Cycad in Suburbia

(page 2)

So in it went prematurely and when the leaves unfurled it looked great, that was on the Thursday but by the Saturday the weather had changed quite dramatically. The frozen faces and the jacket over my daughter's bridesmaid's dress on the video is a constant reminder.
From being generally mild, polar maritime air swept down the whole country with overnight temperatures close to zero, allied to the aforesaid winds. Within two days, two of the lower set of leaves had turned yellow and one of the upper set was showing early signs of changing colour. I must admit I thought I had killed it after only days in the ground, a fool and his money! would be the cry, hut amazingly the damage stayed as it was and with the two lower leaves removed and one of the upper trimmed hack it still looked very good. I was impressed with its powers of recovery and it spent the rest of the summer settling in.

Of course I did not expect any growth in its first year in the ground, considering the tiny pot the plant had been it, not much more than an inch wider than the stem itself, with a mass of suckers crammed over the sides. I reluctantly cut all but one of these off, hoping the energy would be diverted to the main crown. This process made the plant look neater and did no apparent harm. As a precaution, with its tiny root system I decided to stake it against windrock.

The summer of 94 was average and as autumn progressed I took no chances and put some protection up in readiness for the cold weather as it would be its first winter outdoors (in Britain at least). This took the form of a wigwam made from tall bamboo canes and canvas. The plant had been strapped up again to fit this structure around it with a flap that could be rolled back in mild spells. If memory serves, the winter of 93/94 was an average one but I was still very pleased that it had come through its first seemingly unaffected other than by what I call mechanical damage where the fronds had been bent back some of the leaflets had been harmed and immediately turned dull pale green then brown, I decided never to use this practise again, any future protection would have to cater for its natural spread.

As spring turned to summer (and what a summer I'm sure I need remind no one), the Cycad looked wonderful and whereas I would normally not have expected signs of life at this early stage I became somewhat optimistic. With the weeks and eventually months of glorious warm and sometimes very hot sunshine, keeping it well watered throughout understanding that when in active growth is when they need the most moisture but again I thought it could still have a tiny root system.

By this time I had become an EPS member and thus no longer alone, so to speak. From my earlier research I bad an idea that a few other people were trying out Cycas revoluta, some of whom I was now in touch with. I was greatly encouraged when MG's plant burst into life in August down in London and even more so when Richard Darlow's in his garden further north like my own came to life at the end of August. Alas! mine just sat there apart from the fact that the tiny tuft of furry embryo leafcovers seemed to have swollen from half an inch to maybe one inch but it was hard to tell (a watched pot and all that).

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