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Hardy ferns are the most ornamantal of foliage plants, and their near-infinite diversity guarantees that every garden can make good use of them. Ferns require little care and will thrive in many locations that would discourage fussier plants. Most prefer acid, woodsy soil and the majority require shade (meaning near total protection from summer sun), though there are important exceptions such as Athyrium felix-femina, the Lady Fern, or Dennstaedtia punctilobula, the Hay-Scented Fern, both of which prosper in full sun.

Ferns are slow growers, but once established they provide long-lasting and reliable beauty starting with the fresh green fiddle-heads of early spring and ending with the golden, coppery haze of frost-touched fronds in fall.

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