This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
The transplanting of ferns, and their growth after transplantation, is quite an easy matter. The ravine just north of Cornell University is full of them, as are the ravines of the Cayuga and other lake regions. It is fortunate for us that they do not in all this rich, wheat-land region, grow to our annoyance in pastures or open lands., as they do in New England. The roots and soil about the roots removed with them, ferns become beautiful objects for globe and other glasses and glass covers, and easily keep all winter. There arc students and others here whose display of them and the green and whhite mosses of Buttermilk ravine are quite commendable. We have also seen them planted on the north side of houses, where they grow in ornamental beds and become admired pets of the family. We believe'they are as healthful as any other plant.
"Ferns are much sought after for floral decoration. Their feathery plumes, pinnated leaves, and graceful forms are very beautiful. They differ from the grasses, for those gathered late in the Autumn retain their color better than the first ferns of June. The sap has hardened in their leaves. We have gathered them late in November, when they were surrounded by snow, and they have kept green all the winter. The running fern is a lovely decoration for walls and pictures; its flowers add much to its grace and beauty, but it fades quickly, and by Christmas but a faint green remains. Dip them in Judson's dye (following the directions given on the bottle for dyeing ribbons), and you will keep their lovely colors. After they have been thoroughly pressed in heavy books, then dye them, spread on paper and dry in the shade, and then press them again. Thus treated, they will last for years. Maiden-hair, the most graceful of our ferns, soon loses its color, but dyed, it is an addition to every collection of grasses or ferns.
Parsley Fern is very beautiful; its soft, feathery leaves are always sought after. These, if gathered late in the Autumn, will retain their color much better.
The Male Fern, with its stiff stems, if well prssed, looks beautiful. We mingle it with the many colored leaves of Autumn, or we pin it to the wall paper, around pictures, or over lace or muslin curtains, and its effects are charming.
The branch of Sumac, gathered soon after the frost has appeared, or even before, press perfectly and keep their color finely. If varnished with map varnish they never fade. Branches of this tree interspersed with the ferns are very ornamental. We have made exceedingly pretty crosses from its leaves, sewing each one separately over the other on a pasteboard cross. Anchors and stars can also be made of its lance-shaped leaves. Thus suspended over engravings, or curtains, they are very ornamental, and are easily dusted, and essential in the eyes of a good housewife.
Ferns have yielded little of importance during the past year, if we except the interminable and hard-named varieties of British species, which we owe to the enthusiasm of cultivators. The Dicksonia Sellowiana, however, a tree fern of Brazil, which has found its way to the Belgian gardens, will be a nice addition to our collections; Davillia (or Humata) Tyermanii is a charming basket fern from West tropical Africa, its small deltoid tripinnate fronds and silvery-scaled rhizomes being singularly ornamental. Elaphoglossum Herminieri, christened the Eel Fern by Dr. Seeman, from the resemblance of its clustered glossy iridescent sterile fronds to clusters of silvery eels, is a good stove basket fern; and Trichomanes au-riculatum is a lovely creeping stemned, hothouse film fern, with transparent green, narrow, bipinnatifid fronds. Asplenium marinum Thompsoniae and Polypodium vulgare cornu-biense (or Whytei, as it is sometimes called) may be mentioned as most distinct looking bipinnatifid varieties of the Sea Spleenwort and common Polybody respectively, which, as is well known, are normally pinnatifid only.- Gardener's Chronicle.