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Ferns for Portland Landscape Designers

NW Portland Hillside Garden design by Landscape Design in a Day

Himalayan Maidenhair Fern – Adiantum venustum creeps through rockery. Photo is from one of my Willamette Heights Landscape Designs in Portland, Oregon.

Ferns for Portland Landscape Designers

I’ve been following Judith Jones and her career as a fern expert extraordinary before social media existed.  She’s been my fern guru for 20 years and I’ve tried to catch her lectures when she comes to Portland at Joy Creek Nursery, HPSO plant sales and garden shows.  My favorite Judith sighting was at the Seattle Flower and Garden Show when her show garden as the set for the Flintstones.  She was dressed as Wilma complete with a bone in her hair.  There was a dozen or more 8’ tall tree ferns and a 20’ tall volcano.  It looked like a real tropical fern forest.  It’s still my favorite show garden of all times.  She and her nursery Fancy Fronds have been my source for ferns in my designs.

She gave a special program for ANLD Portland Landscape Designers the other evening. She has continued to evolve and had new plants for me to consider as well as highlighting my old favorites.   It was such a pleasure to see her and learn more about ferns for landscape designers.

Client Charmer – Tracys Hybrid Maidenhair – Adiantum x tracyi

photo by Fancy Fronds

Tracys Hybrid Maidenhair – Adiantum x Tracyi

Is it possible to have a new fern?  This maidenhair was discovered in the 1900’s instead of 2000 bc which makes it new in my book.  Tracyi is a natural cross between two California native deciduous Maidenhair ferns and oddly enough it is evergreen.  Clients like a plant with long seasonal interest. The leaf or pinnae is cute, it has little dimples in the edge of each leaf.  The plant is a foot tall and like many Maidenhair ferns, the texture of the plant is what people notice most.  The best place to buy it is Judith herself at www.fancyfrondsnursery.com   I will list it in the shade category but many maidenhair fern can take some sun and become low water plants over time.  Typically, they are listed for moist shade.

Peacock Moss Modern Landscape Style

Kraus’ Spikemoss – Selaginella Kraussiana is a low ground cover fern that is underused. Some think it isn’t cold hardy for Portland, Oregon. Not true! I have it growing outdoors in a container where it’s handled many winters. It’s thriving in boulder crevices up in Willamette Heights. Plant it where it will have good drainage and light shade.

Kraus’ Spikemoss – Selaginella kraussiana ‘Gold Tips’ 

My descriptive words for Spikemoss are baby chick fluffy, with evergreen piles of adorable pettable  texture.  Judith feels it is underused and recommends it for Portland designers.  Don’t get confused and purchase Peacock moss, Selaginella uncinata because they are devoured by slugs.  I’ve been using Spikemoss for years at garden shows to dress up my pottery which is how I know that the millennial generation loves it.  They come running into my booth to pet the moss and ask if it is real. Spikemosses are not true mosses and are classed with ferns because they have a vascular system and moss doesn’t.   I’ve used Spikemoss in between boulders and I love the effect. My advice for boulder plantings is plant twice as much as you need, use a mix of compost, clay and sphagnum moss in the crevices. Don’t plant them at the base of boulders; they won’t get enough light.  Where it succeeds, it is eye catching with chartreuse fluffy fans against gray boulders. It has succeeded planted under my  (containerized) Dwarf  Vine Maple for 6 years so cold isn’t an issue.

Narrow Planting Beds

Photo credit Fancy Fronds, Judith Jones Narrow fern fits urban gardens (Scaled Male Fern Dryopteris 'Stableri Crisped')

Scaled Male Fern – Dryopteris ‘Stableri Crisped’ – Grow this fern in front of a long fence to make the fence subordinate to the landscape instead of the most prominent feature.

Ferns for Narrow Planting Beds – Narrow Golden Scaled Male Fern-Dryopteris affinis ‘Stableri’ which has no crests and ‘Stableri Crisped’ which has curled and crimped pinnule margins.  Think amazing texture!   Judith suggests these for narrow planting strips in general and in front of tall fences in particular.  My experience is that builders and concrete contractors often create front walks that only leave a skinny strip for plants.

