Irritating Plant of the Month - April 2017, the Painted Fern

So there I am, weeding the Woodland Border the other day, and musing to myself about what would be the irritating plant this month.  I am fairly happy with my garden at the moment, spring has sprung and things are growing.  The tulips are in full flower at the moment and the fruit trees are starting to blossom.  It is all about as hunky dory as it gets.  Not for the first time recently I wondered if maybe this month I would give this post a miss as I am not going to force myself to identify something.

Then, as if by magic, there it was in front of me.....
Athyrium niponicum possibly Vidalli.  A great name and on all the pictures a great fern, but for me it is generally an unhappy, sulky, unco-operative plant.  Whilst thinking about writing this post I looked it up and apparently it is very good for shady areas.  At which point the history of this plant came flooding back to me.

I bought this plant probably nine years ago and I thought it was perfect for putting into the shady bit of border around the Bramley tree.  The area is not that dry and I thought it would be happy enough there.  Well it sulked, its two companions that were in the same collection upped and died and several times I thought this one was dead as well.  After a couple of years I decided I had sited it in the wrong place.  Maybe this shade loving fern was not getting enough light?  So I dug it up and moved it into the Woodland Border, which despite the name, is not the most shady of areas in the garden.

Several years later and quite frankly it just has not improved.  It still throws up the odd leaf and generally looks pathetic.  I am currently considering relocating it again into the fernery.  That is a shady part of the garden and quite dank.  The other ferns seem to love it, maybe this will be (in all senses) kill or cure.  I shall think about it.


  1. Sorry but I think it is a wonderful plant!
    I have one in the bog garde where it is permanently wet, it is very happy. One in the woodland in lovely leaf mould soil, it is very happy and two in the shady part of the rockery in improved heavy clay, both very happy.
    I go looking for my new plant of the moment, it could well appear in one of my posts as I like it so much.

    1. Hi Pauline, I'm glad yours is doing better- I wish mine was, I bought it because I liked it but I think it doesn't like me :)

  2. ah, the perennial problem of plants that just don't like our gardens! I've never been able to grow rhubarb. Anything slug prone keels over and dies, no matter how big it gets before they attack. Hawthorn took an age to get going but is v happy now. Yet the neglected ex cut flower border is burgeoning. With what most ppl wld call weeds but I love. Gardens have minds of their own!


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