The darkest corner of the terrace has been brightened by the coppery tints of new fern fronds recently. This small fern, growing in a terracotta window box outside the barred, bathroom window, is Dryopteris erythrosora or Japanese wood fern. The mature, evergreen fronds, which held their fresh green colour through the winter, form a background to young fronds maturing from salmon pink to a copper tinted olive green. It’s hard to do justice to those colours in words.
The small, round leaves glimpsed between the fern fronds are Muelenbeckia or maidenhair vine, also known as creeping wire vine. The wire thin, dark brown stems blend into the background, making it appear as if the bright green leaves are hovering in mid air. It’s a New Zealand native, recommended for ground cover in its home country, but also very adaptable in containers. Easily multiplied by division – or simply by pulling a handful out of the pot – it thrives in both bright and shady conditions, though it is said not to tolerate full, midday sun. On the terrace I’ve found it a useful ground cover for shrubs in pots – the eucalyptus, olive and winter jasmine – giving a visual link in a rather random collection. I’ve not let it loose in the main plant boxes as I suspect it might soon become too much of a good thing.