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The Woodland Appeal of the Western Sword Fern
Michalis 'BIG Mike' Kotzakolios

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Nothing says "woodland charm" in quite the same way as the rich green fronds of the Western Sword Fern. It grows wild along the northern Pacific Coast, but it graces the casual garden with delicacy and aplomb. Any cool, shady area with good moisture is an ideal spot for this northwestern beauty.

The sword fern is a hardy plant, able to withstand harsh northern weather and even occasional dry spells, although it will never do really well unless it gets plenty of moisture. It likes light shade best, although it can take deeper shade. Avoid direct sunlight; the sword fern is a shy plant, and prefers to be tucked into a shady corner of the garden.

With fronds sometimes growing over two feet long, sometimes closer to three feet long, the sword is easily one of the largest non-deciduous ferns. No doubt about it, the sword fern is a big plant; make sure to plant it where it will have plenty of room to grow and expand.

They prefer slightly acidic soil, well-drained but moist, and the fronds remain green and attractive all winter. Some people still recommend cutting back the fronds in late winter, but it isn't necessary. In fact, the fern may actually be healthier if the old fronds are left to protect the new ones.

The sword is completely deer-proof; in fact, there are few animals who will eat it. Those that do, such as the mountain beaver, are rarely found near human habition. Of smaller pests, such as insects, your worst enemies will be slugs and snails. Leaving the older fronds on the clump can help keep slugs and snails off of the tender new growth in the center; the fern is its own best protection.

With so many things in its favor, the sword fern is certainly worth considering for any northwestern garden.

BIG Mike is a well known author, developer and Adsense expert as well as the owner of Niche Maniacs - a unique Adsense Marketing System designed to build long-term passive income streams from Adsense, Amazon, YPN, Chitika and other PPC services.

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