I must admit that there have been moments when I fell so hard and so fast for a fern it didn't even occur to me to find out whether it was native, or invasive or what. Those reckless days are over, thanks to the lushly informative Native Ferns, Mosses, & Grasses by William Cullina.
Native Ferns, Mosses, & Grasses- From Emerald Carpet to Amber Wave: Serene and Sensuous Plants For The Garden is serene and sensuous itself. I pored over the whole thing, with endless cups of tea, despite the fact that I maybe have room for a couple more ferns, not acres of grass.
For each type of fern, moss, and grass, Cullina provides in-depth (but not intimidating) information, including Latin and common names, pronunciation, family, zone, preferred light and type of soil, the area(s) the plant is native to, height, width, uses, and (my favorite) difficulty of culture. Besides all of those invaluable nuts and bolts, he gives you a feel for each plant- how it behaves, what makes it happy, what makes it covetable. The book is organized somewhat like an encyclopedia, but also includes thoughtful essays on such topics as native vs. invasive plants, the problem with wild collecting, what defines a grass, hardiness, picking and preparing a site for moss, and native grass lawns.
Though I hope to someday put this book to more vast and verdant use, it is coming in handy already. I learned that my beloved Southern Maidenhair Ferns are indeed native (whew!) and got some tips on making them even happier. I discovered the Cliff Brake Fern and am now on the hunt for it, and dream of someday growing Hayscented Fern, which smells like freshly-mown hay. Magic.
MORE INFO & AVAILABLE AT: Native Ferns, Moss, and Grasses on Amazon
Images: Tess Wilson