Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I Want Ferns. I Think.

It's smack dab middle of winter right now and despite the joy that the conservatory brings, there is that longing to be out in the garden, inhaling the fresh earthy smells of the soil. So we in the frozen tundra that is the north, are doing armchair gardening of all sorts, dreaming about and planning our gardens for the coming year.

I've come to the decision that perhaps my solution to keep the kitties out of a certain garden area Once. And. For. All. is to plant it so thickly that they can't possibly get in there to dig. As a result of their past behavior, the soil in this 5' by 2' area is beautifully crumbly and rich - better than any other on the property. It's also quite acidic, as you can imagine.

There are two ways I can go with this, or rather, two ways I want to go - either hostas or ferns. I adore hostas and I have many of them. Come spring, I may just have enough of them that I could divide and transplant several of them to this mostly shady area and let them fill in. Hostas would also be fairly resistant to the slight abuse whatever is planted there would have to take until they get filled in. (Kitties throw and pile soil like nobody's business in their effort to cover up their messes.)

But the location is also a good one for growing ferns, which I also love. I've got some Ostrich Ferns in another part of the garden where they're constantly crying for moisture and I have to make a real effort to keep them watered so they don't go dormant. They would definitely do better here. The hard part would be keeping the cats out until they were more established, unless I purchased more of them to begin with.

Here's the spot:

I realize it's hard to see much with it covered with snow, but I guess that doesn't really matter. You see the general area. In the left corner, there is a black fountain in summer:

What would YOU do? And if ferns are the answer, what is a good place for ordering them online, should I choose to go that route? I'll look locally first, but these can sometimes be hard to find here. Or maybe you have something totally different in mind?


Fern @ Life on the Balcony said...

Ironically, I kill ferns, but I think ferns and hostas could look great. What about tucking in some lirope, or even better, black mondo grass? Their thin strappy leaves would look awesome in contrast to the hostas and ferns.

Donna said...

beautiful ferns against that patio area...I love Big Dipper Farms for ordering ferns online...whatever you choose will be beautiful

Lisa at Greenbow said...

The cats around here hide under the hostas so they can pounce on birds. Heck, they hide under the ferns too. I like both plants equally. Hostas and ferns look good together. Maybe you should plant both.

Nutty Gnome said...

I love ferns and hostas together too. You could pop in a Pennisteum 'Setaceum Rubrum' and underplant with Ophiopogon 'Nigrescens' and Leptinella 'Platts Black' as a counterpoint to the shapes of the ferns and hostas and to blend with the black fountain. Chamomile 'Lawn Treneague' would also make good ground cover and keep the cats off - my cat certainly avoids the camomile lawn I'm attempting to grow!

Rose said...

I love the way this area looks already! But I do understand the kitty problem--my cats just love when I dig up the soil--a new litterbox!:) I've had to replant seedlings many times after they've disturbed them. My small shade garden is the first area I planted here, and now it's so dense with hostas and ferns and other plants that there's not much room for the cats to dig around. I love Japanese painted ferns, but I have other types, including some cinnamon ferns Lisa of Greenbow gave me that are the easiest to grow. I find that ferns in general are pretty tough.

Dave@TheHomeGarden said...

I think you should mix it up a bit - do both! Maybe get a couple nice pots similar to the water fountain and try the ferns in those and plant the hostas in the ground? Some neat dwarf hostas would look great surrounding tall pots of ferns.

Shady Gardener said...

I do love ferns, but I don't love a bed full of Just Ferns. I go with Dave... mix it up. :-) You are terribly creative - I'll watch to see what you do!

Kate @ Gardening and Gardens said...

I love ferns. But I agree with the other posters about mixing up the plantings with something else. I'm not a huge fan of Hosta flowers, but the foliage can be quite beautiful and a stunning contrast to the fern.

Kylee Baumle said...

First of all, THANK YOU to all that have responded so far to my design dilemma! I appreciate your opinions more than you know!

Fern ~ I like the liriope idea, Fern. I like the mondo grass idea even better, since the fountain is black, but black mondo grass isn't hardy here in zone 5.

Donna ~ I'm a fan of Big Dipper Farms, too!

Lisa ~ I've thought about both, but the area is pretty small, so I figured the ferns would overpower the hostas eventually anyway. It's a thought, though.

Nutty Gnome ~ Liz, I want to plant all perennials there, so I have to keep in mind my zone (5) when choosing things. All beautiful choices you've suggested though. Right now, I've got a mix of different sized and patterned hostas and it's just too much of a mix for that small area, which is why I want to go with just one or two things. The smaller hostas need to have space around them to be effective, so I'll move those to a different spot where the cats can't overwhelm them. But a larger hosta and some ferns would work well there together, I think.

Rose ~ Thanks, Rose, but that photo is from several years ago and I've removed those lily-of-the-valley. I maybe should have left them there, because NOTHING destroys those! LOL. Isn't it funny how the cats think the world is their litter box? It's a good thing they're so adorable.

Dave ~ I've already got some dwarf hostas there, but the kitties bury them often. But containers are an interesting idea!

Shady Gardener ~ I'm leaning towards both ferns and hostas. It's a small area, so I don't want too much variety, but I think this is doable!

Kate ~ I know what you mean about hosta flowers. Some of the larger ones are gorgeous, but I generally cut them off. I grow hostas for the foliage mainly. It's looking like the majority may rule here - hostas AND ferns!

Nellie from Beyond My Garden said...

Kylee, I love my new fern garden. It is still evolving but makes me think "cool" even on hot days. So far no animal bothers the ferns, not even the moles because I have foot-thick stones around each section. All my ferns have come out of my surrounding woods. Plenty to choose from. I'm anxious to see the results of what you decide.

Anonymous said...

You have a lovely place as is but the hostas and ferns together will be great, we call our the Fairy Garden. The kitty problem: We had the same problem under our camillias and I put down chicken wire and covered it with bark (any mulch would do). Kitties do not like to get their claws into wire. Soon there were no visitors and after a while I was able to do away with the chicken wire and still no visitors.

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