In spring, mature arboretum-quality trees rub shoulders next to huge uncommon azaleas and rhododendrons at Rocky Hills in Mt. Kisco, New York, one of in excess of 80 distinctive gardens over the United States that have been safeguarded by The Garden Conservancy. Brightly hued blooms flourish, but another wonder is going on simultaneously at ground level. Lapping at lower legs and tickling shins are fronds of each description. Through the years, vast fern states have interwoven their silky brocade in rushes of subtle green conceals. But these ferns are not defaulted groundcovers. Instead, the intricate network is a cautiously curated collection. What’s more, the 80 distinct varieties of Pteridophytes (ferns and comparable plants) inhabitation give the perfect complement to the vivid bushes and flamboyant bulbs of spring.
At present, Rocky Hills is a showplace for fiddleheads underfoot. But before 1990, attention was centered overhead. The garden started in 1956, when Henriette Granville Suhr, the head of furniture and interior structure showrooms for Bloomingdale’s, and her better half, William, obtained the 13-section of land ranch as an end of the week retreat. They had no genuine foundation in gardening, but they found the energy for it as they transformed the property from thistle infested blemish into a sanctuary of outstanding bushes and trees.
Arranging a Shady Garden
By 1990, the garden had become a peaceful obscure scene. Taking into account how to utilize the shade overhang, the then-bereft Henriette contacted fern expert John T. Mickel, Ph.D., senior curator emeritus at the New York Botanical Garden, and requested counsel on storing up a collection. A fellowship was manufactured, and Mickel—who has 150 different ferns in his own yard and who authored Ferns for American Gardens (Timber Press; 2003)— ultimately shared 80 ferns from his own garden collection. With his expertise as a scientist and Henriette’s talent as an architect (she led the concept of retail store showroom furniture shows), they pulled together a deliberately documented carpet of ferns that creates the sentiment of swimming through the forest primitive.
It turned out the garden’s dappled shade was perfect for ferns. Henriette abstained from planting beneath forests of conifers, which outfit too thick of an overhang. Trees with surface-root competition, for example, Norway maples, can likewise risk thirsty ferns. Despite the predominating rocks that gave Rocky Hills its name, Henriette discovered soil pockets between the stone formations to plant. She watered frequently, particularly when the fernery was being established. Other than requiring water and pine-bark mulch to thrive, the plantings immediately slipped into autopilot to shape a luxuriant, supernatural Oz.
The result is an agreement of crosiers in the full spectrum of green with touches of frosty silver and shined bronze from relatively beautiful painted ferns. The frond carpet lets the azaleas and rhododendrons sparkle, while low-developing ferns structure a streaming weave beneath spring blossoms, for example, Spanish bluebells, primroses, forget-me-nots, and spring bulbs. What’s more, spring is just the start, in light of the fact that most ferns persist in prime plumage through autumn, giving a soothing green seafoam interlaced among hostas, Jack-in-the-pulpits, Solomon’s seal, and solid begonias. They might not be “see me” plants, but ferns go all the way with subtle style.
Although Henriette died in 2015, Rocky Hills and its collection of ferns thrive under new stewardship. The current proprietors continue the Suhrs’ dedication and open the garden to people in general through The Garden Conservancy Open Days Program. Visit gardenconservancy.org for more details about this year’s Rocky Hills Open Day on May 19, 2018, and become inundated in verdant paths with fiddleheads washing at your feet.
Fern Plant Combinations
Beneath the lacy shade of dawn redwood, a tapestry of sensitive fern and ostrich fern weaves together with forget-me-nots. With green as a base shading, the purple and yellow blossoms pop. A straightforward wood seat sits at the edge under the redwood, giving the perfect spot to appreciate the natural beauty.
Planting for Your Zone
Here you will find the map of zones.
The fascinating fronds of the crested hart’s tongue fern (Phyllitis scolopendrium ‘Crispa’) look exotic, but actually are perfectly strong from Zones 5–9. In contrast to most of its kindred ferns, the hart’s tongue favors some lime in the dirt. Apparently delicate but shockingly stoic, the northern maidenhair (Adiantum pedatum) spreads to shape an attractive province of chartreuse fronds. It is strong in USDA Zones 2–8.
In May and June the Rocky Hills gardens are loaded up with spring-blossoming bulbs, bushes, perennials, and blooming trees, just as banks of elegant ferns. While green is often associated with spring, not all ferns show green foliage right off the bat in the year. The youthful foliage of autumn fern spreads out striking orange and bronze fronds before turning green in summer.
Groundcover Plants to Control Weeds
Shaping a thick groundcover to muscle out weeds, an insane quilt of Himalayan maidenhair, painted fern and Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides) embraces the ground between the eponymous stones of Rocky Hills. The blend of lime, silver, and emerald foliage creates depth and stresses the one of a kind texture of every fern variety.
Gardening in Rocky Soil
Ferns figure out how to tuck themselves into a wide range of niches and corners. Although the rough base of this stone divider might not be optimal, ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris) and painted fern nevertheless figure out how to thrive. These varieties spread the shading bases: exemplary green and something with a little more style, as variegated cream, mint and plum.
Many mature trees at Rocky Hills—and there are many species—create the dappled shade that ferns appreciate. The spotty shade keeps ferns (and other obscure plants) cool and wet, and shields the hot sun from scorching delicate foliage and blooms.