Pied Beauty

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889)

Glory be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:

Praise him.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Bowed But Not Broken

I can't grow Southern Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum capillus-veneris).  I have tried and tried for lo, these 20 years.  I know all the technical requirements these lovely ferns have: partial to mostly shade, consistently moist (but well-drained!) soil, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.  Yes, I know all that.  I still can't grow it.

Southern Maidenhair Fern

It doesn't matter if I try it in potting soil in containers, or planted in shady flower beds.  It just doesn't work for me.  I hate it when people tell me how easy this fern is for them to grow.  If you have a HUGE specimen, try not to comment about it.  I'm trying to work up the gumption to try again.

Lacy green leaves, delicate black stems

These pictures were taken at the Norfolk Botanical Garden in the pouring rain.  Even so, I was quite inspired.  By the way, I can't grow Northern Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum pedatum) either.  But I haven't killed it yet!


  1. I had one for more than a year and it recently died. My wife commented about the waisted money spent on it, but I thought the year of enjoyment far outweighed the cost.

    It never achieved the size shown in these photos - remaining a small thing, but it was nice to have.

    Good luck with it in the future.

  2. Maindenhair fern seems to do what it wants. It grows wild along the banks of the Coamal River in New Braunfels. It spontaneously established itself in my waterfall. I constantly tries to die in our pots. Go figure

  3. Of course, everyone knows that it's the Comal River, not the slip-of-the-finger Coamal.

  4. I feel your pain. I cannot grow african violets. I know the requirements also but they do not like me.

  5. Whenever I encounter this growing successfully, it's around flowing water. I'm sure you've observed that, though. Good luck with it.

  6. Maybe I need a stream installed! I'll get with the Chief Engineer on that right away! :) It was sure lovely to see in Norfolk, though.

  7. Mine isn't doing well either despite keeping the pot in a shady spot.But the wild ones that spring up on walls always manage to look very happy.

  8. Mine left me. Too hot and dry here in the summer I guess. (And the hot and dry gardener obviously didn't remember to water often enough ;>(

  9. If it's any consolation, I've been unable to grow it here on my corner of Katy either. I haven't tried in a couple of years but I won't swear off it another attempt!