Mariton: Other Evergreens

December 24, 2021

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager

Christmas ferns amongst brown leaves in a forest.

Photo by Tim Burris

At this time around the Winter Solstice and Christmas we often think of evergreens.  With so many years at Mariton my idea of evergreen has changed.  The abundant Christmas Fern (Polystichum acrostichoides) always catches my attention, but especially in the winter.  Whether this fern is poking up through the snow or along a bare hillside it always seems to brighten my traipses along the trail.  The sun’s angle is so low at this time of the year.  The shades are particularly interesting early and late on sunny days.

Christmas Ferns and Rhododendrons on a wooded hillside.

Photo by Tim Burris

Combine Christmas Ferns with our native Rhododendron (Rhododendron maximum) and I am totally in a yuletide mood.  Neither one of these plants are conifers like our firs, spruces, and pines.  They also lack the Christmas fragrance.  But I can’t help myself, I know the days will get longer in due time.  I know that snow can drift and the mercury plummet, but the ferns and rhodies will withstand the travails of winter.  If they can take it, then I know I can also.  So, I’m wishing everyone a happy winter.  The more time you spend outdoors the more fun winter becomes.