Autumn ferns bring welcome green to gray winter days

Published on Wednesday, 15 January 2014 23:55 - Written by By Dee Bishop In Out Garden

Green in winter is always welcome. These ferns are gloriously green even after all the cold weather we have had this winter. Autumn ferns (Dryopteris erythrosora) are perfect for evergreen foliage. These lovely ferns stand up to wind, hale and cold, and come out none the worse. Called autumn fern because of the lovely orangey-red new leaves, this fern will add interest and color all year. Autumn ferns are a little more drought tolerant than most others, thus are suited for dry shady areas.

With a maximum growth of 24 inches, they provide a lovely, but not overpowering, background for color such as impatiens, begonias or caladiums in summer. Autumn ferns are very easy and undemanding to grow. Just provide some good compost soil and give them water in dry spells. They can take a good bit of sun. Too much late afternoon sun in summer will toast leaf edges, so the more sun you give them, the more you must water them.

We have these ferns planted in the back of the garden on the south side of the patio. You can sit on the bench there and admire our lovely shade garden and see our very own autumn ferns. We also have some planted in the green section of the Rainbow Border out in front of the garden.

While you are enjoying our gardens, notice our new signs. We are trying harder all the time to get more information to you about our gardens. We get scolded all the time for not labeling everything, but since we change things up every season, labeling is a near impossibility. We are seriously working on some way of letting you know what we have planted there and this column is one way. I try to point out what is screaming, “Look at me,” every week.

Now, finding lots of bright color for a pretty picture is not always possible in winter, but we do have some.

Dee Bishop is a Smith County Master Gardener. She writes about plants growing within the Tyler Rose Garden.