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Plant of The Week : Ferns

Ferns once ruled the World. Do they still ? Let's get to know them better.

Solar Orientation is a key to sound site planning activity. Grasses are sun lovers.  Lawn grasses get the most attention but there are amazing varieties to consider.

The step to Solar analyzing a site is straight forward and reliable. June 21 and December 21 are unique and different from all other days. Hemisphere Dependent each gets to claim the opposite apex. Note the position of the Sun on a site at Noon either day, and you know the end game for that point on our Planet.

Ferns take special notice.

All things considered if the sunlight is brightening a swatch on June 21st in the Southern Hemisphere it will have light every day of the year. Same day, Northern Hemisphere this may be the only one.

Pteridophyte is my favorite Linnaean label pretty sure, e.e. Cummings did too. Found on every Continent, they are able to thrive in a range of sun need from the  number of minuets to full dose of entire year. 


Siting roads and buildings with the sun in mind from conception through
old age is a base frequently ignored. Ignorance in this case is largely due to inventions from dynamite to solar panels. Nobel did more to change the world physically than any other human so far. Einstein could out do him but hopefully Nobel will hold the prize forever. Mountain Top mining is a Nobel legacy that is one of the latest to gain desperate donor begging onslaught. Dynamite gave humans the chance to improve transportation by making it similar to what the plow did to farming. As we progressed it became easier to be distant from the minute by minute changes to our Solar Days. As we lost touch we started to rely on “policies and percentages.” Doing this in reverse on a given site is fun. Ferns will appreciate your attention. Some like lots of shade and cool environment.

Well-designed roads do too. If you need to go up a mountain to go from East to West take the Northern side seriously first. Though frozen for a longer period of time it will hold up far better than one on the South side. Weather noble concrete or pathetic asphalt a safer longer lasting result will be assured. Instead of every snowstorm turning into repeated ice events or extreme high surface temperatures the shade road will be temperate. Rapid build it wherever attitude and modern machines threw up roads that deteriorate alarmingly fast and provide infrastructure cult that is highly profitable politically. Roads to Nowhere get hyped as stupid spending. Look a little deeper and you will see “by design” in a different light.

Whether shaded by a structure or natural geology or vegetation cover, shade tolerant Fern Gardens can be the least maintenance of all. Because of their widespread tolerance with over 20,000 identified cousins it is understandable that they have provided beauty to the Earth for hundreds
of millions of years. Existing conditions on each parcel will include many opportunities for Ferns. Imagine a large, wide evergreen tree. The area to the South in the Northern Hemisphere has no other trees and to the East a small hedge, to the West no upright plant material. This sets up a potential for 4 gardens based on the amount of available direct sunlight. To the North of the tree Full Shade is the status, that does not mean that no sunlight touches the ground 365.25 days a year but minimal amount is the norm. Plants including Ferns placed there need to be Shade Tolerant. Partial Sun and Partial Shade would describe the areas to the East and West. There is a distinction.

Areas with Eastern exposure will be the first to receive sunlight as it rises. This has 2 distinct ancillary factors. Orchards should be planted on East facing slopes in New England.  This will allow the plants to benefit from soil warming from early morning to after sunset. First the sun will shine on the ground, as the temperature goes up during the day the warmth will continue until after sunset. Conversely the West slope will not receive direct input until afternoon, and then it ends abruptly at sunset. That factor produces far more dew moisture. Grasses and wheat benefit from that effect, for fruit trees, not a good thing. Dew provides the moisture that encourages the growth of mold and other fruit damaging organisms. Wheat has such a tight skin the water slides to the ground and feeds the near surface roots.

Should you not have a ridge and room for an Orchard or row crops use the same understanding of solar input for Ferns. We are fascinated by Ferns for their leaves, not their flowers, since they have none. Full sun loving Ferns have the largest leaves, true shade tolerant varieties the smallest. Fiddlehead ferns are a fun species that taste great and are an expensive commodity when available. They represent in many ways a tasty glimpse into our planet’s past.

Ferns dominated the period known as the Carboniferous Age. With a near fixed amount of water on Earth, their success led to droughts and subsequently fires and physical chaos all over the world. Capturing the abundant Carbon Dioxide they themselves emitted can be staggeringly astonishing as in viewing hundreds of feet of coal under Appalachian mountaintops.

This family deserves a Nobel Prize for their constant positive contribution to our wonderful lives.  

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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