Behind the Private Gates, In the Garden


Ferns, an Elegant Addition to a Garden

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Ferns
Property of Bettie Bearden Pardee – Private Newport

Taking refuge in my shade garden one early evening, spent from the unusual intensity of the day’s heat, it was the ferns with their cool elegance that brought me a sense of relief. And with it a favorite old tune came to mind, Johnny Mercer’s “In the cool, cool, cool of the evening.” How refreshing it was!

With a keyhole cut out of the yew hedge behind the metal bench (where I can peek into my woodland garden,) this vignette is my go-to spot almost year ’round.

Ferns
Photo Credit: Maaike Bernstrom

The Mother Ferns, with their vibrancy and majestic forms, are indeed the mothers of this garden spot. But let me also share with you these and other images and chance pairings throughout the gardens that charm me.

Ferns
Property of Bettie Bearden Pardee – Private Newport

Known as the “Mother Fern,” for obvious reasons, baby fernlets grow right atop the mother’s leaves; snip one off and pin it down atop some dirt to start your own “family.” This pair are wintered over very successfully in our glass-enclosed sun porch.

Mother Fern
Property of Bettie Bearden Pardee – Private Newport

Continuing the fern story, the ghostly white Japanese Painted Fern provides a highlight in the eight pots along the path to the bench.

Another favorite, the Victoria Lady Fern, is quite the specimen, growing at three different angles from the stem.

Ferns
Property of Bettie Bearden Pardee – Private Newport

Ferns are so obliging and low maintenance, growing happily in damp, shady areas with a bit of filtered light. They were a first choice for the just-planted spiral design that accentuates each quadrant of the 2  beds in my Black and White Garden.

Ferns
Property of Bettie Bearden Pardee – Private Newport

Ferns are also willing volunteers, popping up in the most unusual spots. Hesitant to disturb them, I basically “let them have their way” in the garden (I’m not so reasonable with other plants.) As I write this, I’m coming to the realization that they have been getting away with murder for quite some time, but I can’t resist.

Here sprouting between the tight cracks of the cobblestone in the Orangerie Parterres, and two volunteers growing from the base of a tree.

And I love the way ferns “play well with other” plants – sometimes volunteering and sometimes being intentionally introduced as a design element.

Ever the brave…this fern has made it through the prickly thorns of a 30 inches high berberis to offer itself up as a top knot.

Ferns
Property of Bettie Bearden Pardee – Private Newport

What are your favorite ferns?

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Bettie Bearden Pardee

About Bettie Bearden Pardee

Author of Private Newport and Living Newport, garden furniture designer (The Parterre Bench), national lecturer, and entertaining expert. An honoree for the second year on "The Salonniere 100 America's Best Party Hosts", she was also the host and creative producer of "The Presidential Palate: Entertaining at the White House".

4 thoughts on “Ferns, an Elegant Addition to a Garden

  1. Thank you for sharing your fabulous garden and interrupting your meeting to say, “Hello” yesterday. I’d love to show you some great NC gardens if you get down our way. Marty

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