Gifts are always fun. Gardening gifts are the best, and gifts of plants always warm my heart. A living plant is a gift from the heart, and it creates a special bond between giver and receiver as the plant grows on and develops into its potential.
That said, sometimes those gifted plant can get too enthusiastic and create work down the road. But when that happens, I try to dig up those I can’t use and share them with someone else. I love trying new plants I’ve not grown before. Most gardeners I know love expanding their gardening experience by growing out new types of plants.
When California Horticulturalist, Tony Tomeo, who has been corresponding with me for the last several years through our respective blogs, offered to send me some windmill palms, Trachycarpus fortunei, I immediately accepted his kind offer. He told me these were babies, and he assured me that they should grow OK here in coastal Virginia.
I’ve not grown palms before. What a wonderful opportunity to learn something new! I know that they will do well on my sheltered front patio. Since these are slow growing, I can keep them in pots on the patio for the time being, to watch them grow. Once they settle in and grow more roots, I expect to transplant two of these beautiful palms into large pots on either side of my front porch.
Tony wrapped each palm carefully in butcher paper and packaged them so skillfully that they made the trip from California to Virginia in perfect condition. I only hope that I can keep them in the terrific condition they arrived in! He very kindly gave me more information about how to grow them through some emails and has agreed to answer questions as they arise. Plants and mentoring, too!
Windmill palms are hardy to Zone 7 and will grow in many parts of the United States. Originally from Asia, they aren’t as common here on the mid-Atlantic Coast as they are along the Pacific Coast of the United States.
Beautiful, easy to grow plants should be popular wherever they can grow. These are considered trees, and the day will come when I’ll need to find a spot for them in the garden where they can grow properly, without the confinement of a pot.
I appreciate this gift so much. It is funny how many of us remain interested in growing new plants, no matter how many hundreds of different plants we have already. For me, it is endless curiosity about how things grow.
Tony has been writing about wanting to grow our common beautyberry, Callicarpa americana, for a long time now. I started some seeds last fall and have been watching for a good candidate to dig and send to Tony at the proper time. Mailing plants across the country has its own challenges, especially with the weather extremes we’ve had recently.
Tony’s offer of windmill palms motivated me to pull a package together for him now that we have beautiful cool days and nights of early autumn. I had a few seedlings, and included some cuttings that have ripening fruits, with seeds, as well. With his nurseryman’s skill, I’m sure he will generate several good plants from this material. I can’t wait to see his berry covered beautyberry shrubs in a year or two!
Though this is ‘Six’ on Saturday, I want to beg indulgence to include a seventh photo, and another brief story. This time last year, I found a bedraggled Alocasia ‘African Mask’ on the reduced rack at our local Lowe’s. This plant was so far gone it was difficult to even identify the plant in the pot, except by a few dead leaves and a plastic tag. It was marked down to $1. The two pots were worth that whether the plant lived, or not.
Well, Alocasia is a tuber, a geophyte, and has some period of going dormant most years. So, I brought the pot home, fed and watered it, covered the top of the pot in plastic to conserve moisture, and set it in a warm spot in my office. Then I watched it regularly for some sign of new growth to bring it out into brighter light.
And, I waited…..for months. In early summer, I brought the pot outdoors and set it in a shady nursery area. By then, I had no expectations at all. I was ready to recycle the pot as needed. And then this week, as I was watering that area. I noticed something green and shiny! New leaves! Finally, that Alocasia tuber had come back into active growth!
It is a small start, but proof of life. It is moments like these that keep me gardening.
Keep hope alive. Plants just want to live, Gardeners just want to grow things, and miracles unfold all around us.