Imagine a  6′ tall fence with, you guessed it,  about 15” to plant in.   It’s a problem for homeowners and even designers struggle finding plants that fit this situation.  Jack hammering out the front walk and starting over with a new one is the best thing if there is space for other options and budget.  The rest of the time we find the right plant that will fit that location for years without our clients needing to do much.  Can you imagine a fern trimmed into a lollypop?  We are trying to avoid that sort of business!!  Sigh…….. These handsome ferns could live for decades in that narrow area as long as the soil drains reasonably well.  These ferns are also my favorite for visually making the fence subordinate instead of prominent. The narrow vase shape also makes them perfect contrast partners to plants with large leaves like Hosta or Fatsia in larger planting beds.

Foundation Plants

Sword Leaf Holly Fern – Polystichum xiphophylum  and Makinoi’s Holly Fern – Polystichum ‘Makinoi’  

These two ferns could become your new regular use plants in designs.  They are evergreen, not as tall as many ferns and look good in foundation plantings.  Place them in partly shaded and shady areas.

Olive colored foliage makes this fern unique for Portland Landscapes

Makinoi’s Holly Fern – Polystichum ‘Makinoi’

Sword Leafed Holly Fern – Polystichum xiphophylum is neat and small at 15″ tall.

Makinoi’s Holly Fern – Polystichum  ‘Makinoi’ –  Olive, straw gold and russet fern with lustrous fronds is beautifully different than other ferns. Judith says it like this: “There is a reptilian sheen to the olive-green linear-lanceolate fronds which blends subtly into the varied straw to chestnut colored scales cloaking the supporting framework.”   It’s typically a 2-footer and evergreen or ever olive.  Some filtered morning light is okay but this fern is not for sunny areas.

Shade Garden Combination of fern and hosta

ANLD Member Rick Hansen design Arachniodes Standishii – Upside Down Fern in 2015 Designers Garden Tour. Note the color echo achieved by matching the mid green of the fern with the mid green leaf edge of the hosta.  See the contrast from the ruffled texture of the fern with the smooth hosta leaf.

 

 

Big Drama Fern

Upside Down Fern – Arachniodes Standishii  –  It’s not an upside down plant but the way the little pinnae are organized is opposite of all the other Arachniodes ferns in the world.  What I  care about is that it is cold hardy here (native to Korea and Japan), has an over the top lacy pattern and is easy to grow.  It’s semi evergreen.  It can take a little direct morning sun, typically place it in filtered shade with some deeper afternoon shade.  Plant it in front of other plants for a peek through the lace curtain effect.  It can eventually get large (4′ tall and wide) and I am trying mine on the north side where it will get sun until noon in mid June.  I’m pushing my luck a bit so we will see if it scorches and if so how long it takes to recover.

After the lecture, I bought plants. Even in my near senior status I felt that good old plant lust rise to the surface.  I usually don’t indulge in buying plants at lectures.  Managing all aspects of my landscape design business doesn’t leave me a lot of time for my former hobby of gardener and plant enthusiast.  I must be careful that I don’t kill plant material purchased in a state of amnesia about the reality of my life.  I bought these 5 ferns:  Tracys Hybrid Maidenhair – Adiantum x traceyi, Narrow Golden Scaled Male Fern  Dryopteris x complexa ‘Stableri Crisped’, Arachniodes Standishii, Upside Down Fern, Makinoi’s Holly Fern – Polystichum  ‘Makinoi’, and have lost the tag on the last one.  It’s clearly a Holly fern of some kind.

Buy ferns from Judith

My clients and I buy ferns directly from Judith off her web site or via an email. I like buying from her and get loads of advice and information when I need it. They arrive in great shape and are mostly sized between a 4” plant and a quart.  If you want bigger sizes, contact her before the spring or fall HPSO plant sale and she can bring them down for you.  Your clients can buy directly from her too.

Inspiring landscape shows for 2015

It’s easy to organize getting inspired and waking up your inner greenie by going to the spring home and garden shows. There are many summer garden tours but only one where every garden is professionally designed.

