Lovely swatches of lace
As insets, ferns add depth to border plantings like this one with bloody cranesbill and variegated hosta.
Photo/Illustration: Jerry Howard
Insets—swatches of lace used to break up and complement surrounding flowery fabrics—emphasize the depth and solidity of their neighbors that, in turn, highlight the airy quality of the lace. Laces also add depth to plantings, as the eye can pierce them, discerning patterns of light and darkness. They cast their ornamental shadows upon broader- leafed neighbors, adding texture to once-smooth surfaces. Baby’s breath (Gypsophila paniculata), bishop’s flower (Ammi majus), cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus), boltonia (Boltonia asteroides), and fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) are among the many useful inset plants.
One of my favorite inset combinations positions the exquisite lace blooms of bishop’s flower against the deep red and purple foliage of barberry, the brilliant red blooms of ‘Lord Baltimore’ hibiscus, and clumps of red-leafed canna. In another border, maidenhair ferns (Adiantum pedatum) mingle delicately with clumps of golden ‘August Moon’ hosta, a pairing edged with the spiraling sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum).