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UK_Palms

Tropical Gardening at 51N in the English countryside

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UK_Palms

I have been growing palms for about 5 years now and I live in a tiny village out in the rural countryside. There is no UHI effect for me out here. My nearest big town, Guildford, is about 3 miles northeast of me. Going by my own records, temperature extremes in recent years have varied from a low of -11C / 12F here in February 2018 to a high of 39C / 103F in both July 2019 and August 2020. 

Here is a quick tour of some of my exotic collection, starting with a Musa Basjoo, Abyssinian Banana and some Cannas...

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Chamaerops Humilis...

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Trachycarpus Fortunei and Trachycarpus Nova growing at lightspeed here...

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The Washingtonia Filifera didn't even realise that we had an abnormally cold winter followed by the coldest spring on record. Hopefully it kicks on now...

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Washingtonia Robusta...

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All of my potted Washingtonia's defoliated after being left outdoors all winter long, unprotected. It was a colder than average winter and I had two nights that went down to 20F, as well as a few days that didn't rise above 32F. The pots were frozen solid like blocks of ice on several occasions, however they are ALL pushing new growth again. Unbelievable recovery rates on this species. 

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Jubaea Chilensis...

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Here is the Butia Odorata. This one has always suffered with some kind of deficiency or sickness, which effects the tips of the fronds. I can't diagnose the exact issue and don't know how to treat it. Thankfully it doesn't stop it growing and doesn't appear to be terminal...

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Hopefully my Cycas Revoluta will flush this year, since it didn't last year...

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I have a number of Chamaerops Humilis types here...

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The CIDP was left outdoors in it's pot all winter, unprotected. Big, strong spear on this one...

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The two Queens (Syagrus Romanzoffiana) looked like this a number of months back... :bemused:

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Here they are today, pushing new growth. Central growing points look strong...

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The bigger one has pushed out an entire new frond already, with a second frond just starting to emerge...

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The smaller one has a 3 emerging spears...

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I have a number of 'outdoor' cacti here too, which sometimes come indoors during winter.

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Chamadorea Radicalis...

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Archontophoenix Cunninghamiana...

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Phoenix Dactylifera planted out...

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Rhopalostylis Sapida var. Chatham Island...

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Beccariophoenix Alfredii...

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Another Abyssinian Banana and Trachycarpus Fortunei...

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The Trachycarpus Wagnerianus is coming along nicely...

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Yes, those are all tomatoes there... :floor:

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I have gone tomato plant crazy this year...

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I've got more palms and plants to add, but that will do for now... :greenthumb:

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PalmatierMeg

Very tropical looking temperate garden. Well done!

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MSX

Nice hardy palms collection, and tomatoes too!

How old are your potted jubaea and CIDP?

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UK_Palms
6 hours ago, MSX said:

Nice hardy palms collection, and tomatoes too!

How old are your potted jubaea and CIDP?

Thanks Marat, the CIDP was grown from seed that I collected in Perth in Western Australia back in 2013. I brought it back and germinated it, so the CIDP is now approximately 7-8 years old from seed. It was my first ever palm in my collection, although I didn't properly start collecting palms until 2-3 years after that in about 2016. It has been one of the fastest growing species for me here.

It's a bit more difficult to estimate the age of the Jubaea, however. I purchased it about 4 years ago now, when it was already a decent size. If I had to guess, I would say the Jubaea is about 15-20 years old now though probably, since they are such slow growers. It's easily my slowest growing palm here, given it's size too. Usually I only get about 3-4 new fronds each year. It's probably also the highest valued palm in my entire collection right now. 

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UK_Palms

The weather was dreadful on Sunday with a high of just 19C (66F) and rain during the evening. Still I couldn't resist getting some shots from the garden and allotment tonight as the English wildflower season is in full swing now...

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The smaller CIDP that is planted out has been swamped...

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Canna Purperea and Canna Stuttgart...

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The Cannas in the ground have all come back again with zero winter protection...

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These are my neighbour's Canna's. I brought my ones off him...

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Grapes doing really well this year, strangely, when everything else has struggled...

