Beautiful Tree Ferns at Pershore Horticultural College
Following an investment of £5.8m in the college facilities, a group of 100-year-old New Zealand tree ferns are now taking pride of place within the Collections House at Pershore College. After meeting the Director of Horticulture, Diane Whitehouse, and Commercial Manager John Farmer; it’s easy to understand their enthusiasm for the project.
The new Collections House is an imposing glass-fronted building on the north side of the college, which creates a semi-Mediterranean climate for growing a number of carefully selected plants. Its sophisticated censor-controlled system maintains a constant 19-20 degrees centigrade, single-glazed windows maximise the natural light, and there are also automatic ‘grow lights’, as used in the tomato farming industry.
Within its new reception area there’s an impressive living wall, but the main eye-catcher is the collection of Dicksonia squarrosa, commonly known as the tree fern, some of which are already 5.5m (18ft) tall.
To stop the ferns drying out, vertical hydroponics have been installed to drip water down the fibrous trunks, in efforts to mimic the growing conditions of their native New Zealand rainforest.
If you’re thinking of growing your own tree fern, remember they only grow about 2.5cm (1in) per year, but can eventually reach up to 6m (20ft) with a spread of around 5m (16½ft).
They can be situated in containers, outdoors, or in a large greenhouse or conservatory, but will need a sheltered spot and winter protection if grown outside. Water the trunks but avoid watering the crowns. They are generally pest free, but remove any damaged or dead fronds. They prefer a part shade or full shade garden. They like a sandy or loam soil with a pH of acid or neutral soil.
To see the tree ferns for yourself, and to find out more about the courses on offer, contact the college directly for more details, visit https://www.warwickshire.ac.uk/events/open_events/pershore_open_events.aspx