I confess I haven't been tending to my garden duties as diligently as I should but that's for a good cause. Two weeks ago my son and daughter-in-law, who work in the local health system, asked if I would be willing to sew them masks and hats to wear at work. Homemade PPEs aren't certified against coronavirus but hospitals and medical staff around here are desperate for any protection. How could I refuse? So, I dusted off my mother's 70-year-old plus Singer Featherweight sewing machine and my 30-year-old serger, obtained patterns and fabric and went to work. Visual impairment doesn't make sewing easy but I've managed to churn out enough masks and hats to make my children ecstatic. But all that stitching meant I haven't been able to weed, repot or take new photos.
But being quarantined in the house means I have time to dig through all the photos I've taken in the 12+ years I've been with IPS and PalmTalk. That blast from the past goes all the way back to April 2008 after I joined PalmTalk (in Jan.) then attended my first Extravaganza at Jeff Searle's palm garden of Eden circa April. I had forgotten how bare my yard was back then. And that the palms I eagerly bought were destined to be wiped out in the winter(s) of 2010. Still, they live on in photos.
My Caribbean Garden in front of the house was most developed at that time. We received sewer service in 2006 but before that the holding tank prevented a lot of digging and planting.
View of Caribbean Garden looking west.
I had planted several Coccothrinax spissa and sp seedlings away from the holding tank around 2006.
My first success at seed germination: Sabal palmetto I found down the street.
I decided to turn my south-facing, waterfront back yard into a jungle (which would be mostly destroyed in the winters of 2010). I already had a ready-made canopy for tropical palm seedlings in the form of 7 large queen palms planted overlooking the Isabelle Canal by a local nursery in 1993 - queens were the landscape-palms-de-rigueur during the 90s). But they served their purpose until fusarium wilt wiped them out in 2014/2015.
Bench planter with Chamaedorea cataractarum
Areca concinna - one of my all time favorite palms since I bought this one from Jeff Searle in 2008. I babied it for nearly two years until it met its Waterloo in the record freeze of Jan. 2010 even though we tried all means of protection to save it.
Areca concinna and queens
Areca concinna and me
Finally, a photo of the newbie me peppering Jeff Searle with palm questions in 2008. He will likely never forgive me.
My palms going into winter look their best so far this year. Today on Christmas Eve I took the following photos to look back on when spring reveals what winter has in store. Best always to all and their palms.
Areca catechu normal
The sun is still ferocious and days usually sweltering but north and east breezes carry a whiff of cooler, drier days on the horizon. Another 4-5 weeks and the rainy season spigot abruptly shuts off. I do most of my yard work in the fall, winter and early spring trying to catch up with growth in overdrive from summer. Yesterday I decided to make a photo update of my tropical container garden on the back lanai. Last month I did battle with a mealybug infestation on some of my Chamaedoreas using two spray bottles of insecticidal soap and imidicloprid drench. Yesterday I found scale starting to invade - more insecticidal soap. Come early Nov. I will proactively go after spider mites with one of my two miticides. Right now all my uber tropical potted palms are at their peak glory.
Among the palms featured below are two that have lost their tags and need an expert ID. Please help me find out who they are.
First Photo: a view of the length of the lanai looking east. I keep the birdcage covered with two layers of commercial grade shadecloth to protect the palms inside.
One palm in particular inspired this photo essay: Pinanga cochinchinensis. I've had a checkered history with Pinangas. I love them but so often they cling to life for me, then give up and die. I'm so delighted this handsome clumper has hung in and actually grew to about 6' tall. I recently moved it to a larger pot because the wind kept blowing it over.
Areca catechu Dwarf - This is my oldest surviving dwarf Areca and the only large one kept on the lanai. The rest stay outdoors.
Johannesteijsmannia altifrons - my larger of two. Both have done well for me. I have repotted them once with great trepidation because they are quite root sensitive but they took the disruption in stride. I've had no luck growing any of the other Joey species.
The genus Dypsis has scores of species. Many, but not all, prefer the mediterranean climate in CA, as opposed to the sweltering heat of FL. I am currently trying the following species in pots:
Dypsis mirabilis - I've had this colorful little palm for almost a year. It will go through its second winter here soon.
Dypsis psammophila - A slender, gracile clumper related to the larger commoner D. lutescens
Dypsis prestoniana - My tentative introduction to the large to huge species that often grow like snails and keel over when faced with the heat of the day and night
Got to take a break now. More photos soon. Thanks for looking.
One sweltering day this past week I realized I hadn't posted any new photos since the spring. And everyone loves photos, right? So, I got to thinking about one of my favorite genera: Areca. This notoriously cold sensitive genus hails from tropical Asia and I would love to have a garden of dozens of species. But most of them of them can't survive in my climate, which breaks my heart. However, I've managed a scant few successes. Most of those are Areca catechu semi-dwarfs and dwarfs, some which I germinated myself. For some reason, the dwarfs are marginally cold hardier than the normal variety, which is rated a zone 11. I've decided to do a photo essay on the incarnations of Areca catechu.
Areca catechu normal: In habitat this variety can reach 100' tall. I grew this palm from seeds, planted it last fall at the edge of my jungle just above the canal. It survived winter and is growing quickly in the heat. Note the long, thin stem, petioles and spaced out leaflets - no signs of stunting or rigid, scrunched leaves.
Areca catechu semi-dwarf: Dwarfism in A. catechu occurs along a spectrum. The semi-dwarf shows subdued traits, including shortened stems and petioles and some scrunching of the leaves. I bought the palm in the following photos as a dwarf but understood it would never show extreme dwarfism. And the price was right. Was I lied to? That's in the eye of the beholder. It's a handsome palm anyway. The stem is chunkier, the leaves somewhat scrunched and petioles only 4-6" long. It stands 5-6' tall, excluding pot.
Areca catechu semi-dwarf #2: I germinated this palm from semi-dwarf seeds I received from Scott Zona
Areca catechu dwarf: I've owned this palm for a number of years. It is in a very large pot on a wheeled dolly set on my back lanai. If temps fall below 45F I wheel it indoors along with my other uber tropicals. The gold ring for A.c. extreme dwarfism is a total lack of a petiole. Those specimens are very rare indeed and I am still looking. The palm in the following has petioles 1/2" to 1" long, so it is close. It lives under shadecloth, which might be causing the minimal petioles. Dwarfs grown in sun have shorter petioles while those in shade "stretch out."
This afternoon I was doing a periodic checkup on my container garden on the back lanai and decided to pull out a few seedlings for photos. Some I bought, others I germinated. Happy Holidays and enjoy.
Verschaffeltia splendida - I have four left out of 10 I germinated from seeds I got from Thailand. I'm hoping at least one survives until spring.
Areca catechu Dwarf - I germinated this seedling that shows promising form.
Lanonia magalonii - from Jeff Marcus
Hydriastele beguinii "Obi Isle" - bought at Palm Beach sale
Areca guppyana - I'm a sucker for Arecas and they keep breaking my heart. Bought at Palm Beach sale
Pinanga bicolana - one of the most colorful Pinangas around. Seed from RPS germinated easily but not as easy to keep alive. Well worth trying.
Rhopaloblaste augusta - germinated from seeds I got from Thailand. Two seedlings remain. Gets large and is cold sensitive.
Adonidia merrillii variegata - very nice variegated specimen of an otherwise common-as-dirt palm. From Jeff Marcus
Heterospathe califrons - very rare new species that is hanging in there for me so far. Doesn't look like much now but just wait. From Jeff Marcus