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My first sunflower of the year has opened...

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My Clematis...

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Here comes the flower show...

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I think I am going to focus less on palms and more on flowers next season. I have been obsessing over palms for a few years now, but have not given enough time towards flowers. A lot of these are my neighbours flowers on our shared bit of land, and the colour display has definitely encouraged me to plant more flowers myself next year. Especially around my palms. If anyone knows of any exotic, unusual, colourful, or striking flowers that I can add to the list, please do let me know...?

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MSX
20 hours ago, UK_Palms said:

Thanks Marat, the CIDP was grown from seed that I collected in Perth in Western Australia back in 2013. I brought it back and germinated it, so the CIDP is now approximately 7-8 years old from seed. It was my first ever palm in my collection, although I didn't properly start collecting palms until 2-3 years after that in about 2016. It has been one of the fastest growing species for me here.

It's a bit more difficult to estimate the age of the Jubaea, however. I purchased it about 4 years ago now, when it was already a decent size. If I had to guess, I would say the Jubaea is about 15-20 years old now though probably, since they are such slow growers. It's easily my slowest growing palm here, given it's size too. Usually I only get about 3-4 new fronds each year. It's probably also the highest valued palm in my entire collection right now. 

This wonderful Jubaea is the future centerpiece of your garden, and I think it will grow a tad faster when and if you plant it in the ground somewhere in the garden, no? While I love the prehistoric look of this palm and I think it's technically compatible with my climate its painfully slow growth rate has been stopping me to start it from seed...

Lovely flowers! If you have some space in your garden I'd suggest you to add some Oleander shrubs to your property, they're evergreen, hardy, flowering non-stop almost all year long with beautiful clusters of nice looking classy flowers, some are fragrant some species are not. They're very versatile, you can play with their shape as they can be cut and trimmed any way you like, grown in the ground or perfectly in pots, you can often see potted oleanders in fancy hotels or restaurants for the right ambiance. I love the flowering oleanders as much as I love the palms, just a quick suggestion!

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Tyrone

I’ve really come to admire the English for their ability to grow great gardens and really push the boundaries. The English grow bananas and tropical plants in a climate that’s colder than anywhere in Australia except the alps.

I remember when I first got into tropical plants in Perth Western Australia and people would tell me that we couldn’t grow this or that, like “bananas don’t fruit here”, “palms are too tropical to grow here”, bla bla bla . I’d just look at the English and what they were growing and the lengths they go too to make them grow well and think “well I’ve got it easy then.” Bananas do fruit in Perth. I once harvested a 40kg bunch off mine. But if you plant a banana in pure sand and never water it, then it doesn’t produce bananas. In general in Australia with some notable exceptions, we are lazy gardeners. That’s why everyone wants natives. The English gardeners are some of the best I reckon. We would never have had places like Kew Gardens and the Eden Project without them. 

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UK_Palms
5 hours ago, MSX said:

This wonderful Jubaea is the future centerpiece of your garden, and I think it will grow a tad faster when and if you plant it in the ground somewhere in the garden, no? While I love the prehistoric look of this palm and I think it's technically compatible with my climate its painfully slow growth rate has been stopping me to start it from seed...

Lovely flowers! If you have some space in your garden I'd suggest you to add some Oleander shrubs to your property, they're evergreen, hardy, flowering non-stop almost all year long with beautiful clusters of nice looking classy flowers, some are fragrant some species are not. They're very versatile, you can play with their shape as they can be cut and trimmed any way you like, grown in the ground or perfectly in pots, you can often see potted oleanders in fancy hotels or restaurants for the right ambiance. I love the flowering oleanders as much as I love the palms, just a quick suggestion!

 

I need to somehow incorporate the Butia and Jubaea into my planting scheme, whether at this house, or my next house. The only thing holding me off planting them is that I'm probably going to move house in a year or two. You are right that the pots will restrict growth, compared to being in the ground, but neither the Butia or Jubaea were protected during winter and are growing slowly, but decently, in their pots for now. I know that I can't leave them in there much longer though. Cheers for the advice on the Oleander as well. I look into getting some for next year. 

