In this large class will be found many of our most useful decorative ferns. We use them for cutting, in veranda boxes, as window plants, and for the hanging baskets. Many of these have been mentioned in other classes, because their use is varied. Some years ago at Kew Garden we remember seeing baskets of adiantum and davallia three feet in diameter. They were covered on all sides, a perfect ball, and we have all seen magnificent baskets of Nephrol-epis exaltata and N. exaltata Boston-iensis. There are at present several hanging baskets of the latter as well as of old N. tuberosum at our botanic garden that are at least eight feet in diameter; they are grand objects for large conservatories.
The truly climbing species, which climbs as perfectly as smilax, is Lygo-dium scandens (Japonicum). This was largely grown about twenty years ago as a decorative plant, and was used as we now use Asparagus plumosus. It is now little heard of; possibly the latter beautiful and useful plant has displaced it in public favor. There are several species of lygodium and an interesting item appears in the " Book of Ferns," which says that our native Lygodium palmatum, which grows from Massachusetts southward, was likely to become extinct in the state of Connecticut, and was protected by a law passed by the state legislature forbidding its being gathered, under a penalty of $100. It would be interesting to know whether that was a law made to be kept, or, like most of our laws, made to be broken.
Nephrolepis Exaltata Bostoniensis.
Nephrolepis Piersoni Elegantissima.
The trailing ferns are of the greatest use to the amateur who has a fernery as well as to the commercial man for baskets, etc. They cover walls, trunks of large ferns and rocks.
The davallias are best known and are grand for this purpose, spreading out into large masses. Their rhizomes (or creeping stems) creep on the surface and are ornamental as well as the fronds. Many of the beautiful species are from warm countries, but will thrive wherever 50 degrees is kept in winter. Little- soil but thorough drainage is the great requisite. Their surface rhizomes when growing should always be kept moist, and when partially resting in winter never allowed to get dry.
Some of the finest of this beautiful genus are: D. Canadensis, D. bullata, D. Tyermanni, D. dissecta, D. immersa, D. Mariesii, D. Novse-Zelandiae, D. pen-taphylla. The last six species are especially adapted for hanging baskets. Their curious and hairy rhizomes, resembling the paw of some small animal, give rise to their popular name of hare's foot, squirrel's foot, etc. Poly-podium aureum is often called the hare's foot.
The nephrolepis need more soil for their roots and are not so truly trailers as the davallias. They are so well known little need be said here. They multiply fast, and if given surface room soon form large masses. Their stolons, or what we would call in a strawberry a runner, spread out in all directions, sometimes above and sometimes below the surface, but from them there spring up a few fronds, which are most easily taken off to form another plant, or left to add to the size of the parent stock.
We think the nephrolepis is the most useful of ferns grown, especially to a commercial florist, and at the present there is more glass devoted to their culture than any other six genera except the adiantums. Years ago N. tuberosa was our standard fern for veranda boxes. It is now seldom seen because we have the N. exaltata Bostoniensis, and now Scottii promises almost to supplant it in popular favor.
N. Scottii is not more graceful and as a decorative plant not more useful than the Boston variety, but it has the advantage of making a perfect specimen in a small pot. There seems an unlimited use for these beautiful ferns. In vases and windows or veranda-boxes they are grand. If not neglected for water they do well in the broadest sun. There is scarcely a single plant that does so well in a living room, always satisfactory, and what is finer than a specimen plant?
Nephrolepis Exaltata Bostoniensis Scottii.
Nephrolepis Rufescens Tripinnatifida.
Nephrolepis Davallioides Furcans.
N. Piersoni is still more beautiful, and the still newer N. Piersoni ele-gantissima is simply superb and charms all who see it. And there are others. Grand as they are either in large or small specimens, they are not so useful for general use as Scottii or the old Bostoniensis.
The gleichenia is another beautiful genus that spreads by rhizomes, and for the private fernery is among the handsomest but not so easily managed as the davallia. Gleichenia Boryi, G. circinati, G. dicarpa, G. polypoides, G. rupestris, and varieties of these are mentioned as fine trailing ferns, as are many of the polypodiums, and of easy management. P. aureum, P. Billardieri, P. Paradiseae, P. repens, P. sororium and P. verrucosum are highly commended for any place where ferns of a creeping or trailing habit are desired.
The drooping ferns are those having drooping or pendulous fronds and are more valuable for hanging baskets than any other class, and none is better known or better for the purpose than the splendid genus nephrolepis. By their stoloniferous habit young plants soon emerge from the outside of the baskets in all directions. Bostoniensis is unequalled as a basket plant, makes a grand specimen in a pot or tub, withstands the dry heat of a sitting-room remarkably well, equal to a kentia palm, and does fairly well in the broad sun if well provided with water.
N. cordifolia is known among florists generally as tuberosa because the underground stolons bear tubers. This species, although from tropical America, lives and grows in our cool house and for vases and veranda-boxes is the hardiest of all; N. davallioides, and its beautiful form, furcans. Then there are several species or varieties, one known among us as cordata compacta, shorter in the frond but making a very compact, dark green, handsome plant.
Several of the adiantums have a drooping form and for private collections are beautiful, but not florists' plants. A. coreinnum is a beautiful species, and with it are recommended for baskets caudatum, digitatum, lunulatum, Moorei and others.