The Fernery

The cool, tranquil green of the fernery offers refuge from the riotous jungle elsewhere. These self-effacing ferns don’t demand attention with a show of flamboyant flowers. They don’t need to attract a pollinator in order to reproduce. Ferns are non flowering, spore-bearing plants. Lift the underside of a fern frond in this house and discover a hidden world of subtle design. On the underside, precise and regular patterns of spore bearing structures can be found. These may be spots, stripes or even chain-like arrangements depending on the species.

These ferns are adapted to damp, humid environments. Some species are epiphytic such as Platycerium, while others like the tropical invasive weed Salvinia are aquatic. Stenochlaena forms writhing masses of rhizomes across the soil surface.

View across the fernery

 

Several species of the carnivorous climber Nepenthes can be seen here too. These also prefer warm habitats with plenty of rainfall. Nepenthes have the most incredible leaf adaptation in the form of a pitcher. Suspended overhead, these traps are essentially open stomachs, ingesting trapped insects. Peer into a pitcher and see how many insects you can spot in the digestive soup.