The Sensitive fern (Onoclea sensibilis) is a favorite, particularly since none have been planted, so this native fern that has spread liberally through the garden has not cost me a penny. Sporelings most often appear in small voids, so rarely do any require removal. And, while this contributes to what some would call an untidy appearance, this suits my eye.
While Sensitive fern is named for quickly fading in early frosts, it is also troubled by summer heat, and apparently by some insect (below) that I have never caught in the act. Fronds are regularly nibbled by late spring, and in sunnier spots the fern will usually disappear by late July. But, what do I expect for free?
Other ferns are not so sensitive, and only a dense clump of Ostrich ferns (Matteuccia struthiopteris, below) is bothered by any insect that I’ve seen. By mid summer, Japanese beetles will regularly be seen on this clump, but not on another that is slightly more shaded.
Over the past few years, I’ve planted a variety of ferns that will probably take me a few years to sort out, which one is which. There’s plenty of shade in this garden, ferns do well, and they’re a nice textural contrast to hostas and other broadleafs. And, while one or two might have a bit of trouble with insects, that’s just the few and none are bothered by deer.