1. Christmas fern
Name: Polystichum acrostichoides
USDA hardiness zones: 3 to 8
Size: 1 to 2 feet tall and wide
Conditions: Partial to full shade; moist to dry well-drained soil
Once established, Christmas fern is quite possibly the toughest plant in the world. This evergreen serves as a reliable filler in the shade garden and a year-round staple in cut-flower arrangements. In spring, silvery fiddleheads unfurl into sturdy upright fronds that relax toward the ground as they mature. Growth radiates from a central rhizome, forming a 2-foot mound over time. Christmas fern tolerates poor, dry, and rocky soils, but will not survive in a spot that is too boggy or alkaline.
Name: Fothergilla major
Zones: 4 to 8
Size: 6 to 8 feet tall; 5 to 9 feet wide
Conditions: Full sun to partial shade; moist, well-drained soil
Fothergilla is a star in my garden from early spring until the last leaf drops in November. Fragrant white bottlebrush flowers appear…
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