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Encyclopedia of Garden Ferns

By Sue Olsen

Olsen lays 40 years of experience with spores and fronds at our muckbooted feet.

Garden Compass

Gardeners who seek an up-to-date, authoritative guide to the wealth of garden-worthy ferns available today will find none better than Sue Olsen. Drawing from four decades of experience as a fern specialist, Olsen leads the reader through every genus with horticultural merit, focusing primarily on the temperate species but also including tropical ones. The remarkably comprehensive plant directory presents succinct descriptions for nearly 1000 ferns from Acrostichum to Woodwardia, with habitat information, cultural recommendations, and help on plant identification. Chapters on the history, cultivation, propagation, and structure of ferns; a series of appendices highlighting plants most likely to thrive in various locations throughout the world and in special conditions; and lists (with contact information) of fern societies, places to see ferns, and specialty nurseries provide readers with everything they need to know to deepen their knowledge and appreciation of ferns. This expansive, well-organized reference is enriched with anecdotal insight and lavishly illustrated with 700 photographs.

Awards for this book: Council on Botanical and Horticultural Literature Award

Media reviews

"Olsen offers the perfect guide to garden-worthy ferns."

—Frank Ronan, BBC Gardens

"If you're a fern expert, this is an essential purchase for your home library. If you're a fern enthusiast who wants to learn more, this is the book for you, too. The information included in [this book] is both concise and comprehensive, and extremely readable."

—Karen Preuss, Northwest Garden News

"This comprehensive volume is a superb reference on the subject."

—Catriona Tudor Erler, Smith Mountain Laker

"If you think one fern looks pretty much like another, this tome comprehensively demonstrates just how varied, versatile, and valuable ferns can be to any garden scheme."

—Lynette Walther, Camden Herald

"This may be the crown jewel of an excellent assembly of local books this year. If you are not a fan of ferns, Sue Olsen's infectious but informative style will convert you."

—Brian Thompson, Washington Park Arboretum Bulletin

"From its lush illustrations to its useful appendices this is a voluptuous volume, equally appealing to the fern maven or the aspiring garder."

—Joan Eiger Gottlieb, Hardy Fern Foundation Quarterly

"A masterpiece."

—Scott Conner, Gardening in the Northwest with Scott Conner

"Sue Olsen has created both a valuable reference work and an artistic paean to the world of ferns."

—Elizabeth Farnsworth, Fiddlehead Forum

"Will be valued not only for the basic information it provides, but also for entertainment as it draws you in with tidbits of history, medicinal uses of ferns, and personal glimpses of fern growers and their gardens around the world."

—Sherry Worthen, Fiddlehead Forum

"Heavily illustrated with superb color photos. ... This volume is a definitive reference for ferns."

SciTech Book News

"Sue Olsen lays 40 years of experience with spores and fronds at our muckbooted feet with her Encyclopedia of Garden Ferns. The remarkably comprehensive plant directory presents succinct descriptions ... along with text on history, cultivation, propagation, and everything readers will want to know to expand their understanding and enjoyment of ferns."

—John Bagnasco, Garden Compass

"[Olsen] could have entitled her ... book Ferns for all Reasons and Seasons because you'll be convinced you need many more of these ultimate foliage beauties after reading Encyclopedia of Garden Ferns."

—Valerie Easton, Seattle Times

"Written for gardeners who want to know which ferns will grow best in their landscapes and how to care for them."

—Richard Churchill, People Places Plants

"An indispensable addition to the bookshelf of every gardener, from the obsessed pteridophile to neophytes with a new-found fancy for fronds."

—C. Colston Burrell, American Gardener

"Will simplify the challenge of turning a bare landscape into a picturesque retreat whether you are a beginner, a pteridophile, or an in-between."

—Jody Headlee, Oakland Press

"This comprehensive reference book, containing details on almost 1,000 ferns, is guaranteed to send committed 'pteridophiles' into raptures. Add more than 700 enticing images, which often illustrate pleasing associations with other garden plants, or specimens in their native habitat, and the euphoria could easily spread to other gardeners."

—Matthew Biggs, Gardens Illustrated

"Typically, books of this kind are used principally for reference and not cover to cover reading. Do not however dismiss the latter idea out of hand, as the narrative style is fluent, articulate, and entertaining."

—Graham Ackers, Pteridologist

About the author

Sue Olsen

Sue Olsen has introduced many ferns to horticulture via her nursery, Foliage Gardens. She is editor of the Hardy Fern Foundation Quarterly and author of the award-winning Encyclopedia of Garden Ferns.

Read more about Sue Olsen

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