A Few Lines From Veenendaal
An invitation to Wim Takken's garden in Holland.
W. G. Takken, P.H. v. Rynstraat 60, 3904 Hi Veenendaal, Netherlands
Chamaerops No. 6, published online 23-10-2002
on this article:
Click here to read them or to add your own.
Left: Going Dutch: The author in his garden with
Cycads & Palms.
Right: Dasylirion atrotrichum: Patience rewarded
I am sorry to say, but I've just had it. Reading
all those stories about winter-hardy palms in our countries. Reading
how all around Europe, Trachycarpus fortunei survived temperatures
of minus 14°C. and even less without protection.
Well, the winter of 199091 killed my second Trachy.
Earlier in 1989, I already lost a specimen with a 60cm tall trunk.
This time I thought I had a good position in my garden for a Trachy
with a 30cm trunk - more or less protected from cold north-east
winds by a big Rhododendron, a 2 metre tall clump of Miscanthus
grass and a 5 metre tall clump of Phyllostachys (Bamboo).
As Wilko Karmelk already wrote in this magazine,
temperatures in Holland fell to about - I 4"C. As a result,
the leaves of my Trachy were heavily burned and last summer I could
just pull out the centre spear - the growing point had rotted away.
I don't know why my efforts remain without success.
Maybe it is the place in Holland where I live, a valley in the east
of the province of Utrecht. My experiments with palms in the ground
in my garden have come to an end, but maybe someday when the wounds
are healed, I will try again. But I'll make certain that I give
them greater winter protection.
In the October issue, you asked for information
a bout Tree Ferns. Indeed, I have experience in growing them as
container plants. I still have a Blechnum nudum with a 1 metre tall
black trunk and a Blechnum brasiliense with a 30cm tall stem
Until two years ago, I also had three other tree
ferns - a Dicksonia with 60cm fronds and a 2-metre trunk, and another
with much bigger fronds also on a 2-metre trunk. Also I had a Dicksonia
Two years ago, I sold them because they didn't combine
well with my citrus trees. Keeping the ferns moist caused fungi
on the citrus trees, so, forced by the knowledge that my wife would
kill me if I sold the citrus trees, I made a choice in their favour.
By the way, lack of space in the greenhouse was a further factor
in my choice.
My experience with Tree Ferns, kept as container
plants in my garden during frost-free periods was very good. Giving
them a shady position and keeping their trunks moist ensures very
beautiful plants that combine well with palms, cycads and cordylines,
etc. Convenient is the fact that Tree Ferns can be grown in small
Another interesting group of container plants I
keep are the cycads. Growing these beautiful plants requires a lot
of patience. Growth is rather slow and sometimes they show no growth
at all for a long period. I once had a Cycas revoluta, which had
lost all its leaves. For 5 years, every spring I took the plant
out of its container, checked that the roots were in good shape
and put it back in the container. Finally, after 5 years, the plant
rewarded my patience with a new set of leaves and it is still going
Last summer, another Cycas revoluta with a 60cm
stem made a new crown with no less than 28 leaves. It is a great
thing to see how such a pack of new leaves develops and it makes
you forget all the difficulties in handling these heavy plants.
When cycads grow new leaves, I bring them back into
the greenhouse. I do this after a cycad with emerging new leaves
was attacked by earwigs that ate some of the new and still soft
leaflets. These newly emerging leaves are very vulnerable - heavy
rains and hail may cause serious damage too.
Finally, I have to report something special. Since
1983, I've had a Dasylirion atrotrichum. It is a plant from the
southern part of the USA with a crown of narrow leaves that are
fiercely armed. From a distance, it looks like a Yucca or a Cordyline.
In August last year, I noticed a strange kind of growth in the centre
of the plant. This had a different colour. One day, I suddenly realised
that my plant was coming into bloom! A big Yucca-like flowerstalk
was emerging from the heart of the plant. I had never seen this
before, not even in botanical gardens over here. The flowerstalk
reached a height of 150cm, but, because October was already on the
calendar, the flowers didn't develop fully. Nevertheless, I have
seen a few small Mimosa-like flowerballs. I now have to wait and
see if the plant is strong enough to take up normal vegetative growth
or if it dies.
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