Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Milton Keynes is about two and half miles away, as the quetzal flies.

Evergreen conifers. No, wait - come back! These are pretty interesting ones. These are species that were around at the dawn on time. Ones that dinosaurs would graze on, before getting stomach ache, presumably.

Winter is a pretty boring time in most people's gardens. All the Delphiniums and Dahlias that looked so nice in the summer, have shrivelled to a rotting mess. This is the reason why I've concentrated my efforts on plants that look good all-year-round.

I started off with palms and yuccas, then succulents and ferns. The list goes on. I suppose I first became interested in these ancient conifers after having see huge Monkey Puzzle trees growing in public and private gardens. Those weird sort of plants appeal to me.

I bought my Monkey Puzzle (Araucaria araucana pictured above) several years ago. It's actually grown quite a bit since I bought it. The little plant in the same pot is Ruscus aculeatus 'John Redmond', which holds on to red berries through the winter.

The tall conifer in the picture is the Wollemi Pine (Wollemia nobilis), rediscovered in the 1990's in Australia after having been thought to be extinct for millions of years. I have been reading the progress of Julia's Wollemi Pine on her great blog We're Going to Need a Bigger Pot. In a similar manner to Julia, I am naming my plant, Wollemina.

Another ancient Australian conifer is Araucaria bidwillii. This is my one below. The last two winters have been hard on it, but has so far survived happily outdoors. A friend bought it back from Australia in 2003, and it has been outside ever since. The native Australians used to eat the 'Bunya Pine' seeds as they fell. The cone bearing the seeds is especially large, and people are advised against walking under these trees in years of heavy coning.


The problem with these amazing trees, is that they grow up into very big plants. Oh well, I hope to have a bigger garden to accomodate them!

Now for something completely different, Pseudowintera colorata;



patientgardener said...

Hi - I have just started about getting some all round interest in my garden. Took me a while to realise that this was what was wrong. My Grevillia is lovely and seems to have survived the recent snow - might be worth a look

Frugilegus said...

Even though I've never found a way to eat them, I'm rather fond of the old monkey puzzle. My grandfather lovingly grew one for years in a quite incongruous location and it was very wrong and therefore somehow very right. I don't have anything more relevant or at all gardening related to say, so I'll just add that my favourite crossword compiler has taken it for his name, and then I shall quietly leave.

Ms B said...

Have you seen the woollemi pine planted at Kew? They have it behind bars.

I am always a little in two minds about many conifers. I think they probably neeed a big space to really look their best. I have 2 small yews in pots that I don't know what to do with...

R said...

I succumbed and bought a Woolemi as a direct result of the splendid specimen we saw a Kew, only days earlier. I had no idea you had one tucked away too. And where would we be without good old Ruscus!!!

Rob said...

Thanks for comments guys and girls!

Helen - there are some really nice Grevilleas. I seem to go for the more structural, evergreen plants. I have a Callistemon, which I love, but it tends to look a bit ratty over winter.

Ms B - If you look carefully, Kew has planted loads of Wollemi pines all over the place. The islands in the far lake have some planted on them. There is also one right next to The Evolution House, without a cage.

R - Did I not mention I had one? They are great plants. You need some replacement conifers in your garden, so just the job!

The Idiot Gardener said...

I have purchased some green piney things for my front garden; buggered if I know what they are because I just planted them and hoped they grow so dense that it would be a zero maintenance area!

The Dog said...

Conifers are great Mr Stacewicz. First thing to note is that they don't keel over and die when we have a winter, unlike many plants I have foolishly acquired.
Pinus palustris and patula are two I like, but as you point out, they eventually grow too large. Try doing some giant bonsai sort of thing.

Sunita said...

I just had to stop by and tell you that dahlias are winter stars in my part of the world.
There has to be a good side to having burning hot summers, hasn't there? If it leads to dahlia-happy winters, at least.

HappyMouffetard said...

SomeBeans (my other half) pines for a monkey puzzle tree. I keep pointing out huge, inappropriately planted ones to him. He also wants a Cedar of Lebanon. I do like the Pseudowintera colorata.

Ewa in the Garden said...

Ruscus aculaeatus is great healing herb - any plans about that?