Ferns are simply gorgeous and there’s no excuse to miss their fascinating, delicate greenery on Lanzarote.
Ferns and ivies aren’t usually associated with Lanzarote. These ancient plants are more generally found in temperate climates,where they thrive in moist, sheltered areas such as caves. While 65 species of ferns can be found on the Canary Islands, most are confined to the humid, shady, green interiors of the western isles.
This is bad news for fern lovers on Lanzarote – and the amount of people who are devoted to these elegant, green plants is surprising. Their simple, pleasing patterns, primitive structure and rich, rewarding colours seem to calm us and cool us down merely by looking at them. They whisper of peace, beauty and enchantment.
Nevertheless, there is one place where ferns come into their own on the Canaries. The central courtyard of many traditional homes is a shaded area which is protected from the wind and only gets direct sunlight for a few hours in the middle of the day. This makes it perfect for ferns, and some of the most spectacular patios on the islands have made ferns their central feature.
You can also find them in the indoor gardens of certain hotels, where their attractive lush greenery offers sun-dazed holiday makers a cool welcoming alternative.
If you want to make the most of ferns at home, then you’ll need to do it indoors, in a patio or, if you’re very lucky, an underground nook outdoors where moisture and shade can be found.
When buying ferns, be sure to find out whether they’re evergreen (the leaves survive all year round) or deciduous (they die back). Ask the garden centre for advice, and be sure to take care of these hugely rewarding plants. Try these ferns for starters:
The gorgeously delicate Himalayan maidenhair fern, Adiantum venustum, thrives in shade or dappled shade. As it gets older, its lovely, light green fronds become darker. This is a fern that you must take extra care to protect from Lanzarote’s No. 1 threat – dry, withering wind.
Known as the autumn fern, Dryopteris erythrosora is an unusual fern with red new growth in spring, which eventually turns bronze and then green. It’s evergreen and just needs a little tidying up in early spring.
The shuttlecock fern, or ostrich fern Matteuccia struthiopteris has naturalised in parts of Europe. It sends up bright green ‘shuttlecocks’ in early spring and develops into a handsome plant. It prefers a moist soil.
This is a classic looking fern, with the elegant, tapering fronds that we all associate with the `plant. In spring, this deciduous fern unfurls to produce striking fronds that are 90cm high. If you have space, it looks particularly effective planted in a group.