Garden Photo of the Day

The Fern Fairway

Ferns turn a narrow space into a garden

Today we’re back in Cherry Ong’s fabulous garden in British Columbia.

The side garden developed this year is entirely a shade garden featuring ferns. We had so many names for it, since it was a long narrow strip. We settled (for now) on calling it the Fern Fairway. The area is hard to photograph given its width.

To start the garden, I used some perennials that I was already growing in containers. I varied the heights of the containers to create more vertical interest especially at eye level, though I kept the diameter of the pots 14 inches or less so as not to block the walkway access.

The containers are varied. Some are finds from Craigslist, like the metal lattice weave urns; the others are plastic, ceramic, or galvanized iron. I did luck out by finding some corten steel planters made by very talented local designer Todd Holloway. For the most part, I tried to use what I had. I added some garden glass, metal buoy, souvenirs, and found objects from various places to add interest to the corridor. Of course, I couldn’t resist adding annuals because of the color and additional lushness that they bring.

Plumose soft shield fern (Polystichum setiferum ‘Plumosomultilobum’, Zones 6–8)

A heuchera brings warm foliage color to the Fern Fairway.

Southern maidenhair fern (Adiantum capillusveneris, Zones 5–8), variegated tongue fern (Pyrrosia lingua ‘Ogon-Nishiki’, Zones 6–10), and Korean rock fern (Polystichum tsussimense, Zones 6–9)

It isn’t all ferns in the Fern Fairway. Coleus brings bold color.

Maidenhair spleenwort (Asplenium trichomanes, Zones 3–9)

Containers attached to the fence add height and interest in the narrow space.

Tuberous begonias (Zones 10–11 or as annual/tender bulb) add flowers to the mix.

The Fern Fairway is full of diverse foliage colors.

Rosy maidenhair fern (Adiantum hispidulum, Zones 8–10) gets its name from the pinkish color of the new fronds. Here the color perfectly echoes that of the heuchera it is paired with.

A Japanese painted fern (Athyrium niponicum pictum ‘Regal Red’, Zones 3–8) also sits with a perfect heuchera companion.


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View Comments


  1. User avater
    treasuresmom 10/25/2019

    Love that pic of the soft shield fern. Does it normally have that layered look like that or is it just a matter of how you took the photo?

    1. perenniallycrazy 10/25/2019

      Yes it does. It looks amazing when the new foliage emerges.

  2. user-7525974 10/25/2019

    I love your fern fairway!

    1. perenniallycrazy 10/25/2019

      Thank you.

  3. annek 10/25/2019

    Cherry, your fern fairway is divine. The various containers are a delight and - oh! - Those ferns.!! Your photography is stunning too!

    1. perenniallycrazy 10/25/2019

      Thank you Kielian. Wondering how your amazing garden is this fall? Hope you will share some photos with us.

  4. Quiltingmamma 10/25/2019 drool worthy. Ottawa is entering into its 5-6 month dormant period.....I miss the West Coast. You have such a wonderful eye for design and as mentioned, the photography is stunning. I think I have to go back and take a third look...

    1. perenniallycrazy 10/26/2019

      Awww, thanks Quiltingmama. Hope you can visit the Westcoast again and again.

  5. User avater
    simplesue 10/25/2019

    Your amazingly professional photography gives the feeling of actually being there in your garden. I had been feeling sort of ready for a winter hibernation/rest from gardening until I saw this post. So inspiring, so beautiful.

    1. perenniallycrazy 10/26/2019

      I think we're both ready for winter hibernation, though honestly, I'm not even close to finished with regards to the chores of closing the garden for the season. I'm sure we will get the winter itch to garden when the New Year arrives. Happy weekend!

  6. btucker9675 10/25/2019

    So gorgeous! The heucheras are perfect foils for the ferns, as is that stunning coleus. I am inspired!

    1. perenniallycrazy 10/26/2019

      Thank you. Coleus for the summer and heucheras for the winter to sooth our want for garden color, right?

  7. sheila_schultz 10/25/2019

    Cherry... your artistry with plants and containers continues to reach the highest level of design. The combinations you thoughtfully create are sensual in their beauty. Every year you outdo yourself, I cannot imagine the magic that will be your gardens in 2020!

    1. perenniallycrazy 10/26/2019

      Thank you very much for your kind words Sheila. Your award winning container designs continue to be an inspiration to me. I do look them up with my past Fine Gardening issues every year.

  8. Meelianthus 10/25/2019

    Another beautiful stroll thru your gardens Cherry is always a great delight. I am a huge fern enthusiast myself, stuffed everywhere in my gardens from the tiniest to some 5 footers, so I always love seeing ferns in others gardens and your arrangements are stunning.

    1. perenniallycrazy 10/26/2019

      Thank you. Who doesn't love ferns? Wish we were neighbors and could share plants with each other eh?

  9. Cenepk10 10/26/2019

    Cherry is truly a gifted gardener whose visual artistry is so unique & unmatched as far as I’ve seen. Stunning combining of details .... Really feel blessed to see any of Cherry’s work. She has a tremendous Instagram page as well. Glad you shared !!!!

  10. User avater
    meander_michaele 10/26/2019

    Hi, Cherry, everything is outstanding. It just occurred to me that you should have a youtube channel where we can hear gardening words of wisdom straight from the source!

  11. NewberryNikki 10/26/2019

    I’m in love with your Fern Fairway! Huecheras and coleus are two of my favorite plants, and yours are perfect!

  12. User avater
    vanhatalosuomi 10/30/2019

    I too really enjoyed seeing your photos! I'm a fan of the great foliage but also the wonderful containers which really add so much to the look you've achieved!

  13. user-5117752 11/01/2019

    Ohhhh! I'm just sooooo envious of your eye for color and design. You certainly have a magic touch!!! And, I love Michaele's suggestion of your having a youtube channel. Do, do think about it!

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