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Trachycarpus Nova

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During the rainstorm this evening...

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We've got a storm forecast here tomorrow. It's crashing into the west coast of France and will effect the south coast of England, but I am still expecting 30-40mph winds inland here. The banana's foliage will probably take a bit of a hit, so here is a picture of the spears the day before the storm hits.

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Chamaerops Humilis Argentea / Cerifera

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My Kentia has suffered some pretty bad sunburn, despite the overcast, wet days... :hmm:

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Got so many peppers and tomatoes this year that i don't know what to do with them all...

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Chester B
2 hours ago, Tyrone said:

I’ve really come to admire the English for their ability to grow great gardens and really push the boundaries. The English grow bananas and tropical plants in a climate that’s colder than anywhere in Australia except the alps.

I remember when I first got into tropical plants in Perth Western Australia and people would tell me that we couldn’t grow this or that, like “bananas don’t fruit here”, “palms are too tropical to grow here”, bla bla bla . I’d just look at the English and what they were growing and the lengths they go too to make them grow well and think “well I’ve got it easy then.” Bananas do fruit in Perth. I once harvested a 40kg bunch off mine. But if you plant a banana in pure sand and never water it, then it doesn’t produce bananas. In general in Australia with some notable exceptions, we are lazy gardeners. That’s why everyone wants natives. The English gardeners are some of the best I reckon. We would never have had places like Kew Gardens and the Eden Project without them. 

You are so right. The English are the masters at tropical style gardens in cooler climates. The amount of time I’ve spent on YouTube videos from the UK is ridiculous. They truly are the pioneers, and a great source of inspiration and knowledge for me. 

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Palmfarmer

Wow thats one heck of a garden. Only thing i miss is some more agaves and a Livestona would be great for the uk climate.

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Tyrone

Does Livistona chinensis survive at that latitude?

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Ryland

Well done @UK_Palms a very nice collection - if it were me I'd be unable to move house once I'd put down that many palm roots!  The Butia is an exceptionally architectural example, very nice, and you've managed to get a few seedlings that I've long sought but never found (Beccariophoenix, Rhopalostylis).  I agree with other comments, they would be happier in the ground, or at least a larger pot, especially the Jubaea.  What was the Phoenix in the ground, just before the photos of tomatoes?

One caution I'd mention, in case you aren't already on top of it, is the "swamped" phoenix will be at particular risk of rot.  I had/have a lovely Trachycarpus wagnerianus that I've been growing in a pot with the intention of planting it once it's tall enough to go above my ferns.  In late May I set the pot out amongst the ferns and they soon swamped it (most leaves still above the ferns).  Pulled it out in late June and crown rot :(.  I think it will be ok, but in hindsight I should never have let the ferns come in contact with its centre - both high humidity and runoff.

@Tyrone I think Livistona chinensis have occasionally been attempted with some limited success, but they aren't common outdoors.

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mxcolin

Very impressive considering also how few hours of sun you get. If the King Palm makes it, that’s pretty incredible. I’m on my third attempt to grow Kings.

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UK_Palms
On 7/6/2021 at 9:27 AM, Ryland said:

Well done @UK_Palms a very nice collection - if it were me I'd be unable to move house once I'd put down that many palm roots!  The Butia is an exceptionally architectural example, very nice, and you've managed to get a few seedlings that I've long sought but never found (Beccariophoenix, Rhopalostylis).  I agree with other comments, they would be happier in the ground, or at least a larger pot, especially the Jubaea.  What was the Phoenix in the ground, just before the photos of tomatoes?

One caution I'd mention, in case you aren't already on top of it, is the "swamped" phoenix will be at particular risk of rot.  I had/have a lovely Trachycarpus wagnerianus that I've been growing in a pot with the intention of planting it once it's tall enough to go above my ferns.  In late May I set the pot out amongst the ferns and they soon swamped it (most leaves still above the ferns).  Pulled it out in late June and crown rot :(.  I think it will be ok, but in hindsight I should never have let the ferns come in contact with its centre - both high humidity and runoff.

@Tyrone I think Livistona chinensis have occasionally been attempted with some limited success, but they aren't common outdoors.


