Sunday, 11 July 2010

When your an addict you just need ONE more

There are palms that thrive in our garden and there are those that don't. It doesn't stop us trying to grow them all though. When we started to create the garden there were no trees at all in the back yard. It meant we could design from scratch. It also meant we needed to create some shade and shelter for the tropical plants we wanted to grow. Palms were therefore initially chosen, quite practically, for their hardiness and ability to grow quickly.
Golden canes - Chrysalidocarpus lutescens - are a mainstay of our garden - along the back fence, around the pool and scattered throughout the garden,

plus a row to create a windbreak or screen near the back of the house. They get frostburn in winter but we just cut those fronds off and they power ahead as soon as the weather warms up.

Alexanders -- Archontophoenix alexandrae and Bangalows -- Archontophoenix cunninghamiana  were the next choice. Some together in small groves, others intermixed with other trees. Once established both grow quickly – These Alex's are only 4 years old.

We planted a stand of 6 Majestics on the opposite side of the garden so we could grow shade-loving gingers beneath them. They eventually grow huge so need to be given plenty of space. These are about 3 ½ years old.
That gave a framework for the garden, so we began to plant other species to give variety and (to be honest) because we'd fall in love with them at the nursery and have to take them home with us.

Carpentaria palms -- Carpentaria acuminata. They’ve done OK but are very thin – probably not in the best of conditions. They are growing in a mound of dirt (not soil) that was formed when the pool was dug. They are native to northern Australia.

Foxtails - Wodyetia bifurcata. They are one of the most beautiful palms. As easy as pie to grow – also they don’t seem to mind being moved. We’d planted two near the side fence and had to move them as our bamboo addiction filled that area. One died but the other has forgiven us and is florishing. Again, they are native to northern Australia. 

Triangle palms - Neodypsis decaryi - grow quite large and deserve to be a feature palm.

Bismark palm -- Bismarkia nobilis. This is definitely a feature palm.

Redneck -- Neodypsis lastelliana - known for its red crownshaft

Lady palms -- Rhapis excelsa. They like a bit of shade or shelter to be watered regularly. In our garden they grow fairly slowly and are an understorey palm but can grow huge in the tropics.

Red Latin -- Latania lontaroides
I planted it to be a feature palm because of the wonderful red-tinged fronds but it’s been a bit slow getting established.

Macarthur Palm -- Ptychosperma macarthurii.
A great clumping palm particularly in a sheltered spot with shade or semi-shade.  I’d like more of them. The books say they need shade when young but will take full sun as they mature. I'm yet to try that out.

Clumping fishtail - Caryota mitis
This guy is just on three years old. We have others that haven’t grown so quickly. It obviously loves this spot near the pool.

Australian Fan Palm - Licuala ramsayi. This palm is definitely a shade lover in our region. In tropical Australia there are whole forests of them just growing naturally, but the humidity and annual rainfall there is much higher of course.

Hawaiian Fan palm - Pritchardia pacifica
When it was young (first two years) the frost knocked it about and burnt the leaves Last year I experimented with “DroughtGuard” which can also be used to protest plants from frost. Not sure if it just toughen up with age or it was the protection from the Droughtguard but last year the frost didn’t hurt it. I'm hoping it survive winter this year as well. I've added a couple more in more sheltered spots to see how they'll go.
Bottle palm -- Hyophorbe lagenicaulis
Not really a happy camper at all. It suffers with the cold every year. The "books" say they are tolerant to light frost and I've seen photos of them growing happily in Sydney gardens but mine seem to hate winter. Each summer it grows beautiful new fronds and has them burnt ever winter when there’s frost. I sprayed this guy with the Droughtguard and it burnt just the same as previous years.
Each year I try to limit myself to added two or three new palms. I have a list a mile long of ones I'd like but the sensible me knows they have to suit our climate and conditions.  There are so many beautiful palms and only limited space in the garden.
Lipstick palm  - Cyrtostachys renda
This is not one of ours. It's in a garden in Cairns. They will only grow in the tropics, but it is the most  spectacular palm I've seen. When I lived in Cairns I has one and it was my pride and joy. I know it would never survive it's first winter here, but I would love to try to grow one. Does that make me an addict?


  1. You do have a fantastic selection of palms girl ... yep I would say a real addict!

    I have a few of the same palms ... lots and lots of Golden Cane ... is there a more easy to grow palm?

    Had one of those fabulous red Lipstick palms in my last garden, but the poor soil here ... or should I say lack of any soil really ... would not be an ideal growing condition for that beauty.

    Great post and some lovely photos.

  2. You do have many types of palms which puts me to shame, haha. I live in a tropical country and I only have 2. Thanks to this post of yours, I just found the name of my 2 types palms. Now I know that I have 3 Lipstick palms and a Hawaiian fan palm. I also have palm orchids, Spathoglottis.

  3. Your garden looks very pretty and lush! When I see palms, I think vacation.
    Our new puppy looks a lot like your dog. Ours is a yorkie, cairn mix. He looks a lot like yours when he takes a bath! :) Lately, he has a lot of baths, which he hates. I think he needs a haircut pretty soon.
    Your tomatoes look very delish!! Mine are starting to split on the vine.

  4. I realize this comment is 2 years too late, but I wanted to say that bottle palms do well here in Sydney cause we don't have frost. The coldest winter gets is usually around 8 degrees. Also, rest assured that the lady palm can grow huge in your garden too - here I have two clumps which are over 2m tall, dense and suckering everywhere.


I would love to know what you think and appreciate your comments.


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