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Graham Rice's New Plants Blog

Graham Rice Garden writer and plantsman Northamptonshire and Pennsylvania

Editor-in-Chief of the RHS Encyclopedia of Perennials; writer for a wide range of newspapers and magazines including The Garden and The Plantsman; member of the RHS Herbaceous Plant Committee and Floral Trials Committee; author of many books on plants and gardens.

  • Date Joined: 18 Oct 2006

Fernatix: New at Hampton Court ‘09

Posted by Graham Rice on 05 Jul 2009 at 12:16 PM

Athyrium 'Ocean's Fury' - New at the 2009 Hampton Court Palace Flower Show’ Image: ©Terra Nova NurseriesThere's been a flurry of new silvery ferns released in recent years, but the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show marks the debut of one which has more quiet elegance than brilliant colour. Athyrium ‘Ocean's Fury' can be found on the Fernatix exhibit along with a collection of other lovely ferns.

This is a lovely fern. ‘Ocean's Fury' has upright, quietly silvered fronds which arch over at the tips and with their delicate crests the effect is like tumbling ocean waves. sea. The slightly reddish stems add some intriguing extra colouring.

Reaching 60-90cm/2-3ft in height, Steve Fletcher of Fernatix tells me that the plant is slow to get going after propagation, but the plants he now has on sale are three years old and growing vigorously. The nursery does the hard work for you. They'll be splendid in the garden, their silvery colouring lighting up shady places.

‘Ocean's Fury' is a cross between Athyrium niponicum var. pictum and Athyrium filix-femina ‘Congestum Cristatum'. It was raised by American plant breeder Thurman Maness, from Wildwood in North Carolina, who has also raised some superb perennial lobelias and a number of other fine perennials.

He told me about the origins of ‘Ocean's Fury': "In the early 1980s, I was so fond of the Japanese Painted fern, Athyrium niponicum var. pictum, that I tried my hand at crossing all the Athyriums that produce spores for me. I got many variations but finally chose only two as most of the plants were rather plain looking and nothing out of the ordinary.

Athyrium 'Ocean's Fury' - New at the 2009 Hampton Court Palace Flower Show’ Image: ©Terra Nova Nurseries"What I find so appealing about ‘Ocean's Fury' is its ability to produce fronds that divide at the tips and seemingly it does it differently each time. It also twists and turns, somewhat giving the appearance of ocean waves crashing against the shore or rocks.

"I had several other very pale, silvery types that I still grow in my own garden.  There was one that looked just like ‘Ocean's Fury', except that it was only a third of the size. There seemed to be no interest in a fern that small, at the time. So it somehow fell by the wayside."

Athyrium ‘Ocean's Fury' is on sale on the Fernatix exhibit at the show and will soon be available online at the Fernatix website.

 

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