In winter, especially in cold and snowy winter, we have to take our garden color however it’s presented. It might be winter flowers, it might be the remains of last year’s foliage or it may be in the slightly unexpected form of fern spores.
Here’s a British native fern (above, click to enlarge) that I spotted growing on a stone garden wall behind the supermarket back home in England on my last trip. It’s the common polypody, Polypodium vulgare – “polypody”, by the way, means “many footed”, that is, it has repeatedly branching rhizomes.
Along the undersides of mature fronds, are these double rows of orange sori, clusters of spore producing organs, and their brightness lifts the spirits on cold, damp and dull day.
As it happens, two related species grow here in Pennsylvania, especially across the tops of huge granite boulders out in the woods. But they’re under 18in/45cm of snow at the moment so I don’t think I’m going to go snap their fronds just yet.