Thursday, 3 May 2012

Pteridomaniacs anonymous

Forget ducks, the weather here this week is probably better suited to pteridophytes. I've spent some time today out in the garden with a camera looking for ferns and there are plenty of fronds emerging and unfurling.
I love their colours, their intricate shapes and how they seem directly connected to the distant past - very Jurassic Park. I don't know enough about British ferns and keep meaning to get a good field guide and learn to ID native species, but I do have just a touch of what the Victorians called 'pteridomania' - fern mania
Collecting ferns was a mid-19th Century craze that reached such pitch that fern collectors - both amateur and professional - had a lasting impact on some species. Charles Kingsley cdame up with the term 'pteridomania'.
He wrote: 'Your daughters, perhaps, have been seized with the prevailing ‘Pteridomania’ and are collecting and buying ferns…and wrangling over inpronouncable names of species, (which seem to be different with every new fern that they buy), till the Pteridomania seems to you something of a bore.’
Most of the ferns in my garden are self-seeded. I have bought a few exotics, but most have brought themselves to me.
The climate here seems to be just right for fern-growing. In wetter places ferns and mosses cover the groung and the boughs of older. Looking around in the garden today I found a few self-setters, some of which I'll leave where they are and others that I may move to somewhere better (from my point of view).  

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