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Dryopteris cycadina (atrata) AGM


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Dryopteris cycadina (atrata) AGM

General

Hardy garden ferns are some of the hardiest, easiest and long lived plants that can be cultivated in gardens. They have modest requirements, shade being the main one, for though ferns will survive in the sun, they will never look their best. For some, soil moisture is imperative, whilst others are happier on dryer soils.

It is true of course that ferns have no beauty of flower, but they more than make up for all that with the rich diversity of their foliage, in many shades of green. They can grow in areas which would challenge just about any flowering plant and they add texture and structure to planting schemes.

Dryopteris cycadina (atrata), a tall fern with elegant foliage and the stems covered in dark hairs giving it its distinctive appearance. The ‘Shaggy Shield Fern’ or ‘Black Wood Fern’ is so-called because of the dark, almost black scales covering the black leaf bases and crown. This, when contrasted with the bright green fronds, makes the plants extremely appealing. It has a strong habit of growth and robust leathery leaves the leaflets of which bear serrated margins. Dryopteris atrata is a synonym and exotic gardeners will notice the specific name, which acknowledges the plant's passing resemblance to a cycad.

 

Cultivation

Ferns are very easy to grow given a shady spot and the some soil moisture. These varieties are happy on most soil types. Whilst Ferns can grow in some sun, the best position is where they only get the morning sun. No real maintenance is required, but the deciduous ferns can have the faded fronds cleared in February to make way for the new growth, and even the evergreen ferns lay down the previous year’s fronds which can be cut back again to allow the new growth to shine through.

Uses

Aside from being incredibly useful for shade areas in the garden, ferns add class to many planting schemes in part shade. Some such as the Polystichums do make very good container specimens on a shady patio.