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- May 14, 2008 at 1:23 pm #27820
Welcome, Millie. Ferns are a great possibility, and you can vary your choices for more or less sun, and also for scale–some tall at the back and some shorter farther forward, if you like, or a few tall specimens jutting up out of a groundcover of low-growers like Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides).
If you have woods on your property in the Berkshire area, you probably have Christmas ferns, low and evergreen. As to whether you can move them, legally it must be from your own land; otherwise they are easy to transplant.
As a vertical accent, one of my favorite tall ferns is Dryopteris erytrhrosora, which has orangey new growth in spring and is just extremely handsome. If you had enough of the lower-growing fernds from your woods, you could just invest in a few key clumps of the Dryopteris.
Ostrich fern, Matteuccia struthiopteris, is very architectural, too, but also very aggressive…so best planted on its own in an area where it can run. Some people do not like this fern for its spreading nature, but I do. You can harvest the first crop or two of fiddleheads from ostrich fern to eat every spring, a delicacy. It is impressive-looking enough to be a whole border as you seem to want.
When I wanted to do a large mass of ferns years ago but didn’t want to spend the money for so many big plants, I asked the local garden center I shop at if they would sell me flats of "plugs" or just bare-root ferns, that is, young plants without the soil and pots. Usually they order them in late winter to pot up and sell as quarts or gallons later; I suggested that they not pot them up, but just mark up the wholesale price and sell them to me to take home to plant myself.
If you inquire about this, don’t do it when the weather is hot of course–early spring would be most suitable, or again in fall.
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