A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.


Onoclea sensibilis
Sunday, October 22, 2006

Matteuccia struthiopteris or ostrich fern is not the only "weed" fern in my garden. Onoclea sensibilis grows in the deep shade bed with some of my largest hostas and it manages to hold its own. This fern is called the sensitive fern because as soon as you get the first frost or sign of cold in the fall this deciduous fern dies off (but it resurrects in the coming year). As it dies it turns into a rich brown. Here you see the pinnae or the primary leaflets of the delightful fronds that seem to stick out randomly between my hostas. If I only look at them, or slightly touch them they break off. Some 12 years ago I bought one. I may have more than 30 that spread. I break off the ones that intrude (very rarely do they do this) on my hostas. As Vancouver is now a pesticide free city I have increasingly found extra charm in those plants that don't get diseases or get eaten by bugs and slugs. My ferns, and Onoclea sensibilis, in particular excel with benign neglect.


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