Exotics in a Windy Seaside Garden

(page 3)

The first frost (-3øC) arrived late October, followed by much of November being frost-free. December was much the same, but then followed a short period at the start of January with powerful storms (with gales up to 90mph) causing damage and also some flooding in places. I was thankful that the pessimistic construction of a windbreak around the C. radicalis proved to be a good idea. The record high temperatures that followed weren't enough to start the banana growing again, as it had been adversely affected by its winter protection, resulting yet again in death of the plant above ground level. Overall quite a mild winter, the lowest temperature recorded here was -4øC on the 2nd February. Sadly, this summer, as many of you know, wasn't easy to tell from a mild autumn. I was concerned that the banana may have been finally beaten by our weather, until in early July a small shoot appeared which restored hope. A nice plant proceeded to grow, until we were again hit by strong winds. I was horrified to find the small banana plant had just snapped in half. I was then informed that I should place a large jar or something over the left-over stump and keep my fingers crossed. I did just that and soon the banana started growing again. I was shocked at how tough this plant seems to be, it is constantly suffering from the winds and cold weather yet still struggles on regardless. All my other plants are still fine and that M. basjoo is now growing at a rapid rate. I have also planted out my T. wagnerianus and large Chamaerops this summer. My other Chamaerops, the blue form, has been repotted and has grown faster than I could have believed. I might also mention that I bought a Musella lasiocarpa from the Palm Centre two years ago too. I thought it was an extremely attractive plant and was desperate to see it in the garden. So I also put that through trials, but I was sad to find it had no future as a garden plant here. It sat outside in partial shade through the summer but as soon as the first few frosts came, the leaves started to die off. I cut these off and left a pointed green stump. This was brought indoors to a warmer place but deteriorated and eventually started to rot.

Well, that's my account of what has been happening palm-wise in my back garden for the last few years. The south-facing front garden has yet to be conquered but as it stands I intend to provide some hope to those living close to the sea, that Tamarisk and fir trees aren't the only trees or shrubs you should try. Still it does involve some pressure on the palms as they are of course less than ideal situations for them to grow. My theory had mainly been with the idea that sea-side gardens are generally quite mild and frost-free which, as a comparison done with a more-inland garden nearby has shown, is quite true. My next two plants to be tried are hopefully going to be Butia capitata and Caryota 'himalaya', with high hopes for the survival of the Butia at least.

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