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Manalto

New found land

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Manalto

My unpaved driveway goes between the house and a big old live oak. Then there's an empty patch of land roughly 35 ft square. Behind that is a clothesline, and at the back of the property is a row of camellias and banana shrub with a Sabal minor understory. A service lane runs between the houses on my street and the next street over.

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Here's the layout from a second-story window. The property line is between the tall rice paper plants and my neighbor's ramshackle screen house. 

This primo piece of garden patch in the high dappled shade of the live oak (trunk visible at extreme right of photo) has been, up until now, mostly ignored. Infested with weeds, it occasionally got mown to keep it under control, but mostly it just sat there. Part of my hesitation was because I didn't want to get rid of the clothesline. (I'm a throwback; I even open and close my windows - like some weirdo from another century.) That has begun to change, as I have decided to landscape around the clothesline. (I have dark green paint for the posts and dark green clothesline; when it's not being used, it will be nearly invisible.)

So far, I've planted a Sabal causiarum that may one day provide a buffer between my backyard and the neighbor's screen house diagonally across the lane.

Joseph at North Texas Cold Hardy Palms (after a patient consultation) shipped me the Puerto Rican hat Palm and two cycads a debaoensis and a deb/panz hybrid.

IMG_20200629_124536.thumb.jpg.d8f97b6f6e400689c4a7b7067cfeac56.jpg

In this, possibly the most boring photograph ever taken, the only two plants I have put in this space are shown. The C. debaoensis is front and center in a place of high visibility, with the three bricks (TWO new leaves unfurling right now - very exciting!). In the upper right hand corner is a fig (Celeste). (The other cycad is elsewhere on the property.)

Cleaning out the weeds in this area was a labor-intensive undertaking so this morning I planted about half a pound of pinto beans to hold the space, condition the soil and - hopefully - discourage (as many) weeds from repopulating.

Please forgive the long-winded description, but I wanted to give you the lay of the land because I would like to invite your landscaping suggestions for this area. I know I'd like to put a couple of gardenias and maybe a ginger or two here. More palms and cycads are always nice but other species that would thrive in this 8b oak understory are welcome. 

Edited by Manalto
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8B palms

In that dappled light I would for sure try c radicalis and microspadix maybe a lady palm

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DAVEinMB

@Manalto not a palm and might be a little shady for it but maybe a loquat? 

Snapchat-1440587011.jpg

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Manalto
6 hours ago, DAVEinMB said:

@Manalto ...maybe a loquat? 

 

It's a good thought. Plus - this spring I was taking a picture for a friend of a pair of loquats at the church down the street. The pastor came outside and told me to take all I wanted, that they were just going to waste. One had better flavor than the other, so I saved a few seeds...

IMG_20200630_065123.thumb.jpg.249a50d0e9294fb8191a6bf4d02a1086.jpg

Dinky now, but loquat grows pretty fast when young.

The ones at the church get morning sun; half a day (or all-day dappled?) seems to be enough.

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Swolte

Thanks for sharing! I guess, for me, it depends a bit on the rest of the property and how you intend to enjoy it. Unless you want a focal palm specimen or you just like to show off as large a variety of species before you run out of space (I understand.. :p), I'd prefer to 'build' the tropical feel around a space that is also functional! For example, I have a little kid and recently made an adventure hill where she can walk on narrow paths to the top. I'd plant palms and other stuff around it so that in a few years it'll be a real jungle adventure! These choices greatly help me orient what plants I'm choosing. When  it comes to the adventure hill, I planted a Sabal Bermudana because they don't have spines and should be able to survive in Texas. I also wanted a place to sit in the shade so I got myself a nice bench. For that spot, I considered nice smelling mock oranges but perhaps I want to pick loquats from tree while I am reading, etc.... I am planning a spot for a hammock, another for a swing, and perhaps I even have room for a small pond (though reading up on whether the latter is possible for my situation here in Texas). 

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Chester B

In garden design we often talk about rooms.  Maybe have a narrow path that opens up into a small secluded patio area surrounded by lush vegetation.  Start out with quick growing bold perennials like musa basjoo, alocasia, gingers, cannas etc that you can transition (ie remove) as the palms and other foundation plants attain some size.

