Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Fern frame

Yep, when I typed the title of this post I did hear the J Geils Band singing Freeze Frame. I never did like that song, and now (if you're of a certain age) it's probably in your head too. Sorry.

So, my fern frame. I scored this metal piece at a plant swap last fall. The person who brought it thought it was for a vertical gardening system but the frame is all there was, no inserts and it was open on the back, the blue plastic was my addition.

I don't have a photo of it before I added the plastic, but here you can see it, with it's open back, hanging on the fence in a photo from April.

I cut up a thin plastic cutting board and folded pieces for the back, bottom, and sides.

I then worked the excess soil off a couple of ferns I'd been saving for this project, leaving just the root ball.

This phlebodium came from a visit to Raintree Tropical last winter. It had a lot of healthy leaves on it then, but unfortunately when I was away for Mother's Day weekend they were severely sunburnt. I suppose it was easier to work with sans the leaves.

This Microgramma vacciniifolia came back with me from my visit to Lotusland last November. It was planted in a 4" pot with a light fluffy soil mix, but I've had another of the same species happily growing mounted on a stick (from Andy's Orchids) with just sphagnum moss around it's roots—so I knew it would be fine with this treatment.

The next step was to shove them in between the metal supports, up against the plastic back, and wire them in place.

That's when it became obvious I hadn't reinforced the back panel like I should have, so I added a few wires. This would have been much easier to do before the ferns were wired in, but hey, this is another of those projects where I'm just making it up as I go...

Fast forward and I'm done, the finished fern frame is hanging on the fence. You can see the gap between the plastic and metal, handy for pouring water in, although I usually just water it from the front.

Pulled back view...

There are so many round shapes on the fence and around the garden, it was fun to add a a square, it works nicely with the Platycerium grande mount to the left.

After the ferns were wired in place (and the back reinforced) I added a little more soil, some sphagnum moss, and then lots of local "Oregon moss". I even managed to wedge in a mossy piece of bark along the far left side, and a piece of Scaphyglottis-amethystinum (an orchid) I broke off an Andy's Orchids "on a stick" plant I had—that's the long thin leaves.

Here you can see the bark piece, a bit better.

I built this piece and took the above photos mid-June. Here's an updated look at the frame, photos taken last week, early July. You can see the phlebodium has a lot of new foliage.

The Microgramma vacciniifolia is also putting out new growth along it's fuzzy brown rhizomes, green arrows point to the new growth. I think they'll be leaves/fronds?

This was a fun project. I love taking something someone else is getting rid of, then using my problem solving skills and plant knowledge to turn that thing into a plant feature in my garden. This one will have to be overwintered indoors (in the basement garden, ha!), since the Microgramma vacciniifolia won't tolerate cold temps.

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


  1. I love this, you are so good at repurposing/improving found items.

  2. I'm assuming it's indoor heating in winter that prevents this from hanging upstairs instead of the basement. I've been preserving as much "Oregon moss" myself, using it mostly to carpet shady plantings, great stuff!

    1. While the heat is a concern, the bigger issue is water. It's not water tight and it will need to misted a lot. The basement is set up for that kind of thing (cement walls and floors), upstairs, not so much.

  3. Another one of your very clever ideas. It looks great!

  4. Beautifully done, Loree! I'll be interested to see how it fares over the coming year - and whether the orchid blooms.

    1. Oh gosh... I'm not expecting an orchid bloom, I just like the foliage.

  5. Very nice! And another way to expand the fern collection when space in the ground runs out. Still plenty of fence left.

    When I try to do stuff like this, it looks stupid.


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