Posted: 07/02/2014 at 12:14
Hi Heather. The British Pteridological Society's website is full of useful info. There may even be a group near you and they're very friendly people. (Yes, I'm a member.)
Another good nursery for buying online is shadyplants.net in Ireland. They have lovely ferns in beautiful condition.
For low-growing evergreen ferns, I can recommend Polystichum setiferum and it's many varieties. They're evergreen and very graceful, and so easy to grow. There's also our native Hart's Tongue, Asplenium scolopendrium, which also has lots of varieties. We have some great native Polypodiums which will grow well on stumps an in hollows in old wood.
There are lots of Dryopteris species, some tall but plenty of lower growing ones. Watch out though, because some are deciduous. Though don't discount deciuous ferns, there are some real beauties, like the many Athyrium hybrids which have some amazing colours. They grow well with bulbs an other plants that die down in summer, like Arums.
Heucheras, Heucherellas and Tiarellas (all related) are lovely among ferns and slugs don't like them. That's the only drawback to Hostas - molluscs.
I think it's a lovely idea to have lots of ferns and a stumpery (but then I would - I'm fanatical about them!) I warn you, once you get a taste for them they really take hold of you. I have about 300!
Best of luck with your project.