treasures that grow at high elevation. The garden currently showcases alpine plants from North America’s western mountains and southwestern deserts but will expand to include other regions plus Mediterranean landscapes."

Agave parryi var. truncata 

Agave americana 'Grey Ghost', living up to it's name. These agaves were definitely showing how they felt about the winter storms the PNW delt with last winter.  

There is a small on-site nursery under the awning in the distance, and I think classes are held there too. 

Ferocactus hamatacanthus

Opuntia sp. PL10028951

Before I wrap it up, the plantings that surround the rock garden and parking lot deserve a closer look.

Agave salmiana var. ferox

Agave 'Baccarat' on top of the wall and Agave parryi tucked in.

A colorful patch of Sedum palmeri

Agave bracteosa, enjoying a vertical lifestyle in the wall (I didn't get the name of the agave in the back). Come back on Friday and we'll check out the rest of this fabled garden!

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All material © 2009-2024 by Loree L Bohl. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

Monday, January 29, 2024

Indoor Ferns; rambling thoughts on a book and houseferns

I purchased the book Indoor Ferns, by Boy Altman (1998) last March after it was mentioned during a Hardy Fern Foundation Webinar. I finally got around to reading it last weekend.

From the back cover: "Indoor Ferns tells you how to keep tropical and sub-tropical ferns growing in peak condition. Unlike flowering plants, ferns have to reply on their "personalities" and the beauty of their fronds to win admiration." ah yes, their personalities!

I don't know exactly what I was expecting, but I definitely wasn't expecting it to be so sassy: "Do you recognize this still life? There is a good chance that you do, since 95% of all indoor ferns look like this within a few months to a year. These three ferns come from different rooms in the house and their owners had no idea what else they could have done to please the ferns. It was simply ignorance: all the ferns shown here are epiphytes and a plastic post is the last place to put an epiphyte. Ferns are not all the same"

On epiphytes: "You really should not even try to keep an epiphytic fern in a plastic  pot with ordinary compost. In order to understand this, you need to know what an epiphyte is. Epiphytes, like some orchids, bromeliads, tilansias [sic] and a large number of ferns, are plants which get their nutrition from a host, usually a tree. In a shaded spot they easily survive on nutrients which are washed down from the tree tops by the tropical rains. On p. 21 [below] you can see a Polypodium aureum on its host, Butia comata, a Brazilian palm. Epiphyte ferns include Platyceriums, Aspleniums, most Nephrolepis varieties and Polypodiums." There have obviously been some name changes since this book was published in 1998, I chose to leave them as written.

This drilled terracotta pot was suggested as an alternative to the plastic, allowing air to reach the roots.

The book is about much more than epiphytic ferns, including an A-Z of the fern family with lots of info and thoughts on care. A couple other quotes from the book: "if the plant behaves strangely in the first few months, do not get out the rubbish bag immediately. Give it a chance to adapt to the new conditions. Sometimes it takes a year before a fern has completely adapted. Do not keep putting the fern in a different place each time. If you discover after a few weeks that it looks better on that coffee table than beside your bookshelf, it is better to move the furniture around-it is less likely to die." A year!?! Move the furniture!?!

"Ferns hate being shifted from pillar to post; make sure that they are always kept in the same, light spot. Hanging ferns in the hall or in the middle of the room, as you see in films, is madness. They are put there for a moment to make a pretty shot, but it is not a representation of reality, unless growing lamps are hung above them. This special lighting more or less replaces the sun and also looks very decorative." All righty!

There is an almost 2-page section devoted to how to sprinkle and spray your ferns. If I were the type to take everything I read to heart these directions alone would keep me from ever growing a fern indoors. 

On that note I thought I'd share photos of the ferns I am growing, indoors. These first few were featured in the mantel post I did back on Jan 8th, guess what! They're still alive. Pteris cretica in the tall planter and Pteris quadriaurita 'Tricolor' on the right.

'Tricolor' has lost it's color. The book says that's because only the new fronds are colorful and they all eventually fade. I suspect light has something to do with it as well. Once spring rolls around it will vacation outdoors and hopefully the color will return.

The crocodile fern, Microsorium musifolium 'Crocydyllus' is also still alive—many of you reported this one was short lived. 

This Microgramma vacciniifolia on a stick hangs in our shower, it's the only houseplant fern I've had for years.

I bought a second Microgramma vacciniifolia at Lotusland, it's currently hanging out in the basement. I look forward to doing something creative with it this spring.

The basement, with it's cooler temperatures, higher light levels (at least in the winter), and higher humidity, is a much easier place to keep ferns alive. Of course once the weather warms these will all transition back outdoors. Here's one of my several bean ferns, Lemmaphyllum microphyllum.  

This one is growing on a piece of bark with moss, although it's been so long since I've lifted it off the ceramic leaf it's on, I have no idea how much of the bark is still there. 

Aglaomorpha coronans, one of the basket ferns. I am thrilled to have kept this one alive for a year and a half.

Side view, of Aglaomorpha coronans.

This little button fern, Pellaea rotundifolia is a thirsty thing.

More times than I care to admit I've discovered it starting to shrivel up, thankfully it responds well to a drenching.

I shared the making of this hanging business last summer, because of the cryptanthus (only Zone 10 hardy) it had to be brought indoors for the winter.  

I've not done well with pyrrosia indoors, but so far it's doing fine (this is P. lingua). I am sure to give it a good soak once a week or so.

More ferns on sticks (from Andy's Orchids), these are Pyrrosia nummularifolia (the little leaves).

The Brazilian tree fern (Blechnum Brasiliense) I brought home from my visit to Little Prince is not loving the basement garden conditions and my occasional lack of watering.

Poor thing.

Elaphoglossum metallicum, an iridescent fern from Peru (mine came from a friend up in Seattle).

I have four common staghorn ferns (Platycerium bifurcatum) happily over-wintering in the basement.

Finally, I recently added a Platycerium grande to the mix. My previous efforts to mount one of these myself failed miserably, so I broke down and bought one already (uncreatively) mounted on a slab of wood and now hanging on the wall above our washing machine. I'm scheming on ways to disguise the wood.

As I was reading the book I kept thinking of the indoor fern craze of the 1970's, how did people keep those ferns happy indoors? Especially the ones in restaurants and fern bars? Do you successfully grow ferns indoors? What's your secret?

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All material © 2009-2024 by Loree L Bohl. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.