Fern Garden

Fern Boardwalk

Crossing a small brook along a wooden bridge at the southern edge of the Wildflower Loop Trail, one may observe a fine collection of several types of ferns. A few of the ferns on both sides of the bridge were planted at various times since 1996 to increase the abundance and diversity of fern species in the area, but most are naturally occurring. Four fern species are dominant in the damp soils surrounding the brook, which provide the preferred habitat for cinnamon fern (Osmunda cinnamomea) and the closely related interrupted fern (O. claytoniana), as well as suitable options for the highly adaptable sensitive fern (Onoclea sensibilis) and lady fern (Athyrium filix-foemina).

Far more demanding of wetland habitat, royal fern (Osmunda regalis) and marsh fern (Thelypteris palustris) are present on a small scale near the edges of the brook, along with a few wildflowers.

To the east of the brook and slightly uphill from the wet zone, a few clumps of common woodfern (Dryopteris spinulosa), Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides), and maidenhair fern (Adiantum pedatum) enhance the area with their distinctive fronds. These last two species have a further presence along the nearby wooded sections of the trail, where many more types of ferns including a few uncommon species may be observed among extensive wildflower plantings. One of those, ostrich fern (Matteuccia pensylvanica), produces edible fiddleheads.