If you want suggestions of ferns to use as ground cover in shady spots, where you are probably already growing some, Mobee Weinstein has a list for you. But many of her ideas about making room for ferns in your life are less expected — and even the ground-covering types she recommends may be unfamiliar.
How about an eight-inch-tall carpet of native oak fern (Gymnocarpium dryopteris), through which precious spring woodland wildflowers like trillium, Jack-in-the-pulpit or violets would be happy to pop?
Or you could try combining a trio of un-fernlike ferns in an impromptu seasonal water garden, assembled in a trough. Or call another assortment of distinctive varieties into duty, as an indoor-outdoor centerpiece to grace the terrace dining table (before coming indoors to overwinter among the houseplants)?
That’s just the start of a list of fern-based inspirations from Ms. Weinstein, the author of “The Complete Book of Ferns” and a longtime foreman of outdoor gardeners at New York Botanical Garden.
If it were up to her, we’d have a full-on reprise of Pteridomania, the fern craze of the Victorian era.
Ms. Weinstein is a self-described foliage lover, owing at least in part to assignments early in her botanical career tending the fern-rich native plant garden, and then the fern house, part of the botanical garden’s historic greenhouse complex. Mentoring from staff scientists and curators who specialized in ferns deepened the connection.
She is ready to entice us with fern trivia: These are ancient plants, with the earliest fossil records indicating that they may have inhabited the earth 400 million years ago. Many of the oldest species are extinct, but others,
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