Save the Oblong Fern

The oblong woodsia known as Woodsia ilvensis is the rarest fern in Britain and in danger of extinction. Over collected by the Victorians in the nineteenth century and affected by climate change, this beautiful plant can now be found in only three sites across Scotland. 

Luckliy, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is researching the genetic diversity of the fern with a hope to better understand and conserve the species. Nadia Russell who is currently studying the oblong woodsia kindly explained to me the problems the plant is facing. Warmer wetter winters and colder springs with sudden temperature fluctuations have led to confusion for the spores which abort reproduction. 

At the RBGE Herbarium, I was able to view pressed specimens of the plant, many of which were mounted on pale eggshell blue card with the fern itself a dark orange. This combination of colours was so inspiring, I decided to create a design based not on the live fresh bright green plant, but on these pressed examples from 1856 to 1871.

The design shows the fern fronds as a cross, with oblong shapes in between. In one set of spaces there are four oblongs but in others there is only one oblong. This represents the plant’s decline. 

The outer fabric of the project bags has been machine knit using Jamieson’s of Shetland Spindrift wool in Cloud and Paprika. The lining fabric is from Fabric Focus in Edinburgh. 

To help continue their conservation  work, 10% of the sale price of all bags will be donated to the RBGE.

Plant images reproduced by kind permission of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.

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