Ferns

The fernery

The Halfway House garden has a natural fernery growing on and around a fallen macrocarpa. It is one of the most popular places in the garden, with visitors likening it to a fairyland.

In 2022 a new phase in the fernery began, thanks to the financial support of the Johnsonville Garden Club. This enabled us to buy tree ferns and ferns not yet naturalised in the garden.

Fern collecting was a popular activity for men and women during the Victorian era. The ferns were collected for the outdoor garden, for indoor pot plants or the conservatory, or catalogued as pressed collections in dedicated fern books.

In 1885, Michael Murphy published a gardening handbook, 'Gardening for New Zealand with Chapters on Poultry & Beekeeping'. In his chapter 'The Fernery' he wrote "The fernery, whether under cover or out of doors, is usually the favourite spot in the flower garden or pleasure grounds."

He recommended that the fernery should occupy a quiet, shady and if possibe, romantic retreat. One of his suggestions for shade and shelter was macrocarpa on the outside and a profusion of tree ferns, which is just what our fernery micro-climate has.

Dr Patrick Brownsey, writing in the Te Ara online encyclopaedia, says New Zealand has 194 native species of ferns and lycophytes.

Kiokio - Blechnum minus - Swamp kiokio

Generally found on banks and besides streams and swamp. Each plant forms a bushy clump and spreads by underground rhizomes. Red and pink new fronds. A great landscape fern. Cold hardy. Tolerates morning and afternoon sun, providing the roots get enough moisture. Fronds reach one to two feet in length. Native.

Supplier: Twigland Gardeners World.
Gifter: 2 x Johnsonville Garden Club.
Planted: 2022. Fernery.

Kiokio - Blechnum montanum - Mountain kiokio

The new fronds have pink, red, orange colour. Forms clumps a foot high. A hardy fern that grows in cold wet alpine conditions. Native.

Supplier: Twigland Gardeners World.
Gifter: 1 x Johnsonville Garden Club.
Planted: 2022. Fernery.

Pyrrosia Eleagnifolia

Ota - Pyrrosia Eleagnifolia - Leather-leaf 

Thick shiny leathery leaves. Grows almost anywhere, rocks, trees, walls. Prefers shade. Growing naturally in the fernery.

Piupiu - Blechnum Discolor - Crown Fern.

Bright green fronds appear to look upright then open out forming a crown appearance. Long dark brown fertile fronds stand upright in centre. Prefers moist soil and dappled light. Lovely ground cover. Grows to two and half feet. Abundant throughout New Zealand. Hardy native.

Supplier: Twigland Gardeners World.
Gifter: 3 x Johnsonville Garden Club.
Planted: 2022. Fernery.

Ponga - Tree Fern

Cyathea Dealbata - Silver Fern.

Relatively fast growing. Shiny green foliage with silvery undersides. Crown develops quickly whilst the trunk is slower. Tolerates sun Shelter from wind. Grows to 33 feet. This fern was used by early Maori for sleeping on as it is soft and lies flat. Common throughout New Zealand. Native.

Supplier: Twigland Gardeners World.
Gifter: 2 x Johnsonville Garden Club.
Planted: 2022. Fernery.

Wheki - Dicksonia Squarrosa

Does best in wind protected and shaded areas. Grows to 20 feet. The old fronds hang down from the crown like a skirt. Wheki was used by Maori and early settlers to build huts and fence enclosures as it lasts a long time in the ground. It continues to be popular for garden fences. Hardy native.

Supplier: Twigland Gardeners World.
Gifter: 3 x Johnsonville Garden Club.
Planted: 2022. Fernery.