CANNONTEIGN’S fern garden was host to a National Plant Collection open day on the weekend, as fern curator and pteridological expert Julian Reed showed visitors around the Estate’s historic and unique collection of ferns.
‘It was very successful,’ said Julian, ‘we had people from all over the region come to the fern garden to learn more about this unique collection
‘I was asked to come over to show people around the garden, and I was delighted to do so. It was partly to promote the ferns, I came down to walk through the garden with people to explain the collection that I helped curate.’
The fern garden was created in the mid-1800s when fern gardens were all the craze in Victorian Britain. However, over time, the garden fell into disrepair. Only in 2009, over 100 years later, was the elaborate fernery rediscovered by the estate owner, Kate Baylis.
Now the collections have been uncovered, they are flourishing once again thanks to Canonteign Falls’ unique microclimate and the work of Julian Reed and Canonteign’s gardeners.
Julian added: ‘The area just screamed out for ferns. There are some plants I’m aware of that are only at Canonteign and at Pfizer, that’s the whole point of Plant Heritage, to preserve the past for the future.’
Amy Greenman, chief executive of Canonteign Falls, added: ‘The restoration of the fern garden at Canonteign Falls has been a passion of estate owners Chris and Kate Baylis since they bought the estate.
‘So it felt particularly special to celebrate the accolade of receiving Plant Heritage National Collection status for our fern collections, with a special ‘Fern Day’.
‘Julian Reed, who helped us curate our National Collections of ferns, held talks in the fern garden, which is found in a hanging valley below the base of Lady Exmouth Waterfalls.
‘It was lovely to see so many visitors, members of the British Fern Society and Plant Heritage join us. The day also showcased the great work Plant Heritage is doing to preserve and maintain these special plants for future generations.
‘It was such a success we hope to make this an annual event.’
Dr John Twibell, National Collection Coordinator for Devon (east) said: 'The open day at Canonteign was a great way to showcase the invaluable collaboration between holders of National Plant Collections, the Fern Society, Plant Heritage and Canonteign Falls.
'Having a recently accredited National Plant Collection in a unique environment helps to protect these unusual ferns. A friendly and relaxed tour on a beautiful day allowed visitors to enjoy the array of ferns at their best, whilst learning about their history and how to look after them.'