Autumn Ferns - Dryopteris erythrosora - Winter Evergreen - Zone 5b - December 2021

Back in May of this Spring, I planted three Autumn Ferns - Dryopteris erythrosora - that I picked up from a big box nursery in an area of the backyard that is becoming a little Japanese-garden-inspired section with a dwarf Japanese Tamukeyama Maple tree anchoring the bed. I took that photo this morning and it is striking when compared to EVERYTHING else around our yard.  

Those three ferns are seemingly UNAFFECTED by the frost and the onset of Winter.  Everywhere else I look, my ferns are gone.  Ostrich ferns?  Gone.  Japanese Painted Ferns?  Gone.  Ghost Ferns? Gone.  Lady Ferns?  Gone.  But, these?  They're tall, proud and....GREEN.  What the heck is going on?!?

When I planted them, I referenced this listing from the Missouri Botanic Garden that talks about how they are "semi-evergreen".  I noted that in the original post, but I didn't think MUCH about it.  I suppose, I should have because this is a pretty great feature.  One of the things that I'm thinking about for 2022 (should be on my 2022 to-do list) is focusing on how I can add things to make our yard a four-season garden.  These Autumn Ferns sure have Winter appeal, don't they?  Seems like when I think about adding even more ferns to parts of the yard, even more of THESE should be close to the top of my list (2022 plant wish list is here).They didn't ask for much (other than water and shade) and are putting on quite a Winter show.  I can think of ten other places to add these.  

If you go scroll back up and take a closer look at the photo above, you'll also a few other evergreen items in the photo.

First...there's a row of Hicks Upright Yews that are in the far back of the photo. Those are tiny 1# Yews that I planted this Fall.  I kind of snuck this row of Yews in at the tail end of the gardening season this year, but I'm really excited to see them come to life and provide a 'mirror' or 'repeat' of the pattern that I'm aiming to create with the undulating Yew hedge in the far back

Right behind the Yews are a set of Carex Everillo Sedges that are almost lime green in color.  

And, in addition to the Hicks Yews, there are a couple of varieties of Heucheras on the top right of the photo, too: a mix of Heuchera micrantha 'Palace Purple' and Dolce Apple Twist that are interplanted.

This area has probably the BEST four-season color/winter interest of any little vignette in the backyard garden.  Good spot to reference as I plant out the balance of the beds and think about Winter interest. 


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