Lush layers of tree ferns populate the Pacifica garden of Daniel Yansura. Photo: Josh Schechtel
Squeezed between the Pacific Ocean and the coastal mountain range that runs through San Mateo County, Pacifica is located about 20 miles south of San Francisco. With an average rainfall of about 30 inches per year and annual temperatures that range from 45 to 78 degrees, this isn’t a place that brings tropical plants to mind—especially in the summer months when this part of the coast is blanketed in thick fog. Daniel and Patricia Yansura moved to Pacifica in 1983 and Daniel, interested in paleobotany and primitive plants, started collecting and propagating tree ferns there shortly afterwards.
Growing some ferns in USDA Zone 10A (Sunset Zone 17) poses unique problems. While temperate ferns thrive in the fog, cool temperatures, and high humidity, many tropical and semi-tropical plants languish without heat. Through years of experimentation, Daniel has discovered that many tropical tree ferns can adapt to the cooler climate—provided they are acclimated properly.
An immediate challenge to cultivating ferns was a...
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