Welcome to my zone 9 garden. My roots are deeply planted in the sandy soil of sub-tropical central Florida, where the summers are long and hot, but the rest of the year is paradise!

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Ferns & Mosses

Ferns are just one of those elegant types of plants - simple yet very artistic, especially when a new frond unfurls. This particular fern is from the Black Hammock in Oviedo, supposedly one of the few places that it grows in the world.

Here's a close up shot at the frond. We've had it in a pot for 19 years and it has only produced one other plant which is unusual for ferns.

It doesn't usually take ferns very long to fill in a bare spot in a shady garden. I purchased this silvery fern at Bok Tower Gardens in Winter Haven. I love the color of it and the long slender leaves, as well.

One of my favorite ferns is the Holly fern. It has beautiful glossy leaves and a nice round growth habit. And best of all it doesn't intrude on its neighbors by spreading uncontrollably.

This fishtail fern was a gift and we keep it potted because it does spread uncontrollably! But it is a lovely large fern.

Most ferns in my garden have just suddenly appeared on their own volition, like this unknown one that popped up among the bromeliads. I suppose having blown in on the wind from a neighboring yard. I have a hard time keeping "unknown" ferns out of my potted plants, in fact it's almost downright impossible.
The Resurrection Fern blankets the arm of a large Live oak in our backyard. This fern appears on its own and can be found in most oaks in Florida. It is truly a "magical" plant. When the weather is dry this fern is completely brown and all dried up, but following a rainshower it "magically" springs back to life, looking lush and green once again. I never cease to be amazed by the resiliency of this fern.

Ferns have a habit of showing up in very unusual places like between the pool tile, and

the outside stucco wall of our pool area. They are so pretty that I have a hard time plucking them out. I remember when we toured Volcano National Park in Hawaii sometime back, they told us the first plant to return to an area after an eruption is ferns.

They are so delicate and lacy, but they can also be bold and large here in Florida. This staghorn fern dangling from an elm tree is quite old and has survived many mornings as the temperatures hovered around the 32 degree mark. To protect our staghorn ferns from freezing, we wrap old sheets and blankets around them. In the dark they look like large ghosts swinging from the trees.


This particular one has very long slender leaves,
while its neighbor, a shorter but more stalky variety

has thick, bulky leaves. Keeping Spanish moss and live oak seedlings out of them can become a challenge, and it's hard to water them without the wind blowing a spray of water back into your face. But they do look beautiful swinging 'neath the large oaks and elm tree.


And, speaking of Spanish Moss, it is one of my favorite plants. You can't have a Live oak without Spanish moss draped across its branches. It's what creates that timeless, romantic and quiet dusty backroads feeling of the "Old South."

I know of lot of people have it removed or sprayed which I think is dreadful. It's so otherworldly looking and unique to the South. And, yes we do have to pick it up off the ground frequently as it is blown down by thunderstorms and wind. And, no I've never gotten "red bug" a/k/a chiggers or no-see-ums bites from picking it up. It does, however, make a great mulch that keeps weeds from penetrating its dense surface when wet and packed down on the ground.

With our frequent showers and high humidity, green moss grows with ease on outdoor pots, patios, bricks - you name it, it grows there. And, it is most welcome in my yard. This little bit of moss is finding a home on a brick walkway. My mother has a small patio tucked into a shady corner of her garden and it is completely covered by the mossy green growth. It is absolutely beautiful and looks right out of a fairy tale.

I placed this piece of moss (actually glued it) on this chair in the hopes that it would begin to cover it. I found it growing on the surface of some potted purslane. Ferns and mosses are two carefree plants that add a lot of interest and texture to a shady garden.

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