I had a fern garden on the north side of our house in San Jose, and when we moved to Ferndale, it seemed only natural to do the same. Only difference, here I didn’t have to buy a lot of the ferns, I just dig them up from other parts of the yard. Ferns grow so well in Ferndale that I see them growing out of people’s rain gutters, and even growing on vehicles that are being driven on a daily basis.

While my garden has some varieties of ferns that aren’t native locally, here are the natives that I have found.


Bracken Fern

Lady Fern

(Athyrium filix-femina) – Saw this on a native plant list and wanted to buy one, good thing I didn’t because we already have them growing in our yard, I just didn’t know what they were.

Leather Leaf Fern

Maidenhair Fern

Western Sword Fern


Giant Horsetail

(Equisetum telmateia) – If there is one thing I hate about our house in Ferndale, it’s that the yard is host to this scourge of the plant kingdom. Having survived since the era when dinosaurs roamed the earth, it has developed a resistance to just about every attack you can imagine. It’s high silica content make it unpalatable for animals, it spreads by both deep underground rhizomes and spores, and it’s impervious to most herbicides. It will laugh at you as you spray it with Round-Up (which I don’t use anymore), and if you pick them, you’ll leave the rhizome and in a matter of just a few days the one you picked will be replaced by 5 more to take it’s place. But if you don’t pick them, they’ll take over your entire yard and they can grow to be about 4-5ft tall. The winter that I donated my kidney to Lori we both couldn’t get out and do gardening for several months, and our whole backyard disappeared under a forest of horsetails. I literally could have a full time job picking horsetails from our yard. If we ever decide to buy another house, if I see one horsetail on the property, we will cross that house off my list.

The one herbicide that will knock them down (and quickly) is Element 4, but it is a pretty nasty chemical and I don’t use it anywhere I grow food. I have experimented with injecting it directly into each stem using a hypodermic needle, and while super labor intensive, it does work, saves on the amount of this expensive herbicide you have to use, and it less likely to kill nearby plants.

Online Fern Resources