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Polystichum munitum (Western Sword Fern)

This is a fern worth gushing about. Given ideal conditions (see below) this is a huge (6ft tall x 5ft across) evergreen rosette AND it’s easy to grow. My first encounter with this wonderful plant was at Brockhole in Windermere – the Lake District visitor centre and gardens. The Lake District is mild and wet – just what they like for maximum growth. It was huge. The slow train through the Cascade Range to Vancouver was a wonderful opportunity to observe how and where they grow. Mile after mile of tightly packed ferns in some of the lighter glades in the forest, provided by the railway line. This was in early January and they looked as good as in mid-summer. Another plant that has a huge geographical distribution (right down to parts of Mexico) that often gives an indication of how relatively easy they will be to grow in your garden.

If you have a new house and a new garden (especially in an area where clay predominates), the chances are that your garden has been ‘re-profiled’ by the developers : clay compacted by heavy machinery, then covered in a few inches of topsoil. The process of turning this into a garden will be gradual and largely accomplished by your addition of organic mulch, the bacteria that breakdown the mulch and the worms that assimilate the broken down mulch into the ground. This is a part of the process of creating soil. If this is the starting point, there are lots of things that will establish and begin the process but unfortunately, ferns are not one of them. Either grow them in a pot or wait for a few years. Ferns are fuss pots and will only grow in good friable, well drained soil with lots of organic content.

Propagated by us from spores.

Hardiness traffic light green

Hardiness level Green

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Hardy anywhere in Britain below approximately 1000ft (300m)

This is only meant as a guide. Please remember we're always on hand to give advice about plants and their frost hardiness.

Please remember that these coloured labels are only a rough guide.

General Point about Plant Hardiness: The commonly held belief that it's better to 'plant small' is perfectly true with herbaceous plants, but not necessarily true with woody plants. They need some 'wood' on them to survive severe cold - so plants of marginal hardiness in very cold areas should really be planted LARGER, rather than smaller, wherever possible.