Phoenix Canariensis The Canary Island Date Palm

Phoenix Canariensis The Canary Island Date Palm

Here where we are in Africa however it's very easy to grow palms, in fact when we eat dates we simply throw the seeds out and they germinate within a few weeks and form plants very quick. In the UK and in colder climes however you can still enjoy palm trees you just need to select the correct species.

Although Trachycarpus Fortunei would win the Gold Medal for being the most recommended palm, the one you’re most likely to see growing in gardens here in the UK is Phoenix Canariensis.

The reason for this popularity is easy to explain.

It looks different; most gardeners like to grow something a little unusual occasionaly and P.Canariensis certainly fits the bill.

It’s available almost anywhere; I’ve seen P.Canariensis for sale on market stalls, in d.i.y. stores, corner shops, even in supermarkets, so with this kind of exposure, it's no wonder everyone's buying them and they are cheap as well so you can afford a forest of them.

This popularity isn’t confined to the U.K. either.

Like T.Fortunei, P.Canariensis seems to have found a niche in the palm world and it can now be found growing in virtually every country where the climate is suitable.

One thing that I've noticed about the P.Canariensis I’ve seen growing in various parts of the UK is the lack of winter protection.

Despite this, all the palms that I’ve kept my eye on in passing are thriving and are a pleasure to see.

Clearly, the gardeners must be doing something right or P.Canariensis is hardier than we believe.

Growing anything up to 60ft tall and looking very majestic with it, P.Canariensis is I think everyone’s idea of what a palm should look like.

To come across a group of them growing in the wild is a very impressive sight and if it doesn’t raise at least an "Ooh" and an "Ahh", then you have no Soul.

For cultivation tips I refer you to my blog Palms! Planting out your treasures.

The one thing you should remember is that P.Canariensis grows in what amounts to semi arid conditions and it’s essential that they’re planted in fast draining soil or compost.

Any excess water hanging around the roots will cause no end of problems and could end up causing the death of your palm.


Roscoea, the hardiest gingers

Roscoea, the hardiest gingers.

Roscoea Auriculata Named in honour of William Roscoe, founder of Liverpool University Ness Botanical Gardens, the genus Roscoea has a long history of cultivation in the U.K.

A genus of nearly 20 species, they grow at high altitudes in the Himalayas and South West China etc.

Normally found growing in well drained meadows, on slopes and in lightly forested area, they are the most northerly growing members of the ginger family. (Zingiberacae)

All of the Roscoea can be regarded as frost hardy in U.K. gardens.

By tradition, they’ve always been looked on as plants for the alpine and woodland specialist and despite the present day popularity of other members of the ginger family; this still seems to be the case today.

In recent years, there have been several new introductions and by carefully choosing the species, you can have Roscoea in flower from late May until mid autumn.

Roscoea are easy to grow plants with no particular vices.

Light shade is a good place to grow them and they don't mind a bit of late afternoon sun.

Soil should be well drained but moist with plenty of organic matter dug in.

If you water and fertilize well during the growing season you'll soon build up a really nice clump.

Winter protection isn't required.


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The USDA zone system explained.

The USDA zone system explained.

If you’re new to growing exotics and you’re looking through catalogues or browsing the web searching for prospective purchases, then you’ve probably noticed this "usda zone 8" included somewhere in the plant description.

This is the United States Department of Agriculture zone system and its use as an indicator of a plants temperature tolerance has become virtually universal amongst enthusiasts and specialist nurseries alike here in the U.K.

Note: The zones range from 1 which is the coldest to 11 the warmest.

The bulk of the U.K. mainland is zone 8, parts of the West and South West are zone 9 while a small area of central Northern England and the central Scottish Highlands are zone 7. (Central London is possibly zone 9 also.)

Although the zone system is a useful tool, it should be used with caution.

It's easy to make the mistake of thinking that because a plant has a rating of say zone 6 then it will be hardy here in the U.K.

Unfortunately, this is not the case because as you will see, there are other factors to be considered as well as frost hardiness.

My thanks go to Mr.Ramon Jordan, Research Plant Pathologist at the U.S.National Arboretum for allowing me to publish this explanation of the zone system.

The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map is based only on Temperature. It illustrates Zones based on "Average annual minimum temperature data". It does NOT take into consideration other environmental factors, such as those that you mention, including for example: snow, frost, day-length, days at a given temperature, rainfall, and altitude. It only shows "what is the average coldest temperature for a region". Plants listed with each region have been shown to be "hardy" at those average minimum temperatures. Having said that, every plant has a certain ability to adapt to a range of environments. Gardeners such as yourself have learned through experience where the great variety of landscape plants can (or can not) be grown. I hope this has been helpful.

Reading the above passage, it’s clear to see that there’s far more to buying and growing exotics than just checking a plants zone rating to see if it’s hardy.

In the days when I used to log on to the various online forums, it was clear from the content of many of the posts that people new to growing exotics had bought plants simply on the strength of their zone rating.

As many of them had come to realize, this is a big mistake and can prove to be a very expensive one into the bargain.

Always do some research into your plants needs, because in the end it will pay dividends.





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