Growing chives and soft shield fern in your garden can lead to wonderful things

These blooming garlic/Asian chives are coming into their own.


First up in my garden! Chives seem undeterred by low temperatures and snow. Though this photo is not spectacular it shows a couple of garlic/Asian chive plants and the un-garlic regular kind.

Chives volunteer enthusiastically all over the place if one is not a big weeder, and generous snips of them in salads or to garnish steamed asparagus or on scrambled eggs are pretty wonderful after eating wintery food.

The best way to start chives is really to get a division (piece) from a gardening friend or neighbour and plunk it in the ground or into a pot. You can start them from seed too, but wait until the weather warms a bit. Though adult plants love cool weather, seeds prefer a little heat.

A taste of vinegar

Chive blossoms are beautiful and attractive to beneficial insects – and you can make a tasty vinegar from them too, which is tinged pink.

Soft shield or soft needle fern

Soft shield fern is tougher than it looks. This handsome fern’s proper name is Polystichum setiferum ‘Herrenhausen’, with the common name of soft shield or soft needle fern. Though it looks soft and a little tender it is super hardy, behaving like an evergreen here in Kitsilano.

In early spring, the crocus have a habit of stretching up through the fronds to bloom, creating a nice vignette in my side-of-the-house garden.