Hello! I am new to this forum but have been growing native (mostly) ferns in Ontario, Canada for some years now.
What I am hoping to get some expert advice on, is the following. I have been asked to create a memorial fern garden in a semi-public native plants garden. The goal for the fern garden is to include as many as possible of the ferns listed in the booklet published by the person the garden is commemorating. The spot allocated for the garden has some advantages, but of course also some serious disadvantages. Specifically, it is at the top of a small rise, has sandy soil, a number of mature Red Maple and Sugar Maples, mature Red Ash and one Oak. There are also numerous shrubs and young Maples, Ash and Oaks. It is bounded by two public footpaths and I have made a new, narrower, wood chip covered third path joining them to make a triangle.
Now the problem. The area is very suitable for the deciduous woods ferns, such as Marginal Wood, Evergreen Wood, Spinulose Wood Fern and so on. Some, like Crested Wood Fern and Clinton's, Goldie's and so on, will do there as well. Crested probably won't be thrilled, but it will survive. Hay-scented will be delighted, but I plan to set it off on the other side of my new path so it won't get too overwhelming! Maidenhair will do very well also. But how do I manage Ostrich, Cinnamon, Interrupted.... to say nothing of Marsh and New York ferns? Would it work to make, in effect, small Holman bogs in the open areas between the large trees to support these damp-feet ferns? They couldn't be too large because of the trees - but could be a connected series.
I am also planning to, in another year, build a low limestone wall, bermed with soil on the south side, to make habitat for Fragile Fern, Woodsias, Aspleniums and so on. They will also suffer from the dry conditions, but I am hoping the bermed wall will act as a moisture reservoir.
There is really no other spot in the whole garden that would be better. There is a large pond, with a damp area near the exit of the stream that feeds it, but the sides are steep, the water is deep, and there are about a million ducks. A better fern garden could be made if the damp area plus some of the adjacent slope could be used, but it would require the use of a backhoe, the additional of a fair amount of soil, a lot of new trail, and a solution to the very public trail currently going nearby. It is a high traffic area and as I said, suffers from ducks. (Ducks may not sound serious, but hundreds of them are quite a problem. They eat anything green and do what ducks do everywhere. They also tempt the many dogs that pass by, so any planting would get trashed.) Putting a fern garden there is more than I could take on! The group responsible for the main garden has limited resources, so hiring help isn't an option.
Any comments, advice or questions will be welcome!
Gardening on a rocky ridge in the woods in Eastern Ontario, Canada. Lots of native plants, lots of ferns. Zone 4A, usually. Often. Well, sometimes.