Tag Archives: Autumn Fern

Garden Designer’s TOP SECRET Plant Picks!

Garden designers REALLY don’t want just anybody to be able to do what we do. We want there to be some mystique, some fascination, some magic to what we create for our clients. But we DO have secret weapons in our design arsenal that ANYONE can try out affordably and dramatically. Ready? FERNS! Yes, you heard us FERNS!

Garden Designers TOP SECRET Plant PicksFerns are often low on the shopping order of excitement for nursery customers and often overlooked because they need to utilized WELL in order for them to shine. And if they aren’t sited or paired up with the right companions, they can be down right boring. However, designers know that ferns can be THE MOST dramatic and showy plants in the entire landscape if you allow them to be the super-stars that they can be.

Garden Designers TOP SECRET Plant PicksWhether you are wanting evergreen or perennial ferns, the design options are incredible and this little secret is one of many in a GOOD garden designers vast arsenal of tricks. Ferns are available for every type of location from full shade to sun, dry shade to moist, from tall to ground cover, from evergreen to perennial and everything in between. And this makes them a valuable plant option for many types of locations.

Garden Designers TOP SECRET Plant Picks

For THE absolute experts in the world of ferns, my go-to professionals are at Fancy Fronds Nursery here in the NW. The amazing ladies who own this nursery know their ferns and can provide you with everything from collectors ferns to the more common.

Garden Designers TOP SECRET Plant Picks

Designers know that a fern can often do what other plants can’t, and that is being able to play a supporting OR a string role in the display at any given time during the season. This spectacular display by designer Riz Reyes  (above) shows the important supporting actor role that ferns are playing when other plants NEED to have a starring role.

Garden Designers TOP SECRET Plant PicksDesigners also know that ferns are not simply one shot wonders in the fluffy summer landscape, they are critical players in the year round landscape. In the shot above, the ‘Autumn Fern’ shows off-color in early fall with a ‘Cappuccino’ Sedge.

Garden Designers TOP SECRET Plant Picks

Another way to think of using ferns to their highest and best purpose is to know that they can be both bold AND delicate depending on how you pair them. In this shot above, the trio of the ‘Maidenhair’ fern with Daphne ‘Summer Ice’ and ‘Mugho’ pine are a texture lovers dream! But, it is in quite a powerful and strong way.

Garden Designers TOP SECRET Plant Picks

In this photo, the delicate new growth in spring has lovely blushing color and comes across as incredibly feminine and lush.

Garden Designers TOP SECRET Plant PicksSometimes the green on green of ferns layered together is an elegant way to fill an area with hardy and showy textures, this is a common trick that designers employ in those hard to plant low-light spots. But, WOW! Who needs more color when you have this ‘Hart’s Tongue’ fern with a carpet of ‘Oak’ fern underneath?!

Garden designers TOP SECRET Plant Picks

Talk about luscious green on green! WOWZA! This ‘Paris’ Polyphylla truly shines as it stands up tall over a bed of ‘Maidenhair’ fern and glossy ginger foliage.

 

Garden Designers TOP SECRET Plant Picks

Even in a fairly bright spot you have amazing ferny options, such as the leathery, deep green ‘Tassle’ fern.

Garden Designers TOP SECRET Plant Picks

Or use the incredibly beautiful ‘Ghost’ fern as a way to up-light these white allium flowers! This is a vastly under-utilized foliage color in the fern world, there are way too many great ways for this amazingly silver foliage to light up a dark corner or give just the right zing to a darker leaved companion.

Garden Designers TOP SECRET Plant Picks

Used in the foreground of this larger blue-green hosta in the rear, who needs more? The purplish-black stems are an incredibly lovely contrast to the ‘Ghost’ fern’s silver luminescence. But, if you wanted to play up those dark stems even more, pair this combination with the glossy bronze foliage of Beesia (see the photo below for Beesia in action) where it’s heart shaped leaves and white fairy-wand type flowers would bring even more wow-factor to this combination!

Obviously there are so many more ferns than we have room to show off here in one blog post, like the ever-present ‘Sword’ fern that is like a mascot in the NW garden, other than slugs possibly. 🙂 But, even a seemingly pedestrian plant like a ‘Sword’ fern shines with the right plants around it. So, the main take-away this week is that, we designers have this little design secret that may seem to many gardeners like a ho-hum addition to the landscape, but if you know the secret handshake and password, we’re happy to share ideas with you.

 

Garden Designers TOP SECRET Plant PicksOh! Did we NOT mention the secret password??????? Next week……….

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Focusing in the Dark

No night vision goggles are needed here with these foliage plants. Though you do want see them up close and personal. Dark leaved plants are HOT in garden and landscape design and only getting hotter!

Garden designers, TV Shows, Magazines and Botanic Gardens across the country are all talking about this craze. Now that its been a few years, new dark leaved plants are coming out to try every season from fabulous breeders across the globe. Here’s a juicy showing of a few of our good old stand-by’s and some new favorites at Fine Foliage.

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‘Gold Heart’ Bleeding Heart is paired with Actea simplex ‘Hillside Black Beauty’ (Formerly Cimicifuga) and Lamium ‘Ghost’ in this high octane combination. Actea has the added bonus of fragrant white flowers that sway in the breeze so beautifully!

Just imagine the moody possibilities of design with these HIGH contrast colors. With purest and pristine white your design would be THE MOST on trend since black and white is the hottest thing on the fashion catwalk right now! Raaaahr!

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With black, charcoal, ebony, jet, onyx, raven, sable, shadow, slate the options for dark foliage are nearly endless. But, we should also look at the other superstars of deep toned foliage options like burgundy, deep reds, deep purples too.

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This rich, dark mocha colored coleus is paired up with a lovely Carex that acts as a highlighter with the dark foliage focus. And THAT is the key thing to note when using darker foliage colors in the garden. Its the old adage about dark colors receding and light colors coming forward. You want to make sure you have some kind of contrasting color that makes those deep tones shine.
Zingiber 'Midnight Ginger'
Photo Courtesy of Hort Couture
This dramatic Zingiber ‘Midnight Ginger’ is quite showy on its own because of that snow white container.
The matte black ruffled foliage of this Coleus from Hort Couture is called 'Black Rambler'Photo courtesy of Hort Couture

Photo courtesy of Hort Couture

The matte black ruffled foliage of this Coleus from Hort Couture is called ‘Black Rambler’
The bright grass green container makes a lovely contrast to this color.

How about dark moody colors with BOLD variegation? You can have that in a design whether its in shade or sun with these plants.

Begonia Hybrid 'Connie Boswell' at Peace Tree Farm.

Begonia Hybrid ‘Connie Boswell’ at Peace Tree Farm.

Magnificent trailing Begonia at Longwood Gardens.

Magnificent trailing Begonia at Longwood Gardens.

More Begonia’s to ogle from Peace Tree Farm….
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 Carex 'Toffee Twist'

Carex ‘Toffee Twist’

Grass like this Carex often get lovely deepened color in late fall and winter as this one did and with the unusual ‘Autumn Fern’ frond making its way up in the late season right next to it, that accentuated the drama even more!

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Taken in the Bellevue Botanical Gardens, this photo featuring the pairing of ‘Black Mondo’ Grass with a weeping Japanese Maple are texturally striking in a soft and touchable way. But, the mix of the licorice and almost chocolate tones together are simply deee-liscious!

When you consider what colors of foliage you want in your garden this season, think about adding some of the bolder, darker more romantic or mysterious foliage in deeper tones this season. Shine a light in those dark places – a BLACK LIGHT that is!

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