5 of the Best Small Hardy Garden ferns

Ferns can be an important component of the garden, providing unique texture, detail and botanical variety. An ancient group of non-flowering plants, ferns are found on every continent except Antarctica and have adapted to almost every imaginable habitat.

Choosing ferns for your garden can be a hit and miss affair, as they vary considerably in size and cultural requirements. Get it right, and they can be long-lived perennials that add drama, finesse or effortless naturalness.

In this article I’m sharing my experience of growing 5 of the smaller ferns which are beautiful, delicate and intriguing, yet surprisingly tough and easy to grow given the right conditions. Four of them have received the RHS Award of Garden Merit.

They range in size from the dinkiest miniatures (4in / 10cm) to the merely small (12in / 30cm), with something for every situation: damp or dry, shade or sun. Suitable for the front of border, in troughs or containers, rockeries, gravel gardens or between paving stones.

As always, I have grown all of these ferns myself, so speak from experience which is sometimes at odds with the parroted information on nursery websites and plant labels. All the photographs are taken in my garden.

Contents

(1)

Himalayan
maidenhair

20cm

(2)

Maidenhair
spleenwort

10cm

(3)

Korean
rock fern

30cm+

(4)

Congested
soft shield fern

30cm

(5)

Common
polypody

30cm


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