Scattered among the acres of lawn are individuals
and group plantings of palms you will be familiar with. Most species
of Phoenix are grouped together in one gene-crunching, traithomogenising
mess. Both green and silver-blue versions of Butia capitata are
on show - are they really the same species? When planted close to
one another, they certainly don't look it. Trachycarpus is not happy
here - they all tend to look as though dynamite has been used nearby.
Newsflash: 4°C and 10% humidity are not conducive to Trachycarpus'
well-being. The two versions of Jubaea chilensis are to be seen
in' Melbourne: the one with purely erect leaves - like a Rhopalostylis
sapida on steroids - and the more common, spreading variety. Does
anyone know why these dramatic differences occur? Is it geographical?
Does one type beget the same type? I'd like to know. The Jubaeas
are amazing - monoliths with leaves on top, and I applaud anybody
who plants one because 90 years on, they stand as impressive as
the Himalayas, except that at 2-3cm per year, I think the mountain
range is growing faster.
Due to the domination of our palm industry by Queensland,
where Jubaeas will not grow, they are unavailable commercially.
Because seed collecting in the gardens is strictly forbidden it
was extremely fortuitous that I happened to be walking past the
perimeter fence when some particularly ripe fruit dislodged in a
freak gust of wind, ricocheted off a Japanese tourist's camcorder
and bounced over the fence, when I took a slip's catch with a propagating
box. Coincidence. It has germinated; producing two leaves in rapid
succession before, on realizing it was a Jubaea, lapsing into a