Speaker: Larry Mellichamp
Ferns are wonderful plants - they touch our lives when we walk into the florist shop or through the forest floor. Everyone knows a fern; our grandmothers probably had a big fern on the porch that seemed to live forever.
Ferns are constants in the garden that give us a sense of place. In the Southeast, we have many native ferns that are cold hardy and good for the garden. They are seen as difficult to identify and puzzling to place. You have to know whether they are clumpers or creepers, and which are evergreen or deciduous.
As you design your fernery or wildflower garden, properly placed ferns help provide delicate backgrounds, bold forms, and cozy companions. Ferns are ancient plants going back 300 million years and have persisted through all the climatic and biotic changes that the earth has seen. Today they help remind us of the strength of plants to survive in any habitat.
Larry Mellichamp is a professor of botany at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte where he has taught for over 30 years. He is also director of the university's botanical gardens. He has written many technical and popular articles on plants and gardening, appears regularly in the local media, and has co-authored four books, including Bizarre Botanicals: Weird and Wonderful Plants You Can Grow (with Paula Gross). Larry is also a treasured Wing Haven volunteer and currently serves on the Garden Committee.