Thursday, November 01, 2012

Rarities at the Palm Centre

Trachycarpus princeps - this one not for sale though!
Absence makes the heart grow fonder, that's what they say when you feel more excited to see or do something if you haven't done so for quite some time.

And somehow that's what I felt the moment we drove into the car park of the Palm Centre en route to our afternoon in Kew Gardens last Sunday. It's just that we haven't been to both for quite some time, many months, and that's a relatively long stretch of time considering that we have an annual pass to the latter. Life has been hectic on the whole this year and we haven't really made much use of this pass (and somehow I'm starting to think it will be the same again next year but it's handy enough to have the pass nevertheless, especially when the odd moment comes that we have free time and don't know what to, and presto, head down to Kew!).

Latania lodigesii
Rhapis humilis
Whenever we head down to this botanic haven we always visit the Palm Centre first, for they always seem to have a new gem or two to admire each time we visit. And because we haven't been for quite some time it looked like they have a lot more rare plants in stock. More likely they were all deliveries that trickled in during the summer months and fortunately lots more were left for us to see in the flesh.

A row of Phormium tenax 'Williamsii' - a phormium that can grow to gigantic proportions. If you have the space to do this justice plant it out and then stand back...
What they may lack in height they make up for girth - a row of very lush and stocky Yucca rostratas
Instant impact - a large Brahea armata
A couple of large Trithrinax brasiliensis (as labelled, but looked more like T. acanthoma to me...)
A row of Rhapis humilis. Much more elegant looking than the more usual Rhapis excelsa. All three have a sold tag already (not by us though!)
Several Trachycarpus martianus with good sized trunks were also for sale
Dasylirion serratifolium
Some smaller Yucca rostratas inside one of the greenhouses
And amongst the Yuccas are a few large cycads including a Dioon edule like this one (which is coning)
But this one is my favourite, gorgeous! Macrozamia communis
A few smaller Dioon edule are available inside the small, heated section within the greenhouses
Encephalartos natalensis
Encephalartos altensteinii
Cycas rumphii - took one of these beauties with us, our only purchase for the day
And back out into the greenhouses (the heated section is a 'greenhouse within a greenhouse') we saw rows of the elegant palm Chamaedorea microspadix
And rows of gorgeous Yucca filiferas - a yucca which turned out to be not so hardy in our area
Jubaeopsis caffra - haven't seen this palm in the flesh before, nice!
And back outside they had some nice sized Jubaea chilensis - a very slow growing feather palm from Chile
But the highlight of browsing through their plants for sale outside the greenhouses is seeing this huge Dasylirion quadrangulatum. The biggest specimen I've ever seen in person!
And this one isn't too bad either, a shorter yet multi headed Dasyliron quadrangulatum 
Lots of very, very nice plants! The only thing is at the moment neither of us are in a plant buying mode so we just went away with a small, inexpensive cycad. It is autumn and the cold months have barely started. Most of these gems are either not that hardy, or if it is, would be too late in the season to plant out. We're just over halfway through sorting our plants out to their winter homes and we have lots to overwinter indoors (or under cover) enough as it is, let alone add some more. So we have to be good and more disciplined this time.

Perhaps we'll let loose next year. Assuming (and hoping) that some of the gems we particularly liked are still there by then of course!

And speaking of Kew, Loree of Danger Garden paid it a visit a few weeks ago and is featuring photos with a write up of her visit every Wednesday in her blog (the series aptly titled Kew Wednesdays).

Sackler Crossing and 'shopping'...

The Mediterranean Garden

Visiting the Temperate House

The Palm House

Do check out some of the entries she has made so far and keep an eye on her future instalments. I thought it a fitting complement to this post as for me Palm Centre and Kew Gardens do go hand in hand, with the two being so near each other.

Mark :-)


  1. The Palms are beautiful. Here we can only have some in the house if we want them. I like that same one you did also.
    Cher Sunray Gardens
    Goldenray Yorkies

    1. Hi Cher, yes they are beautiful :) Some of these plants would make a great houseplant especially if you live in a colder region.

  2. So this is where our native sotols have gone! Y. Rostrata are getting quite expensive around here.

    That does look like a nice place to shop with quite a good selection.

    1. Hi Shirley, it is a nice place to shop indeed :) As for the sotols, this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are tons, and hundreds of them shipped every year to Spain, Netherlands, and Italy.

  3. It must have taken willpower to resist the temptation of so many beauties. Isn't it strange how we can always find room for one more palm.

    1. Hi Missy, yes it took some willpower but it helped neither of us were in the mood to buy lots as winter is just approaching. But if one is in the mood, it's easy enough to find space for just one more plant/palm.... :)

  4. I want a Jubaea chilensis so badly... I would have to keep it as a container plant but they are just so cool... and that Jubaeopsis caffra is really intriguing as well!

    1. Hi College Gardener, I love Jubaea chilensis as well, such an imposing feather palm! We used to have a couple planted out but winter 2010-11 saw them both off. Now we keep them in pots too and dragged under cover if the weather gets too cold.

  5. So many wonders! Love Rhapis humilis and those huge Dasylirion quadrangulatum are amazing. I share your lack of enthusiasm for plant buying at this time, especially buying plants that would need to be inside for several months.

    1. Indeed outlawgardener! We have yet to acquire a Rhapis humilis but would hopefully get one next year. Yep, totally agree about the mood, it's best to buy new ones spring next year now.

  6. Wow! What an amazing place...the Yucca and Dasylirion, oh and the Cycads too! Love them all...I could spend a great deal of money there. I am curious and I hope it's not rude to ask. How much do those short but stocky Y. rostrata go for?

    Also thank you for the links, I am honored.

    1. A pleasure to share your lovely photolugue of Kew Loree :) Yes it's a dangerous place for ones pocket! I can't remember exactly how much were those stocky Yuccas but I think they're in the region of between £169-£299 (they tend to sell Yuccas on the steep side but other plants are more reasonable).

  7. Wow. I love the cycads. I thought I'd gotten over my cycad obsession since they're expensive and slow-growing but it's clear I haven't.

    The stocky Yucca rostratas were the most beautiful nursery specimens I've ever seen. But you're right, they are PRICY!

    1. Hi Gerhard, Cycads are such splendid, architectural plants aren't they? No wonder you're enamoured. I could easily get into them myself if I wanted to :)

      I was also taken by those stocky Yucca rostratas, never seen any as chunky as those in nurseries before.

  8. I want that princeps! Fantastic goodies on offer at the Palm Centre it seems. Thanks for sharing your great images. I really need to visit the Palm Centre, perhaps next year.

    1. That princeps is certainly lovely Kris! On your next visit to Kew do pop round to the Palm Centre as well, you'll love the range of exotic plants they have there :)


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