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Wee Yeow Chin - Ferns of the Tropics

The world of tropical ferns is huge. Malaysia alone has over 650 species. Compare that with England, which has only 54 species. This book doesn't try to be comprehensive, but it does cover most ferns that you'd want to grow — and it tells you how to grow them. That's one big difference between this book and books on Hawaiian ferns (i.e. Ferns of Hawaii and Hawaii's Ferns and Fern Allies.) Ferns of the Tropics covers almost 100 ferns in detail with cultivation instructions and crisp color photos. Many fern books have mostly black and white illustrations. Also this book is a perfect size, especially when compared with the gigantic Fern Grower's Manual (over 600 pages.)

Now that I've praised this book, I'd like to praise ferns. They imbue a landscape with a rich, romantic feel. Most are shade lovers and many are epiphytes so it's easy enough to squeeze a few more into your garden. We're all familiar with the Staghorns, Bird's-nests, and Tree Ferns, but how about the Dragon's-scale Fern. It looks more like a lush succulent vine than what we think of as a fern. The Chinese Lace Fern is breathtakingly beautiful. Its finely dissected fronds invite touch — a fine quality in a garden plant.

Timber Press, Portland, Oregan, 800-327-5680, www.timberpress.com, 0-88192-458-X, 190 pages, color drawings and photographs, hardback

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