The Plant Lover's Guide to Ferns by Sue OlsenThe Plant Lover's Guide to Ferns by Sue Olsen

The Plant Lover's Guide to Ferns

bySue Olsen, Richie Steffen

Paper over Board | April 8, 2015

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Ferns are easy to grow and readily available in big box stores, garden centers, and mail-order nurseries, making them a popular ornamental among new and advanced gardeners. Perfect for containers, borders, layered gardens, foliage accents, and shady areas, ferns come in a range of colors and varieties. The Plant Lover’s Guide to Ferns, by fern enthusiasts Richie Steffen and Sue Olsen, is packed with information on these reliable plants. The book includes profiles for 134 plants, with information on growth and propagation, advice on using ferns in garden design, and lists of where to buy the plants and where to view them in public gardens.
Sue Spooner Olsen developed a love of ferns in the late 1960s and has been studying, propagating, and writing about them ever since. Her fern nursery, Foliage Gardens, has introduced numerous ferns to North American horticulture and is the oldest mail-order nursery in the United States for spore-grown temperate ferns. Sue was a foundin...
Title:The Plant Lover's Guide to FernsFormat:Paper over BoardDimensions:252 pages, 9 × 8 × 0.88 inPublished:April 8, 2015Publisher:Timber PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1604694742

ISBN - 13:9781604694741


Read from the Book

Introduction: Why We Love Ferns Ferns are an intriguing oddity of the gardening world, and their delicate beauty has inspired their use in gardens for generations. Their images permeate cultures through countless books, home décor, garden furnishings, fine art, tableware and fabrics. Most amazingly, ferns surround and enchant us to such a high degree without the aid of a single bloom. When we turn to the garden, surprisingly many think of these incredible plants as a foil for others and as a secondary element in the landscape. Fortunately, some gardeners among us recognize the wealth of beauty these plants have to offer and the number of admirers grows by the day.      Why do we love these ancient leftovers from prehistoric times? Anyone who has walked through a fern-laden forest path can attest to the calming lushness ferns provide. As we observe this scenery, however, its simplicity disappears into an array of subtle details. With light passing through, fronds glow with a brilliant flash of green, new foliage unfurls to reveal more tones and colors unnoticed at first glance, and each frond is composed of a multitude of patterns. The depth of detail is complete with the revealing of dots, lines, and various patterns of sori on the underside of the leaf, whose purpose is to hold the fern’s spores. The intricacies of sori can add color, texture, and just plain weirdness to these marvelous plants.      Their fantastic foliage is a compelling reason for using ferns in the garden. These plants can be the finishing detail of the shady landscape, perfect for softening edges and creating pleasing transitions between colors and coarse textures. Brilliantly colored new fronds and dramatically proportioned leaves can create an eye-catching delight. The ability of ferns to link and join plantings together effortlessly along with the endless variation and textural interest can feed even an obsessive collector’s insatiable appetite.      Ferns have adapted to almost all climates and situations in gardens. Wild ferns can be found growing in marshes and rain forests or deserts and other drylands, from valley floors to mountaintops, but our current cache of ferns has its main roots in Victorian England. Pteridomania, or fern fever, started in Britain in the mid 1800s and lasted until World War I. During this time amateur plant collectors and professional students of ferns scoured the countryside looking for rare species and any plant that deviated even by the smallest amount from the typical form. This enthusiasm for all things fern resulted in the selection and naming of hundreds of cultivars. Most of these selections were of ferns native to the British Isles and contained the beautiful, the unusual, the bizarre, and the ugly. Many of these forms no longer exist, but a surprising number have survived the test of time and are common in our gardens today.      Pteridomania led to the creation and perfecting of many ferny styles of gardening. Among the most popular garden features of the era were ferneries, specialized gardens for displaying ferns. Some ferneries resembled conservatories, with interiors sculptured with stone and concrete and lushly planted with ferns, while other structures were built in sheltered areas where cold-tolerant plants could be showcased. Protected outdoor areas were also developed into stumperies and rooteries. Weathered logs and well-worn root wads were gathered and sculpturally composed to create habitats for ferns and woodland treasures enjoying the cool moisture of the slowly deteriorating wood. Rock gardens with shady cool nooks were designed to help grow choice alpine and dwarf species difficult to cultivate in any other condition.       Although pteridomania began to fade after World War I, it did not vanish. All of its horticultural practices survived into modern times, but the fact is that we don’t need these special garden features to grow ferns---just a patch of dirt or lacking that a container for an apartment balcony.       In recent years, the global economy has opened the horticultural doors of the world, allowing botanists and researchers access to remote countries and regions. As a result, new species are being discovered and rare species rediscovered. Today’s gardeners can enjoy a wealth of new ferns that has not been seen since the Victorian’s golden age of exploration. It is a good time to be a gardener and a good time to grow ferns.  

Editorial Reviews

“Sure to get you down on your hands and knees.” —New York Times Book Review   “Their abundant expertise is evident in the detailed descriptions…visually, the book is stunning.” —Garden Design “All the knowledge these two fern fanciers accumulated over their years of study are beautifully presented in The Plant Lover’s Guide to Ferns.” —Seattle Times  “This slim volume offers the pteridomaniac just the right amount of inspiration and information to keep them on track.” —Pacific Horticulture “If you live in Western Washington and you like plants, you need this book. . . . I am so inspired that I intend to fill a single large container with my favorite fern—as soon as I can decide which fern in this book is my favorite.” —The Daily News “Don’t dare open this book unless you are ready to fall in love…Steffen and Olsen have produced a lush, user-friendly book, replete with obvious expertise and a shared love for their subject.” —Hardy Fern Foundation Quarterly “This is a book that is not just for fern lovers, but also for those who want to use the rich tapestry of foliage, color, and texture of ferns to great effect in the garden.” —Pteridologist Review