Here’s something I’ve sold for a couple or so years now, but one that needs a bit of a shout about, as I have finally got a goodly amount to offer. Pteris wallichiana is a most unusual and highly prized very large fern from the Himalaya and beyond, where it is apparently a bracken-like plant (i.e. running at the root). This is of course a worrying thought if one is considering planting one (or more) in the garden, but I can happily, and honestly (come see for yourself), say that it has grown for me in Frampton’ as a very vigorous, but tidy and self contained patch.
I was warned, when I first put one in the ground just a few years ago, that it may well not survive. No one quite knew how hardy it would be and there were real concerns over the very alkaline nature of my soil. Well, I can happily say that it has remained a rich green, grown to a patch about 1m across and puts up huge fronds, on long dark stipes, to 1.8m tall and nearly 1m across. Not only that, it has come through the shockingly nasty winter of 2009-10 without a scratch (fat new croziers are emerging from the ground as I write).
Martin Rickard in ‘The Plantfinders guide to Garden Ferns’ warns that it prefers acid or neutral soils. As stated above, this cannot be true, as my soil is particularly limey and causes chlorosis (yellowing of the leaves) in many species. He also writes that “in central England it survives, but rarely exceeds 60cm in height’. Martin grew his ferns only about 50 miles north of me, but my plant is three times this size.
Specimens equally as handsome as mine grow between rocks along the underpass area at RHS Rosemoor garden in Devon and are pictured below.