Thanks, Ryland! I know what you mean about not being able to move once you have so many palms in the ground. It’s the only thing that is preventing me from planting the Butia and Jubaea, as I don’t want to have to dig them up again and risk unnecessary transplant shock. I will no doubt have to dig up quite a few palms when I do move though. It’s a catch 22 as to whether I plant any others from here on. I could still be at the house for another 3-4 years, or I could move next year. Hard to say. 

That Phoenix in the middle of my lawn is a Theophrasti. It was badly root-bound and suffering big time before I even planted it, but I also lost about 1/3 of the rootball during the transplant as well. Plus it was planted in January. It suffered major transplant shock as a result. It has sailed through the past 2 winters in the ground, but it isn’t growing as well as I would like. I reckon it will kick on eventually once it settles in properly. Peter Jenkins has an unbelievable Theophrasti on the outskirts of London, not far from Heathrow. Grown from seed I believe. So I will be patient with my one…

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Sorry to hear about your Wagnerianus. They are pretty hardy and should recover okay in the coming months. But I heed your advice based on your experience. I will try to cut back the foliage this weekend and let that smaller CIDP breath. I checked the spear last night and it is all good, for now at least. It also looks smaller than it is due to all that foliage swamping it. Those plants are probably blocking out quite a bit of sunlight too! 

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Darold Petty

I live in a microclimate with 66F as the normal summer high temperature.  I have never seen an Oleander plant here.  Although this shrub is very common in California, it is usually seen in hot summer climates.    This plant is valued for its tolerance of brutal, full sun and high temperatures. It is often used in the median of the automobile freeways.

However, we learn nothing new by sticking with the conventional wisdom, so give it a try, and keep us informed !  :)

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realarch

A BIG  thumbs up for your passionate gardening skills. Sharing the planting with the neighbors must intensify the fulfillment.

Tim

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PalmatierMeg
On 7/5/2021 at 9:39 PM, Chester B said:

You are so right. The English are the masters at tropical style gardens in cooler climates. The amount of time I’ve spent on YouTube videos from the UK is ridiculous. They truly are the pioneers, and a great source of inspiration and knowledge for me. 

I totally agree. English gardens are almost other worldly they are so beautiful. The photos of those gorgeous flowers are mesmerizing. Almost all of those temperate plants are impossible in SWFL.

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mxcolin
29 minutes ago, PalmatierMeg said:

I totally agree. English gardens are almost other worldly they are so beautiful. The photos of those gorgeous flowers are mesmerizing. Almost all of those temperate plants are impossible in SWFL.

Yeah, my biggest problem is the rainless summer heat. Almost anything with a little color gets cooked here in the merciless sun.

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mxcolin
1 hour ago, Darold Petty said:

I live in a microclimate with 66F as the normal summer high temperature.  I have never seen an Oleander plant here.  Although this shrub is very common in California, it is usually seen in hot summer climates.    This plant is valued for its tolerance of brutal, full sun and high temperatures. It is often used in the median of the automobile freeways.

However, we learn nothing new by sticking with the conventional wisdom, so give it a try, and keep us informed !  :)

We have oleander everywhere here, but it kinda scares me with just how poisonous it is. It definitely tolerates our brutal summer sun.

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UK_Palms
On 7/6/2021 at 5:21 AM, Tyrone said:

Does Livistona chinensis survive at that latitude?

There is a Livistona Chinensis planted outdoors at the Royal College of Physicians in London. I think it has been in the ground for about a decade now. 

This is what it looked like in 2014...

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And again in 2019...

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It's slow growing, but it is surviving. Looks relatively healthy as well. Probably doesn't get much sunlight either. There's bound to be a few others lurking out there in London, or on the south coast. Possibly Ventnor? I wonder if Tresco has any? It's clear that they are slow to grow over here, even if they will survive in a select few places.

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Tyrone
2 hours ago, UK_Palms said:

There is a Livistona Chinensis planted outdoors at the Royal College of Physicians in London. I think it has been in the ground for about a decade now. 

This is what it looked like in 2014...

