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Credit: Heritage Perennials

While the fern's silver-grey fronds, with undertones of red and steel blue, add their own touch of drama to the garden, it is also a great companion plant for other shade-lovers.

The Japanese painted fern cheers up many low-light corners of the garden, along with that stalwart of the shade beds, the hosta. And its finely serrated fronds make an interesting contrast against the big leaves of Brunnera cultivars such as B. 'Jack Frost.' This zone-4 fern is also a visual benefit to plants with low-growing habits, such as Lamium maculatum 'Pink Pewter.'