Fern Gardens and Woodland Walk
The Fern Garden forms part of a pleasant walk back up to the Terrace and the Glasshouses after touring the lower part of the Gardens. The Fern Garden pool was originally excavated and landscaped in a ‘naturalistic’ style as a Fern Walk between the years of 1862 and 1868 when fern mania ‘Pteridomania’ was at its height.
Over the years all trace of this past was lost as interest was focused elsewhere until all that was left was a hollow sandstone gulley. The redevelopment started in 1996 with the terracing of the banks and the siting of steps at the eastern end. The landscaping continued with the enlargement of the pool and the installation of a drainage channel to bring water to it. In December 2014 all the old wooden revetments and edging were replaced and the site generally spruced up, and we hope to start collecting the water from the pools overflow to water the nursery.
An overlarge hedge of holly to the northern end of the site was reduced in height to allow a view into the Fern Walk. You can now look down onto the crowns of the tree ferns and marvel at their intricacy. Tree ferns are not fully hardy in Birmingham and need winter protection, so they each get their own straw stuffed hessian duvets for the winter.
In autumn and winter when the mist is rising or frost covers the area it can look other worldly, come and see.
This is another route from the lower garden back to the terrace and glasshouses, full of native plants and is a real treasure in the spring when snowdrops are followed by primroses and bluebells, not all English, unfortunately. Any trees that are taken down in this area are cut up and stacked where they fall to provide food for insects; all hazels in the area are coppiced regularly, allowing glades for the bluebells to flourish. At the top of the walk before you reach the main path in the spring there are thousands of species crocuses and scillas, looking like miniature hyacinths, showing their faces to the sun.