My Best Fronds – Ferns as Friends and Friends as Ferns

 Well, hello there. That’s what I feel like saying every time I see one of my ferns pop its unfurled self up from the ground. 

I am the happy (not hapless) companion to about four or five different kinds of ferns in my gardens. They live mostly in the backyard, as the front yard tends to be a bit dry and sunny during the growing phase.

My most populous ferns are rampant. They may be a type of Athyrium. I was warned. They are a digging from a couple I knew way back, now passed on. Their legacy lives in these and also in the unfortunate addition of Chinese lanterns in my back gardens. But I was warned.

Just like true friends, these coarse, undestroyable ferns are steadfast in their determination to hold on, and to come back no matter what the situation. So I’ve adjusted and accepted them, simply moving the ones that are in the wrong places when necessary. They continue to thrive, and I think of my missing friends when I see them (in a good way!).
Cinnamon fern (Osmundastrum cinnamomeumwas discovered growing on a bank at another friend’s home. They were unaware of the treasure they owned, and I was quick to ask for a piece of its root. Over the years, Cinnamon fern hasn’t grown very rampantly. It is a well-behaved, slow charmer. It takes its time growing its plumes, and when it does, it is quite a sight. I try to remember when I see this plant, that some friends are not aware of what precious qualities they have. Many people are quick to put themselves down, and slow to realize their beauty, both inside and out.

 Little ferns just popping up, called fiddleheads, are among the most welcome sights of the spring. These are Christmas ferns (Polystichum acrostichoides), and grow in a few places here and there. They are extremely easy to manage and keep their fronds all winter. They are quite large, but complete some plantings by offering a steady background. Many people also are background people. The people who hold things together and never give up. Who are there in all seasons and all kinds of weather, ready to pop up and do it all over again. Christmas fern doesn’t ask; it just does.

But things would not be complete without the ability of ferns in general to blend in and enhance a scene. Greens of every hue lend to ferns. Shady nooks are brightened by ferns. They get along with everyone. Like those friends who only look to please. Who only want to make sure you and everyone else has everything they need. 

These are my ferns. I think they earned the title of “best fronds.”

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