Fern tablecentre

Whilst researching the history of Vintage Bouquets I have fallen in love with ferns. When I started investigating Edwardian bouquets I thought that Asparagus fern was the only fern the Edwardians used. However I have been amazed at the number of varieties of fern I have found in vintage photos and now know that Asparagus fern comes in many forms.

Guide to Ferns

Asparagus setaceus
Asparagus setaceus Common Names: asparagus fern, plumosa fern, plumosa, lace fern, climbing asparagus.

Fine, feathery, bristle-like, triangular green fronds on long twining stems.

1937 Bridal bouquet with Asparagus setaceus

Asparagus setaceus

1914 Bridesmaid bouquet with Asparagus setaceus

Asparagus setaceus

 

 

Asparagus virgatus
Asparagus virgatus Common Names: tree fern, broom fern.

Crown of dark green, feathery foliage on a straight slender stem; 40cm to 1m long. Delicate filler foliage.

 

 

Asparagus densiflorus (Foxtail)
Asparagus densiflorus `Myersii’ Common Names: Foxtail fern, Plume Asparagus, Asparagus De Meyers.

Long bushy, upright bright emerald green stems covered with tiny soft branches. Used to give line and height in deigns.  

 

 

Asparagus densiflorus Sprengeri
Asparagus densiflorus `Sprengeri’ Common names: emerald feather, emerald fern, basket asparagus.

Trailing, elegant main stems with clusters of narrow, emerald green, needle-like `leaves’. A useful trailing foliage in shower bouquets and as a feathery filler.

1937 Bridesmaid bouquet with Asparagus densiflorus `Sprengeri’

Asparagus densiflorus `Sprengeri’

1914 Bridal Bouquet with Asparagus densiflorus `Sprengeri’  and Asparagus setaceus

Asparagus setaceus and densiflorus-1

 

 

Asparagus asparagoidesSmilaxSmilax Garland
Asparagus asparagoides Common Names: smilax, bridal creeper, bridal veil creeper.

A climbing plant with twisting, wiry stems that can grow up to 3m long. Short branches of small, glossy, ovate shaped green leaves 1 to 7 cm long. It is traditionally used in garlands and swags. It is an excellent foliage for garlands as it is very flexible. Looks great in cascade designs and large bridal shower bouquets.

 

DUNDEE EVENING TELEGRAPH – TUESDAY 04 JUNE 1912

1912 smilax asparagus fern shower bouquet

1922 Bridesmaid Bouquet with Asparagus asparagoides

Asparagus asparagoides

Edwardian Wedding with Asparagus asparagoides foliage

Edwardian Wedding Group 4

 

 

 

Asparagus umbellatus
Asparagus umbellatus Common Names: ming fern, zigzag fern

A woody evergreen shrub with a soft fluffy appearance. This is deceptive as the stems are covered in sharp spines. The tufty needle-like leaflets are emerald green in colour. Excellent filler foliage for large arrangements. It can also be cut into small pieces for smaller table posies and wired work.   

 

 

Sticherus flabellatus Bouquet
Sticherus flabellatus Common Name: umbrella fern.

Slender, erect, woody stem with a terminal `umbrella’ of shiny, dark green, fan-like fronds. Useful for form and texture. Here it has been used to make a neat collar on a modern, hand-tied bouquet.

 

 

Rumohra adiantiformisRumohra adiantiformis

Rumohra adiantiformis Common names: leather leaf, leather fern

Triangular, lacy, shiny, dark green, leathery fronds with scalloped leaflets on both sides  of main stem. I have used it here to back a traditional carnation buttonhole.

Carnation buttonhole

 

 

Maidenhair fern
Adiantum Common Name: Maidenhair fern.

Distinguished by billowy fronds of delicate, green leaves shaped like miniature fans on thin black, hairlike stalks that connect to smooth, black main stalks.

WESTERN TIMESFRIDAY 21 JUNE 1912 

1912 long streamers of pink satin ribbon

 

What an amazing variety of ferns! Asparagus setaceus has got a reputation for being old fashioned. I expect this was because it was rather overused in the past and in the 1970s was used ubiquitously in buttonholes with a carnation. However my research has shown me what an amazing variety of shapes and textures you can find amongst the fern family. I actually really like Asparagus setaceus. I think it is light and dainty and is useful to create length and texture. You do have to be aware of the thorns.

My Christmas wreath used Asparagus setaceus sprayed gold this year. I don’t normally like flowers and foliage `mucked about’ with as nature is beautiful enough. However I adored this dainty golden fern. I would love to create a trailing, shower bouquet with this golden foliage and antique pink roses.

Christmas Wreath

Back in the Summer I had the amazing time at a three day residential course with the very talented Sabine Darrell Flower School. Working in a team we created some amazing modern designs using ferns. I loved the fern filled green table runner we created. Katie Spicer of The Floral Alchemist provided us with a beautiful set of photos at the end of our stay.

Fern tablecentre

Fern tablecentre

Fern tablecentreFern tablecentreFern tablecentre

I also chose to use ferns as foliage in a couple of bouquets I made during my time with Sabine. If you compare these  bouquets with my 1970s and Edwardian inspired bouquets I think you will agree how versatile the humble fern can be. Really pleased that I could use my own Aspargus densiflorus `Myersii’ which is flourishing in a pot in our greenhouse. It really does look like it’s common name of `foxtail’. However the Asparagus setaceus is not looking so happy as it has gone quite yellow. I really do better with garden plants where I can shove them in the soil and let them fend for themselves. I do also have a few garden ferns which would look nice in floral design, but may be not the tree fern!

Edwardian Style Bouquet

1970s Wired Posy Small-20

Umbrella fern bouquetAsparagus setaceus bouquet

If you have any examples of ferns used to great effect in floral design I’d love to showcase them in another Blog post so do get in touch.

 

1 Comment

1 Comment on A Feast of Ferns

  1. Mrs Mary Jessop
    21st August 2018 at 11:31 am (4 months ago)

    Your ferns looks absolutely beautiful, I love ferns myself but find it very hard to get them from garden centres and such like,
    . I have a few questions if you don’t mind? We have a 6 x 4 plastic green house,not a cheap one, it is a very good sturdy one bought 3yrs ago., and what I wanted to ask you is, some of the ferns I would love to have need to be indoors during the winter, would they survive in an unseated plastic greenhouse,tank you,you site has renewe my love for ferns again, xxxxxx

    Reply

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