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Manalto
16 hours ago, Swolte said:

Thanks for sharing! I guess, for me, it depends a bit on the rest of the property and how you intend to enjoy it.

My earlier response to your comment disappeared for some reason. In it, I begged forgiveness for my vague description and lack of strategy. How would you know what to suggest when you don't know the goal? "Building a feel" is a good way of putting it. For some reason, Mobile (I've found this to be true in Savannah and Charleston as well) landscape design does not embrace the tropical flavor; they save that for the beach, used car lots and seedy motels - go figure. Bill Finch, a local garden writer, has a legendary rant out there berating Mobilians for their neglect of palms in general but particularly Sabal palmetto, which is native to the region. 

I have 10 species of palm growing on the property right now. I like the delicacy of Chamaedorea radicalis or C. microspadix for here but but my local palm authority says they don't do well for some reason. I may give one or both a try anyway. There's a schefflera (???panax) that was mentioned on this forum a while back that I'm hoping is zone 8B hardy; that's one to track down.

Chester, the concept of a room is very much in play. I hadn't thought of it as a seating area, more an oversized foyer for the rear (and most frequently used) entrance to the house. The trick (art) is to plan the design so the clothesline (painted dark green with dark green line) is still usable but not conspicuous. (I'm of that particular - and undoubtedly dying - breed of the last century who still air-dries clothes.)

Fragrance is important to greet visitors, so Osmanthus fragrans and gardenia will be part of the mix. The native Alabama azaleas are known for their fragrance and a few deserve a spot here. 

 

Edited by Manalto
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mdsonofthesouth

There is a huge azalea garden near my house that was planted in an understory about 60 or 70 years ago that is quite stunning! Big fan of that plant. There are so many colors from that species and smells accompanying the sights make for a delightful walk in the spring!

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Chester B

Air dried clothes smell the best.  Up until we moved into this place we always had some sort of line or tree to dry things in the summer.

I had no idea Azaleas have a scent.  Azaleas are planted in almost every yard here but no fragrance just psychedelic color in spring.  Must be totally different types up here.

Can you grow jasmine vines there?  Maybe up those poles?

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Manalto
1 hour ago, Chester B said:

 

I had no idea Azaleas have a scent. 

Can you grow jasmine vines there? 

They do! I have experience of the expert hybrids which were developed in England, but they are not suitable for the climate here; they are more well adapted to the Pacific Northwest. Very nice fragrance! A man named Eugene Aromi developed the Aromi hybrids in the late 1960s here in Mobile. Martin Van der Giessen is heir to his research, and sells the deciduous, fragrant azaleas at his nursery. Martin, by the way, is a knowledgeable plantsman who is generous with his knowledge and time. I took a drive out there this morning and got three of this one:web-RH-Aromi-Frontier-Gold-MVG-2011-800x600__1428174522_71_229.1.235-800x400.jpg.c0fcab531fc5370ef237490f6ffb4e7b.jpg

'Frontier Gold'

I don't think of azaleas as having a particularly tropical feel to them, probably because I also associate them with landscapes in New England, but this rich orange shifts that perception. 

Two types of jasmine vine grow well here, as far as I know: Trachelospermum jasminoides (Confederate jasmine) and yellow jasmine (I don't know the species). I have a Confederate jasmine which I am training over an archway on the approach to the back door. With all these scents going on, my guests are going to arrive with a splitting headache!

Edited by Manalto
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Swolte
9 hours ago, Manalto said:

I hadn't thought of it as a seating area, more an oversized foyer for the rear (and most frequently used) entrance to the house. The trick (art) is to plan the design so the clothesline (painted dark green with dark green line) is still usable but not conspicuous. (I'm of that particular - and undoubtedly dying - breed of the last century who still air-dries clothes.)

That clothing line's gotta go! I fear Chester was being too polite. It's hard to unsee and, for me, would ruin the feel of an exotic retreat  (unless you thoroughly enjoy being reminded of laundry chores). 

