Thanks to each of you who responded on list or privately to my critique request. I found something of value in each comment and very much appreciate your time and interest.
The probable solution I’ve been mulling over in my head for a few days now is this: create a single large fern image on deep blue fabric which will then be reverse appliquéd to the quilt (a la David Walker) slightly off- center. Then I will add a thin layer batting and another backing to the entire piece. Finally, using vibrant/sparkly threads and machine quilting, bring out the enlarged fern design with the quilting.