Fall is slowly changing over to winter here in Maine. We have already had one surprise snow storm with another on its way tonight. Over the next three months, we will work outside as much as we can amongst the cold, snow, and frozen ground. Once inside, I have a long list of designs to work on and plant catalogs to pore through. Being inside during the winter months is also a great time to dream of new gardens and fun displays. One display that I have toyed with for years is to have an indoor space decked out like a hunt club lodge. A hunt club lodge would typically have antlers decorating the walls, showing off the trophies from years of hunting. Instead of antlers, I want to display on the walls, giant, mounted stag horn ferns. I can just imagine settling down with a good book and a glass of red wine in front of the fireplace with walls of stag horn ferns hanging all around.
Stag horn ferns (genus Platycerium) are a group of large-leaved, epiphytic ferns from tropical regions of the world. Their cool appearance is due to two types of fronds: sterile and fertile fronds. The sterile fronds cover the roots and protect them from drying out. The fertile fronds are the ones that hang down from the base and resemble deer or elk antlers. When stag horn ferns are grown in gardens, they are usually mounted on a wooden plate and hung from the wall. At CMBG, we have about a half dozen small Platycerium that we grew in containers this past summer. Next week, I hope to mount these onto wooden plates and hang from the wall of my office. A good description on how to mount a stag horn fern is presented here.
Over time, these ferns can become large and quite the show stopper in the garden or conservatory. I have high hopes of bringing our small stag horns along and maybe, one day, when we build a conservatory, we can hang them from the walls like the living horticultural hunt lodge of my dreams.