On a more serious note, the Schefflera delavayi would be worth a shot. I am in 8b as well and so far it's been doing OK (though still quite small). Great you can grow Azaleas as my soil is too crappy for that!

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Manalto
19 minutes ago, Swolte said:

That clothing line's gotta go! 

When you come over for drinks, Steve, you'll come to the front door like a proper guest. We'll then sit out back under the mule palm. You'll never see the frickin' clothesline - how's that? Jeez, have a little faith.  I can make it work.

Do you know a good source for the schefflera?

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Chester B

Ahh deciduous azaleas - those are very uncommon here.  We have some planted by the big water feature in our HOA, but they are all dying??  Looks like some sort of disease, so they may not be good in our climate.

For the Schefflera this is the only source I know of:

http://www.cistus.com/

They are on the mail order list.

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Chester B

3’ tall and over 5’ in diameter. They need space. They get quite a bit bigger, I planted this as a small specimen 2 years ago
 

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Manalto
3 hours ago, Manalto said:

They do! I have experience of the expert hybrids which were developed in England...

I just noticed this. It should say, "I have experience of the Exbury hybrids"

Autocorrect - sheesh!

 

Chester, thanks for the photo and the link!

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Swolte
4 hours ago, Manalto said:

When you come over for drinks, Steve, you'll come to the front door like a proper guest. We'll then sit out back under the mule palm. You'll never see the frickin' clothesline - how's that? Jeez, have a little faith.  I can make it work.

Haha, deal! I've got my Schefflera from Cistus too. They generally have a great selection of plants with some really hard-to-find gems.  Nice pic, Chester!

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Manalto
3 hours ago, Chester B said:

3’ tall and over 5’ in diameter. They need space. They get quite a bit bigger, I planted this as a small specimen 2 years ago
 

05DAB730-5D39-466F-A746-CCC1B97603A8.jpeg

I try to use botanical names wherever possible because this avoids confusion - or so they say.  I I was under the impressionthat Schefflera delavayi vs. Metapanax delavayi was a case of conflicting nomenclature for the same plant, but I guess not. Oops.

Metapanax-delavaryii-1024x768.jpg.4ba9bad2147f1eded116e431014c9e00.jpg

The schefflera is nice, but this is the plant I was looking for (Metapanax). Its delicacy is reminiscent of bamboo or marijuana, which I thought would be nice in combination with the bold-leafed plants neighboring it.

 

Edited by Manalto
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Chester B
16 hours ago, Manalto said:

The schefflera is nice, but this is the plant I was looking for (Metapanax). Its delicacy is reminiscent of bamboo or marijuana, which I thought would be nice in combination with the bold-leafed plants neighboring it.

I have that one too.  Same source - Cistus.  They have listed on mail order as well.  

A similar looking plant although its supposed to be smaller is Pittosporum illicioides var. angustifolia.  This one only grows to around 8'.

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Manalto
2 hours ago, Chester B said:

 

A similar looking plant although its supposed to be smaller is Pittosporum illicioides var. angustifolia.  This one only grows to around 8'.

Thank you again. That pittosporum has nice texture too. Cistus has a cultivar called 'Fine Green'. I spoke to the people there and they said either the pittosporum or the metapanax would do well so I flipped a coin and got the metapanax - plus I'm going to give Chamaedorea radicalis a try. Thank you all for your recommendations! That about does it for the "bones" of the planting area; the rest of the stuff will be perennials and temporary filler until the plantings attain some size.

Edited by Manalto

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Swolte

I got the 'Fine Green' pittosporum not too long ago and its doing well so far. I considered getting the metapanex but I couldn't find a lot of good information on its drought tolerance and/or ability to survive on low water. Has anyone tried Metapanax in Central Texas? They indeed make good companion plants with palms.

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Manalto
1 hour ago, Swolte said:

Has anyone tried Metapanax in Central Texas? 

Maarten Van Der Giessen (with the deciduous azaleas) gave his seal of approval to Metapanax for Mobile, but we get 70" of rain per year here. (Even so, springs can be surprisingly dry.) Information is sparse on this species. Maybe there's more about it in Dan Hinckley's book.

