The bigger one of this pair of ferns, Polystichum munitum (Western Sword Fern) to the left, is of great age, and seems utterly indestructible. A couple of years ago it had a “trunk” about 2ft above the ground, and its fronds were all over the place and beginning to look dehydrated. We managed to divide it (with spades and an axe) into quarters and then halved each of three of the quarters. The six resulting “eighths” have been planted elsewhere (two of them in my Fernery) and are doing well, catching up fast. The remaining quarter was re-planted here where it had been, but this time with its crown at ground level; the photograph shows how it is today. It is evergreen like almost all the polystichums, and large – its fronds could reach 4-5ft long if it had a lot more water than it gets here (which is almost none). We cut away the old fronds in the spring, those that have become a bit ragged, and it immediately produces new croziers with great vigour. Next year’s fronds will be bigger than these, as it continues to rebuild its strength.
Its totally contrasting neighbour is Cyrtomium falcatum (Japanese Holly Fern), is supposed not to be very hardy, but the fact that it is alive here at all after two relatively hard winters, seems to repudiate that. It is also supposed to be more tolerant of dryness than P. munitum, and yet it does look as though it is a bit anaemic. It is evergreen as well. We shall probably leave it alone now until the spring, and then take off most of these leaves if we can see any tightly furled croziers ready to emerge.