maidenhair fern in a Texas garden CP

In the afterglow of resurrection celebrations and the bright delight of our Lenten look at “flowers of the field,” I thought we all might be ready to rest in tranquil green leaves. As florists regularly practice, it brings beauty to set dazzling blossoms against a verdant backdrop; it seems King Solomon thought likewise in his lover’s life, reposing romantic passions in soft greenery—

How handsome you are, my beloved! Oh, how charming! And our bed is verdant.
Song of Songs 1:16 NIV

Several botanists and Biblical scholars ascribe the nameless green foliage implied in this Scripture to southern maidenhair fern, Adiantum capillus-veneris, no doubt influenced by H.B. Tristam’s dreamy report from his scouting in the late 1800’s:

“On ascending the Wady Sudeir [at En Gedi, now called Nakhal David] to trace its source, we soon came upon a fairy grotto of vast size under a trickling waterfall, with a great flat ledge of rock overhanging it, dripping with stalactites, and draped with maidenhair fern. Its luxuriance was wonderful.”
—H.B. Tristam, The Land of Israel: A Journal of Travels in Palestine, 1865, page 289

I am constantly intrigued by the use of contrast in God’s Word, and to imagine this fragile-looking, dainty green fern amidst the hard-walled, rocky ravine—bordering the greater landscape of the semi-arid, sun-scorched Judean wilderness—is a ravishing glimpse for a gardener’s heart.

A Hardy Fern

However, I should not be too astonished at Tristam’s discovery, for a sister species of this delicate-looking fern has proved extremely hardy in our Zone 8 garden, returning this spring after winter temperatures hit a record-challenging low of 13°. Additionally, the mircoclimate where it is planted in our yard may have increased the freezing impact, as the morning-shade exposure prevented sun’s radiant warming for most of the day. All this weighing against the typical heat-horrible summer the plant endures! Hallelujah, the graceful green leaflets have revived, lush as ever.

Let us be inspired to praise of our Savior’s revival, his holy sacrifice our source of unending forgiveness, supplying a steady stream of God’s unfailing love.

You, Lord, showed favor to your land; you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
You forgave the iniquity of your people and covered all their sins. Selah.
You set aside all your wrath and turned from your fierce anger.
Restore us again, God our Savior, and put away your displeasure toward us…
Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?
Show us your unfailing love, Lord, and grant us your salvation.
Psalm 85:1-7 NIV

Why not help us make a fresh start—a resurrection life? Then your people will laugh and sing!
Show us how much you love us, God! Give us the salvation we need!
Psalm 85:6-7 The Message

Since we are now joined to Christ, we have been given the treasures of redemption by his blood—the total cancellation of our sins—all because of the cascading riches of his grace.
Ephesians 1:7 The Passion Translation

NIV God's Word for Gardeners Bible with daily essays on the plants, landscapes, and garden metaphors in the Bible


For more on maidenhair fern in the Bible, see “En Gedi, Lay of the Land,” in God’s Word for Gardeners Bible, page 270-72

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For more on growing maidenhair fern, see our Plant Guide:


Photo Credits: ©2018 Shelley S. Cramm  Plant maidenhair fern in your garden and enjoy a resilient supply of foliage for bouquets and floral arrangements, graceful fronds pictured here with ‘bi-color’ crown anemone flowers

Species pictured here are not Adiantum capillus-veneris, but a sister species, perhaps A. pedatum, American maidenhair (I’ve had the plant for years and forgot to save the plant tag!)

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