Friday, February 6, 2009

Onoclea sensibilis

Back later to write about these...
OK, finally back. Wedding Anniversary, trips to town, and ISP with 'connectivity issues' and a number of other things seemed to get in the way of me finally getting something written about these ferns. In some sections of our woods, these are the most common fern, growing in large swales. They seem to be happy in shade but also in sun if they are in a damp or swampy place. Some grow right at the edge of one of our creeks, sometimes submerged in spring after a rain. Some are in nice, humusy, rich, woodsy soil and others, especially near a creek, seem to be growing in sand or gravel, so I would say these are pretty adaptable. I have transplanted a number of them into the gardens, especially in places where I wanted to kind of fill in a shady place which was a little too shady for other things to grow.

These are called Sensitive Ferns, not because of any delicacy, but rather because they die back at the first hint of frost. Not bad in the fall, but a problem if we have an early spring and then a late freeze. They do come back, but I know they aren't happy about the whole thing. They spread by underground rhizomes and I wouldn't put them in any place where they don't have alot of room, because they do fill an area rather quickly. I learned that early on and have one lovely bed that still has a few of a named version of this fern called 'Ursula's Red' with red stems that should just go somewhere else, but I leave it and just dig out the extras every spring. These are native to and quite abundant in eastern North America.
In the center of the picture above you can see the fertile fronds that are produced late in the summer. They are good in dry arrangements for winter, especially if you're trying to keep these from spreading too much since picking these fronds off will keep them from spreading the spores in late winter or early the next spring.
My book says that these are 1-3 feet tall, but I've rarely seen them over 18 inches tall here. Another widely adaptable one climate wise going from zone 2-10
I'll call this today's post since it was mostly written today and hope to get back on track tomorrow. I expect that some of the internet problems still came from the ice storm. I talked to a man at church yesterday who had just gotten his electricity back almost 10 days after the storm. I'm glad we weren't out that long. I probably would have been ready to kill something by then. I spent a week without electricity about 15 years ago after a bad snow storm with 3 kids, 4 cats and a dog inside and 4 goats and numerous chickens to take care of outside. That was an experience I don't want to repeat too often. On top of the snow, the temperatures were below zero for the high for a lot of those days. It was an adventure I guess, but I think I'm getting a little old for that kind of adventure these days.

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