Curator: Ann Milovsoroff
The Marchen T. Skinner Fern Collection was transported from Dorset Hollow, Vermont to the UVM Horticultural Research Center in South Burlington, Vermont by Dr. David Barrington in 1997. Single specimens of these woodland fern varieties were installed in their appropriate habitat and labeled by Dr. Barrington. Five years later, in 2002, Dr. Barrington; Nancy Simson, fern curator of the "Friends of the Horticulture Farm"; and Mary Mazur, perennial curator, organized a group to develop the collection for display and teaching.
A large limestone rock was moved into place at the site in early May 2004 for the purpose of growing ferns such as maidenhair spleenwort, walking fern and wall rue. The rock is also home to a memorial plaque remembering Marchen T. Skinner, donated by her family.
All the ferns in our collection have underground stems called rhizomes, from which leaves are produced above ground. All of these ferns produce minute spores in spore capsules, some underneath the leaves and some in clusters on other parts of the plant.
The Skinner garden is unusual in having a number of woodfern hybrids, which were of particular interest to Marchen. These are sterile plants originating through breeding between different species. If you are new to ferns, you may want to concentrate on the non-hybrids to try to get an idea of the basic species, then come back to the hybrids.