The biggest show in Seattle is the Northwest Flower and Garden Show.NWFGS_2012_horizontal_r  Some of my clients and my garden obsessed  sister will be getting hotel rooms and making a weekend out of it as they do every year.  It’s hard to say what is the best feature of this show but for me it is the highly entertaining and informative seminars and hands on demonstrations.  Our green world has its share of rock stars and some of them are hilarious and in their best form.  It’s basically stand up comedy with a screen backdrop of fabulous “over the top” gardens and lush plants.  And yes you can learn a lot as well if you are interested in gardening no matter your level of experience.

Portland Home and Garden Show

Show Garden uses recycled wood as part of the hardscape brilliantly.

Back home in Portland, I won’t be setting up my own booth this year.  Come and see me at the Portland Home and Garden Show, February 19th through the 22nd. I will be in The Showcase Gardens in the ANLD display garden.  Last year out moonlight garden won first prize.  In addition to the usual dizzying array of trades folk, artists, and plant vendors, this show has the display garden competition which is my favorite.

Yard Garden and Patio Show 2015

 

I will be at the Yard, Garden and Patio show representing the Association of NW Landscape Designers.   I’d be delighted to meet you.   Portland Yard Garden and Patio Show- February 27th through March 1st.

ANLD Garden Designers Tour

This year the Association of NW Landscape Designers will  have their famous Designers Garden Tour tickets at the YGP show available for discounted early purchase.  If you (like many of my clients) tend to go to this garden tour every year anyway, come on down to the show and get your garden tour tickets at the early bird price. The tour is June 20, 2015.  It has become one of the hot west coast garden tours and typically sells out, so taking advantage of early bird discounts saves you money and ensures you will have a ticket.  Here is a link to photos of the 2014 ANLD Designers Garden tour which was our Silver Jubilee year.

It’s never to early to start planning and it’s always disappointing when time gets away with me and I miss attending at least one of the shows.

Giving Thanks

I’ve been writing this blog for about 2 years now and I’ve stuck to topics that are in some way about landscape,  but today I am going to pause and thank some people that help me create landscape designs that help me fulfill my clients’ dreams.

Bob and Daizzie summer copy  2014

Bob and Daizzie enjoying a boat ride

My husband Bob Lindsay, Urban Renaissance,  is a designer builder who has designed and built 20 plus homes on difficult hillsides in NW Portland.  He has the best editor eye even when the work is not in his field.  I even ask him to critique my landscape paintings (my hobby), when I get stuck and he points out the very thing that isn’t working.  He makes a suggestion that usually works perfectly.  Sometimes I need advice from a builder when a decision for the landscape, such as adding new french doors, is out of my scope.  We have also worked together when I’ve designed a new driveway or a garden studio, projects where his expertise is invaluable.  He’s a great resource and of course he’s also my guy.

peggy out of the office

Peggy on site during landscape installation

My assistant Peggy Kreman is like me, not overly fond of computers but together we go into those scary computer software places, such as producing this blog. She has made working with computers bearable and workable.  She has also set up systems that don’t rely on the computer where it makes sense and this has been such a relief.  Sometimes a notebook of information properly organized makes life easier than hunting for it behind 8 drop down menus!  She has a keen eye for detail that is completely different than mine so she sees things in landscapes and in my drawings that I don’t see.  We make a great team and I’m quite grateful we met.

I have been a member of The Association of Northwest Landscape Designers for over 20 years.  ANLD keeps me up to date with educational programs and has challenged me to take on leadership roles such as producing our now famous Designers Garden Tour.  I am grateful for the amazing people who have supported my design career… basically we’ve grown up together.  I can’t imagine that other professional organizations contain such a huge number of the nicest people on the planet.  Also you haven’t been to a potluck until you’ve been to one of ours, the food is incredible!  ANLD has also provided me with a pool of wonderful professional collaborators.

autumn leaf paintings

One of my paintings inspired by Marla Baggetta

I have a chiropractor and naturopathic team that keep me ticking and also help me take care of myself so that as I age I’m still on target.   So far, years of experience seems to outweigh having to wear readers and not leaping over a 36” wall just to show the guys I can.  Thanks to Dr. Valerie Vogel, DC  at GroundSpring Healing Center and Dr. Arlette Sieckman, ND.

Happy Thanksgiving   Carol