Casa Amazonia

Wow! The kind of exotic garden that most if us would kill for! Nice pics!
Buethemann Fredy, Casa Amazonia, Via Righetto, CH 6992 Cimo/Ti, Switzerland
Chamaerops No.33 Winter 1999

Left: An invitation to 'Casa Amazonica'
Right: Beautiful Dicksonia antarctica grace the grounds of Casa Amazonica

Who has up to now not been disappointed to meet always the same two or three species of palms while being on vacations in the south? As I've been impressed by the beauty of palms for twenty years now, I built an interesting house with a separate holiday flat. It is situated on a sunny hillside in the Tessin in southern Switzerland, with a view onto the sea and the mountains.

I have built a botanical garden of almost 1200 sq.m., where I grow various palms, cycads and treeferns. On a mossy patch in the shade of the house grow magnificent examples of Dicksonia antarctica. For the winter I build a perfect protection made of wood and foil so that the fronds of the ferns won't get killed by the frost. With this care the leaves grow up to two meters in length and often they're not less then forty in number.

I invented a way to fulfill the wish of many palmlovers to own a coconut-palm like the ones in the holiday-brochures. I planted a naturally slightly bent-growing Trachycarpus fortunei almost horizontally into a heap of soil. As Trachycarpus immediately starts to grow vertically, even if planted in horizontally, it's necessary to uncover the upper half of the roots every three to four years and cautiously press down the trunk. In this way only half of the roots will get partly damaged. I remove the fibres on the trunk by using a carpet knife. Being treated so, a 'normal' Trachycarpus fortunei will take on an altogether different, exotic look.

Because only healthy and robust palms are beautiful, I never risk the minimum temperature tolerated. The best experience I made with planting the palms outside at sheltered sites, fertilizing them in the right way and giving them a protection against the winter including the possibility for heating. (Bad winters will always come again!) In this way I brought up some beautiful examples to look at: - A Washingtonia filifera close to the southern wall of the house has a trunk with a diameter of 80 centimetres and a height of 4,5 meters. - A five metre tall Butia strictor with ripe fruit - Magnificent Braheas with white-bluish fronds are to be seen from afar - It is particularily difficult to protect a Syagrus romanzoffiana with a height of five meters - a Phoenix canariensis grows from a ten centimetre hole in the wall. Although it has a gigantic crown and is regularily in blossom. - Three groups of Rhapidophyllum hystrix hide their seeds in the needles. - I acclimatized some 20 year old plants from aged Jubaeas in the surroundings. Rhapis, too, grow in various places thanks to dry soil and winter protection. - To admire are also various Trachycarpus wagnerianus, T. martianus, T. nanus, T. takil, Livistona chinensis, L. rigida (1,7 m), Serenoa, Thrinax, Cycas and so on.

Some years ago I bought a Book of Palms by Jacques Deleuze "Palmiers pour le climat Me diterrane en". I found the information that Martin Gibbons and Tobias Spanner will publish a monograph on the 8 different species of Trachycarpus It is interesting to notice that most people of the northern countries start their trials in their gardens with T. fortunei.

I built on a well-protected wall a sort of a greenhouse to improve the growth of the recently discovered Trachycarpus species. "Potplanting" gave good results. The smallest and youngest are Thailand's Mount Doi Chiang Dao T. oreophilus They are followed by Sikkim's Trachycarpus latisectus that are in a very good condition. Their first leaves are well developed and reached the adult morphology. As I have never been able to observe adult T. latisectus and T. oreophilus neither in pictures nor in nature, I am very interested in their growth patterns. Since the publishing (1995) of the above book. I got no further information on T. princeps and have not been able to find any seed of this specie. Who can help me on this? My dream is to get all 8 Trachycarpus species in adult stage and to grow their seeds.

Along the street, in an area of about 15 by 4 metres grows a thicket of Musa basjoo with lots of shoots of small bananas (without winter protection) - Inside the house, beside the pond of our 19 year old crocodile, blossom six metre tall Chrysalidocarpus Some of the Caryotas, too, reach a height of six meter near the ceiling. Whoever is interested is welcome to visit us. We speak German, French and Italian. And Crocodile.


  02-02-23 - 11:34GMT
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'Palmen in Mitteleuropa'
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This german book tells you all about how to cultivate your palms in Central Europe. more...