The filling of small ferneries for the table is now an important branch of business. We should endeavor to make these as satisfactory as possible, for they are short lived at best. We get them returned in the condition of mud and again as dry as a rock. It will not pay us all to be raising our young ferns, and unless you are in it with all facilities, leave it to the specialist. Ferns that are small, compact growing, would be too slow in growing to be profitable, so it is small plants of quick growing, larger kinds that are mostly used for this purpose. The spores are sown in winter or early spring and the plants delivered to us from 2-inch pots in the fall months.
A night temperature of 60 degrees, with a cool bottom and partial shade, is the place to grow on the young ferns. You don't want them to grow fast, but to fill up and be strong and robust. An eastern firm which raises several hundred thousand young ferns for this purpose gave me the following list as those best suited for the purpose, the first four being most useful in the center: Pteris cretica magnifica, Pteris cretica albo-lineata, Pteris Victoriae (variegated), Pteris argyraea, Cyrto-mium falcatum, Aspidium angulare, Blechnum occidentale, Blechnum Brazil-iense, Davallia stricta, Lomaria ciliata, Lomaria Gibba, Lastrea opaca, Lastrea chrysoloba, Lastrea artistata variegata, Nephrodium hertypes, Onychium Japoni-cum, Polystichum corianum, Polystichum setosum, Polystichum pubescens, Pteris biaurita argentea, Pteris serrulata, Pteris cristata, Pteris nana compacta, Pteris voluta, Pteris cretica Mayii (variegated), Selaginella Emiliana (for edging).
With the exception of the list last quoted, in which the names of some varieties may not be correct, but by which they are best known, I have followed out the nomenclature of Hooker and Baker, as used in the "Book of Choice Ferns," as those names will eventually prevail. In doing so, however, I found with my limited knowledge of ferns that names have been much changed in forty years. What we knew as Lastrea felix-mas is now Nephrodium felix-mas, and many less familiar cases.
In conclusion, if you are not brought in contact with any class of plants you cannot quickly memorize their names, but all plants under your care or that you handle you should know correctly. To ask the name in a botanic garden or at your neighbor's and forget it the next moment is waste of time and an annoyance. "Let me see; what is that fern? I forgot." The professor says, "That is Onychium Japonicum." " Oh, yes, yes, yes, of course; and what's that?" And before you have got to the door you have forgotten the very sound of the name.
To be reminiscent once more. Somewhere about the year '60 of last century the writer had the first ' serious attack of the "tender passion." The cause of the attack and outbreak was much his senior, and having no funds to buy an album or a volume of Byron, he made a collection of British ferns, dried them in a book, and presented them, named, and the collection without varieties was almost complete with the exception, perhaps, of ten species. Now, I have forgotten what size glove that young woman wore, or whether her hair was in curls or brushed back a la the Empress Eugenie, but I will never forget how to write Asplenium Ruta-muraria, although I have not seen Ruta-muraria or the old woman nigh on to forty years. Look at a plant and write it down; once written and spelt correctly, you will never forget. The writer has a fair memory for anecdotes, because they can be filled in as you go along, but no good for names unless he writes them down; then they stick in that laboratory which is a mystery to all of us.