fern with very decorative and showy fronds is Japanese
painted fern (Athyrium nipponicum 'Pictum'). Unlike most
ferns that have green fronds, this fern's fronds are silver tinged
with red and maroon. The color combination is striking. The colors do
not fade as the fronds age. New fronds emerge green then develop
their coloration as they grow. The combination of new and old fronds
on each plant is interesting. When the fronds are just emerging in
spring, they are dark purple to nearly black. Japanese
painted fern is a smaller fern, ideal for small, shady
gardens. It only grows a foot to two feet tall and makes a tidy clump.
fern (Athyrium felix-femina) is related to Japanese
painted fern, but it does not have the colorations on its
fronds. Instead, its fronds are medium green and have a lacy
appearance. Lady fern is a larger fern. Its fronds are up to three
feet long and nearly a foot wide. They stand upright. Its new spring
growth is bright green and very attractive. It thrives in shady
locations and prefers moist soil.
Male fern (Dryopteris felix-mas) has leathery
fronds that are up to three feet long and under a foot wide. The
fronds are deep green. In spring, its emerging fronds are covered
with light brown hairs that give them a furry appearance. The variety
'Barnesii' has three-foot-wide fronds that are only four inches wide.
The fronds stand stiffly upright. Male fern is tolerant of dry soil
and is a good choice for planting beneath trees.
A large fern that stands tall among other plants
is Goldie's fern (Dryopteris goldiana). It bears four-foot-tall
fronds that are a foot wide or more. The fronds are widest in the
middle and taper to a pointed tip. The fronds are bright, golden
green. The color is most intense in spring while the fronds are still
young. The leaflets on the fronds are deeply cut, almost to the
center of the frond. The fronds tend to lean backward rather than
fern (Polystichum acrostichoides) grows only about two feet
tall. Its evergreen fronds are medium green with a classic fern
shape. They are widest in the middle and taper to the tip. The
leaflets have smooth edges and point downward on the bottom portion
of each frond. Christmas fern
combines nicely with other ferns in a shady garden and will tolerate
some sun if the soil is kept moist.