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Orrington, MAINE USA

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Murrieta, CALIFORNIA USA

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Princeton, MAINE USA

Monday, July 04, 2011

Fern Fetish


Plant experts from the U.S. and the U.K. unite to tour “the crossroads of sporangia,” otherwise known as Kentucky. Thank you, Allen!


imageRalph Archer leads a bi-national tour of Whitehall’s woodland garden, named for him, Louisville, KY

Photo: Allen Bush

By Allen Bush

Sarah Palin, the revisionist expert on Paul Revere’s warning, never saw the British coming, yet the occasional elected official and non-stop self-promoter needn’t worry about foreign invaders, at least not these: Royal subjects with a fetish for ferns, members of the British Pteridological Society, came to Louisville, Kentucky, near the summer solstice, heeding a call to join their counterparts from the American Fern Foundation for a two-week tour of southeastern natural woodlands and shade gardens. You’ve never seen a busload so excited about sporangia.

According to Ralph Archer, the Louisville tour guide,  Kentucky is a happy hunting ground for hardy ferns. He was responsible for planting host Whitehall’s fern collection – now called the Ralph Archer Woodland Garden at Whitehall. (Mike Hayman, Leslie Pancratz and a devoted group of nine Master Gardeners keep the garden in fine shape now.)

Kentucky is at fern crossroads of the United States – the nexus between the flora of the east and west and north and south.

The garden visitors, slowed by the weight of a humid morning, didn’t need to be told that it was hot at these crossroads. But they did miss the boat on some beautiful blooming plants.

Did they see the hedging Hydrangeas in various shades of white, pink and blue?  Hydrangea paniculata ‘Tokyo Delight,’ a lacecap form with blue and white blooms was exceptional. (I suspect someone at Whitehall has dosed the soil to lower the pH to a more acidic range to get the blue coloring. I sit on a limestone outcrop, not far away, and the pH is a sweet 7.2.  This would turn the blooms a pinker shade.) It’s a shame the visitors missed the bright red Crocosmia ‘Lucifer,’ and the gold shades of Alstroemeria ‘Sweet Laura’ and Coreopsis ‘Zagreb’ in the sunny long border.


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Posted by Julie on 07/04 at 12:27 PM
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