Part 2 of Tony Kings Trip to New Zealand where
he meets other palm enthusiasts and visits their wonderful gardens. by Tony King, 34 Keats Ave., Romford, Essex,
RM3 7AR, UK TKing27@compuserve.com Chamaerops No.28 Autumn 1997
Issue 26 of Chamaerops carried the first part of
my article covering my visit to New Zealand during their late summer
in February 1997, focusing upon a number of spectacular native plants
encountered in habitat whilst travelling around a small fraction
of the North Island.
With a benevolent climate that favours the growth
of so many different plants it is not surprising that a number of
wonderful gardens have been created. In this, the final part of
my article, I would like to share with you some of these gardens
and notable plants within them that I found of particular interest.
Although frosts would occur in most, if not all,
of these gardens, the types of plants growing in them, would indicate
that these would be of short duration and not especially severe.
That said, winter is a time of wet, very windy and cool weather
and any plants must therefore be able to cope with this prolonged
and testing period. I am sure that many of the plants that follow
would be worth cultivating outdoors in much of the milder parts
of Europe, especially Portugal, Northern Spain, Corsica, Southern
Italy and even the Western coast of France, Ireland and the UK.
I should start in the garden of my host Keith Boyer,
in the ranges to the West of Auckland. This is part of the water
catchment area for the city itself, and is wetter than the great
city just below it. Often, the ranges would be shrouded in low cloud
or mist when viewed from a clear downtown Auckland.
Keith's garden is on a slope that catches the sun
for a large part of the day. Several terraces have been formed and
the garden contains areas of differing character. Keith's long interest
in cultivating plants and trying new species is especially reflected
by the maturity of a number of palms grown from seed some years
ago. A notable example is a fine Archontophoenix Purpurea, perhaps
the largest in New Zealand, that had just shed an old leaf to reveal
the remarkable purple crownshaft below, a colour that improved as
the days passed. The strict laws governing the importation of plant
material and a nursery industry just waking to the potential of
exotic plants result in enthusiasts raising and exchanging their
own plants from seed. Spares can then be exchanged or sold through
societies and between collectors.
In an especially interesting area of the garden
a rainforest has been created, with well defined layers of plants
with a canopy, dominated by a number of Syagrus, a 'middle' strata
that includes Temperate Heliconia's and Climbing Philodendron's
to a ground flora of Stromanthe, Hedychium and ferns amongst many
other plants. The Syagrus Romansoffianum are interesting in that
they represent two forms. The loveliest of which bears a thick trunk
and sprouts fronds composed of large, tough leaflets and has a generally
stocky appearance. The other develops a thinner trunk and has a
lighter, finer crown of fronds. The two types are distinguishable
from an early stage.