2004 Perennial Plant of the Year! One of the most colorful ferns for the garden, the Japanese Painted Fern has silvery-grey fronds which are dusty purple towards the center. They are set off by the purplish-red veins and stems. This fern has a low and mounding habit, slowly spreading by rhizomes to form dense colonies. The fronds are positioned in a way that creates a horizontal layering effect much like you see in Dogwood trees.