Martin Rickard’s new book on ferns will be the one-stop volume for those with an interest in these very attractive garden plants and if your gardening interests are only now leaning towards ferns, you will find no better book to guide you on your way as it caters for the beginner and the experienced grower alike. The author’s own interest in ferns dates to the 1960s with membership of the British Pteridological Society; he later established his own successful fern nursery and was awarded Gold Medals in ten successive years for his exhibits at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. He has written extensively on ferns previously and this volume might well be considered the product of a lifetime’s interest and experience.
Fern growing was extraordinarily popular in Victorian Britain when the development of the Wardian case allowed them to be grown in the polluted atmosphere of the day. A new flush of interest in the past twenty years means they are nowadays widely grown once again; this time, thankfully, as trendy and popular outdoor garden plants. This recent interest has also led to a raft of new introductions and, as the author points out, there are many more beautiful and garden-worthy plants on the cusp of introduction as plant explorers to China, Japan, Taiwan, the Himalaya, Drakensberg Mountains and the Andes have found more and more interesting ferns suitable for cultivation in our conditions.
The earlier chapters in the book are both interesting and informative, an excellent introduction and overview of ferns for our gardens. The History of Ferns and Fern Growing is an appealing resume while Using Ferns in the Garden moves quickly to the very practical strength of this book, good advice for the reader with many and varied suggestions for growing ferns in the smallest to the largest of gardens. Choosing Ferns centres around selecting the plant which most suits the position and conditions of your garden and contains a listing of some two to three hundred with recommendations of those most likely to succeed. Propagation has such clear and encouraging instructions for growing your own ferns that one would certainly be tempted to give it a go. Thankfully, Fern Diseases and Pests is a reassuring chapter for these plants are generally trouble free. An A-Z of Ferns is the main body of the book, an alphabetic listing of species, varieties and their cultivars with background information and guidance for successful cultivation and it is very generously illustrated with photographs of plants in wild and garden settings. Appendices list place to buy ferns, gardens in which to see them and societies we might join – everything you would ever need to know!
The book has that very pleasant blend of presenting comprehensive information and guidance in a perfectly accessible and readable style. The enthusiast will not be disappointed while the beginner will be encouraged. Few authors fuse these difficult to accommodate requirements quite so successfully as Martin Rickard does in Ferns for a Cool Temperate Climate!
[Ferns for a Cool Temperate Climate, Martin Rickard, The Crowood Press, 2021, Hardback, 208 pages, £25, ISBN: 978-1-78500-890-0]
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Closing date: Saturday 13th.