DSCF2273.thumb.jpg.3481998b5279eb827e0d03fef92d739e.jpg

 

And again in 2019...

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It's slow growing, but it is surviving. Looks relatively healthy as well. Probably doesn't get much sunlight either. There's bound to be a few others lurking out there in London, or on the south coast. Possibly Ventnor? I wonder if Tresco has any? It's clear that they are slow to grow over here, even if they will survive in a select few places.

It’s in a protected spot. I think they look better in the shade anyway. I try and plant all of my chinensis in a rainforest shady environment to get that exact look that you’ve posted. Very tropical looking.

What about Livistona australis. Any in the uk in the ground? 

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UK_Palms
22 minutes ago, Tyrone said:

It’s in a protected spot. I think they look better in the shade anyway. I try and plant all of my chinensis in a rainforest shady environment to get that exact look that you’ve posted. Very tropical looking.

What about Livistona australis. Any in the uk in the ground? 

Can't say that I have ever tried it here. I have stuff like Phoenix Dactylifera in the ground, as well as Syagrus Romanzoffiana (as per the above photos), but I think stuff like Livistona Chilensnis will be a step too far for most UK people, unfortunately. Outside of central London and the extreme south coast. I'll try to dig deeper and find more photos of any potential Livistonia specimens in the UK, but they are going to be few and far between. It definitely isn't a species that has been adequately tested here. So there is still quite the scope for experimentation. 

You'll have to excuse me though Tyrone, since I am very, very drunk right now. England have just won the semi final of the Euros and all. I have been drinking Jack Daniels for the past 6-7 hours. To say that I am bladdered would be an understatement. I am wrecked. I don't know how I am still typing right now haha. Come on England!!!! Haha. Love you mate. I will look to see if I can find any other UK Livistona Chilensis, or any other Livsistona for that matter in general. There are probably other examples out there, somewhere. 

Here is a Livistona Australis in the UK from a few years ago, but I haven't got a more recent photo...

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We are some years behind on the palm front in the UK, like in general. We still need a few more years to catch up properly here. I suspect there are quite a few Livistona's out there which aren't getting adequate coverage. Here is an Australis though, nonetheless. Again, we are still a massive work in progress over here. This summer had been shite though, unfortunately. Give us a couple more months/years to see where we are at. The palm front over here is going from strength to strength though, clearly. Just slower progression than most places...

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UK_Palms
On 7/6/2021 at 12:12 AM, Tyrone said:

I remember when I first got into tropical plants in Perth Western Australia and people would tell me that we couldn’t grow this or that, like “bananas don’t fruit here”, “palms are too tropical to grow here”, bla bla bla . I’d just look at the English and what they were growing and the lengths they go too to make them grow well and think “well I’ve got it easy then.” Bananas do fruit in Perth. I once harvested a 40kg bunch off mine.

It seems bananas can fruit in London and on the south coast over here. This is probably the biggest banana clump that I have seen over here. It has produced a number of bananas that are visible from the Google street view. I don't know whether they protect it over winter, but I could imagine this clump gets cut back to ground level once a decade or so, regardless of protection.

But it must survive a number of years, back to back, to continue growing and producing fruit like this. Obviously nothing like the 40kg of fruit that you guys will harvest over there in WA. But still impressive nonetheless, for 51N of the equator. I doubt I will ever be able to get my Musa Basjoo looking like this here, outside of central London's UHI. 

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Tyrone
4 hours ago, UK_Palms said:

It seems bananas can fruit in London and on the south coast over here. This is probably the biggest banana clump that I have seen over here. It has produced a number of bananas that are visible from the Google street view. I don't know whether they protect it over winter, but I could imagine this clump gets cut back to ground level once a decade or so, regardless of protection.

But it must survive a number of years, back to back, to continue growing and producing fruit like this. Obviously nothing like the 40kg of fruit that you guys will harvest over there in WA. But still impressive nonetheless, for 51N of the equator. I doubt I will ever be able to get my Musa Basjoo looking like this here, outside of central London's UHI. 

