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Oasis Update

You'll remember Paul's earlier 'Sparkling Oasis'. In this follow-up we hear what's been happening to the garden since then.
Paul Newman, Oasis Garden Services, 16 Alexandra Road, St. Albans, Herts
Chamaerops No.22, Spring Edition 1996

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Photo: Oasis Garden in two views, with jungle hut

Since my last article, 'Sparkling Oasis' (Chamaerops, Autumn 1994) I thought it would be a good idea to update E. P. S. members on how the garden is progressing.

During the winter of 94/95 the two Agave americana were protected using home made cloches with strong wire support frames . These were overlaid with thick gauge polythene and held in place with wire ties. These proved to work very well and kept the plants dry. The main problem with Agaves in winter is dampness which when combined with frost and ice causes rotten brown patches on the leaves. As a safeguard the Jelly Palm (Butia capitata) was also given minimum protection in the form of fleece wrapped around the crown and the new spear of the plant; a fine net was also draped over the whole palm.

New additions to the garden planted in spring '95 include a 4m Araucaria araucana (Monkey Puzzle Tree), a multi-headed, branching Cordyline australis, and two Tetrapanax papyriferus (Chinese Rice paper plant). The growth of these plants has proved to be extremely vigorous with each new soft velvety leaf emerging much larger than the previous one . Although the leaves are large (some with a 2' span) they are quite delicate and could easily tear in a strong wind, so a sheltered planting site is preferable.

Further plantings around the pool include Zantedeschia aethiopica (the white flowered Arum lily), Scirpus zebrinus, a nice green-andwhite striped rush, and Equisetum heymale. This strange looking plant has dark green, hollow stems with ringed, tapered segments giving the appearance of bamboo. Also planted (in a container) was Thalia dealbata, another nice aquatic plant. The leaves of this exotic-looking plant are a glaucous, powdery blue-green, held on long upright stems. They have a similar appearance to the well known Strelitzia reginae, but of shorter build.

Large Oriental glazed urns provide exotic interest on the patio and were planted up with Pittosporum tobira, Eriobotrya japonica (the Loquat) and Arbutus andrachnoides, a hybrid Strawberry tree. This has beautiful orange-andtan flaking bark. Also various citrus bushes which have the most divine perfume when in flower and the slightest breeze can waft it around the garden giving 'exoticness' a new dimension.

To add to all this, an Indonesian style bamboo hut has been constructed over the pond filtration system. It was built using traditional skills and techniques, without the use of any screws, brackets etc. The framework is constructed from 8" diameter bamboo uprights with interlocking cross beams. These and the numerous roof trusses are all held in place with wooden dowels and twine, each individual piece of bamboo being drilled and the hole plugged with a tapered dowel to ensure a secure fixing. In south east Asia these huts would be thatched with palm fronds to give a dense, waterproof roof, but due to the shortage of these particular items (for obvious reasons!) it was thatched in separate tapering sections using Norfolk sedge.

Even on the hottest summer's day, this 'Jungle hut' seems to maintain a cool temperature and is the ideal place to relax and listen to the waterfall. With the now dense grove of Phyllostachys nigra swaying in the gentle breeze and the delicate sound of wind chimes one feels transported to a tropical isle!

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