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Swolte

One source that suggests it may be drought tolerant is xeraplants (https://xeraplants.com/plants/metapanax-nothopanax-delavayi/). They (in Portland) have similar annual rainfall as me (about 40") as well as periods of drought (there are obviously several other differences in climate from Texas to Portland but trying to estimate their ability to survive on low water now). They list it as low water use. Most sites, however, do not provide clear info or (to possibly err on the safe side?) suggest it needs moderate water. I'll check Hinckley's book, thanks. Always hate to purchase plants, baby them through the first few years (I am breaking my back to), get attached to them, and then discover that they are poorly adapted to local circumstance.

Btw, on an unrelated note, our dryer mysteriously broke down and I was forced to put up a clothing line in the garden. WTH!
:rant:

Edited by Swolte

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amh

Have you considered Poncirus trifoliata or Asimina triloba?

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Manalto
2 hours ago, amh said:

Have you considered Poncirus trifoliata or Asimina triloba?

Excellent suggestions. So excellent in fact that I've already planted two Poncirus,  a standard and a 'Fying Dragon'. More are on the way where delivery people have a tendency to cut through my yard. I'm going to make a "security hedge" there; Michael Dirr made a comment recommending that anyone who plans to cut through a poncirus hedge had better line up a blood donor first.

I like your pawpaw recommendation too. I've got a spot in the other back corner of the property, under my neighbor's live oak, that would be perfect. Thank you! Do you have any advice on choice or cultivation of Asimina?

Edited by Manalto

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amh
30 minutes ago, Manalto said:

Excellent suggestions. So excellent in fact that I've already planted two Poncirus,  a standard and a 'Fying Dragon'. More are on the way where delivery people have a tendency to cut through my yard. I'm going to make a "security hedge" there; Michael Dirr made a comment recommending that anyone who plans to cut through a poncirus hedge had better line up a blood donor first.

I like your pawpaw recommendation too. I've got a spot in the other back corner of the property, under my neighbor's live oak, that would be perfect. Thank you! Do you have any advice on choice or cultivation of Asimina?

I'm new to pawpaws, but sunflower is a self fertile cultivar.

Most of my plants are from seed and are currently too young to fruit.

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Manalto
On 7/3/2020 at 9:28 AM, Swolte said:


Btw, on an unrelated note, our dryer mysteriously broke down and I was forced to put up a clothing line in the garden. WTH!
:rant:

Ha! So the hex I put on your dryer worked after all. I'll have another convert before long. Inspired by this discussion, I got my butt in gear and painted a rough first coat on the clothesline posts.

IMG_20200704_134737.thumb.jpg.80cc7b70d3ffeae9cb83a836588c1498.jpg

Locally, this is a well-known historical color, "Bellingrath Green" - a near-black used extensively in historic districts in the Mobile area and identical to Savannah green, Charleston green, etc. When my new green clothesline arrives, I'll remove the old eye-catching white one, apply a second coat and (in a few years) the whole clever arrangement (well... I have to reduce the height of the planting where the clothes will be, create an inconspicuous path for easy access and make it all look attractive - so that will require some innovation, right?) will disappear into the landscape. That's the plan, anyway.

I realize that clotheslines are a throwback and pretty uncommon these days. If I started a thread here, "Show Us How You've Incorporated Your Clothesline into Your Palm Planting" we'd hear nothing but crickets. But, just in case, show us!

 

Edited by Manalto

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Swolte

<_<

33 minutes ago, Manalto said:

I realize that clotheslines are a throwback and pretty uncommon these days. If I started a thread here, "Show Us How You've Incorporated Your Clothesline into Your Palm Planting" we'd hear nothing but crickets.

Yes, I wonder why. What could one do if one had no other choice (I imagine a trade war on dryers; violent sun-dry worshiping cult members in the neighborhood; a partner with a line fetish, etc...). Couldn't we just use Palms to dry clothes on? I mean, I bet if we cut the old petioles on our Sabals a bit longer they'd make for some great hooks. 
 -

 

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