1714215337_Screenshot2021-07-08at02_53_24.thumb.png.09e2290b80789977eeca928de546cecb.png

975908250_Screenshot2021-07-08at02_54_03.thumb.png.2f9e1e0ebd96f803beeccb020e96104b.png

Yes, that’s what I mean. The English are incredible growers of tropical plants when you consider the kind of weather you guys have to deal with. I probably can’t grow bananas that good in my place in Albany, and I’m about 1200 miles closer to the equator. 

I think I remember seeing some impressive clumps of bananas when I was in London last time in 2017, in Hampton, near Hampton Court. It blew me away. Then there were the huge stands of bananas with fruit outside the domes at the Eden Project in Cornwall. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. 

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UK_Palms

I only just scratched the surface on the flowers that I have growing around my property, on both my land and my neighbour's patch...

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I am happy with the variety and colour, but I am hoping to add more tropical plants and flowers next year. The neighbours on both sides deserve credit for a lot of these flowers, since I get to see this every day when I step outside. There is a bit of flower growing competition between us all now as well, since we share a piece of communal land but have our own gardening spots next to each other. Next year I need to add more flowers around the base of my palms to give the palmy areas more colour.

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sipalms

How does the allotment system work in the UK? Do you all get to own a patch on some public land in your village?

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UK_Palms
8 hours ago, sipalms said:

How does the allotment system work in the UK? Do you all get to own a patch on some public land in your village?

The allotment is owned by the Parish Council, who lease out patches for £10 a year. I have had the same patch for about 5-6 years now and it is roughly a 3 minute walk from my house. There are a lot of flowers growing at the allotment, many of which are wild. Some have become naturalised in that area now. 

The majority of the flowers seen in this thread are from my garden though, and my neighbours garden. We also share a small bit of communal land at the back of our yards, where he has planted quite a few flowers. Whereas I have stuck more to palms and exotics on my side. 

I’m really impressed with how well the Canna’s have come back after the poor winter and dreadful spring. No protection whatsoever, but they are doing good still, in an otherwise poor year. Risen from the ashes, literally. I won’t ever bother protecting them over winter if they can just sail through like this…

864CAAAF-6A23-42DB-8AC3-C4CCCDDD03FD.thumb.jpeg.679d85cc44196702f94741ecf9774ba5.jpeg

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Alicante

Amazing! It's just unbelievable, what a gem of a garden you've got there in that latitude.

While in Rotterdam, at quite a similar latitude, people freak out to maintain alive a simple Phoenix Dactylfera, and it finally dies in a harsher winter.  :crying:

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Chester B
21 hours ago, UK_Palms said:

It seems bananas can fruit in London and on the south coast over here. This is probably the biggest banana clump that I have seen over here. It has produced a number of bananas that are visible from the Google street view. I don't know whether they protect it over winter, but I could imagine this clump gets cut back to ground level once a decade or so, regardless of protection.

But it must survive a number of years, back to back, to continue growing and producing fruit like this. Obviously nothing like the 40kg of fruit that you guys will harvest over there in WA. But still impressive nonetheless, for 51N of the equator. I doubt I will ever be able to get my Musa Basjoo looking like this here, outside of central London's UHI. 

1714215337_Screenshot2021-07-08at02_53_24.thumb.png.09e2290b80789977eeca928de546cecb.png

975908250_Screenshot2021-07-08at02_54_03.thumb.png.2f9e1e0ebd96f803beeccb020e96104b.png

Musa basjoo will flower and fruit in a cool climate.  3rd year for the individual stalk and they seem to do it whether they are big or not.  I had 2 banana clumps last year and 3 already this year, and I'm in zone 8B which I believe to be colder than London.  I don't protect at all and do lose the leaves each year and experience some trunk dieback.  At the rate mine are growing this year they will get about that size, last year they were close to 20'.

Also, Cannas are not as tender as you believe them to be, most people in zone 7 will have them come back as long as they have some mulch covering them for winter, so a place like London and most of the UK will have no issues with them returning each year.  I used them in the beginning when I started my garden for immediate impact while the palms and main structural plants were small.  They come back year after year, but are getting competed out now.

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