Sunday, January 11, 2015

How Not to Treat a Tree Fern

Poor tree fern, this one has had a tough life so far....


First it got harvested from its habitat in Australia then exported all the way here. Then just imagine what sort of handling it has received from the shipping container and all throughout its stay in the nursery where it came from (it won't be delicate that's for sure).

Then it had it's own saga on it's way to where it is now.


This was a replacement for one of the tree ferns we bought as a batch last spring that didn't send out any growth last summer. We had to wait till autumn for their new batch of import to arrive to get a replacement one. It's delivery didn't go exactly smoothly.

My understanding was that they will collect the old one as they delivery the new one. What they arranged instead was that the new one will be delivered first then a separate courier will collect the old.

So we had the old one wrapped up ready for collection and positioned by the side of the house.

The new tree fern, the one on the photo was delivered as expected but the delivery man put it upside down with the crown on the ground with it's heavy weight resting on it. Big no-no but fortunately it didn't stay that long before I had him turn it right side up.

As it was so heavy and I was on my own I left it at the front of the house, to wait for Gaz's arrival so we can shift it at the back together. I have very little worries about leaving anything at the front as our street is very quiet and nothing gets stolen (touch wood). So I went back into the garden and carried on with my usual business. Half an hour later I went to the front to put things in the rubbish bin when I saw that the tree fern was missing!!!

Upset, I knocked on our neighbours to check if they have seen anything and they said no. A couple of guys doing gas work a few houses away said they weren't paying attention. So much for 'nothing gets stolen'. Then I noticed the old tree fern was still there. Could it be??

Then I rang the nursery and explained what had happened. They then checked their couriers and confirmed what I suspected later on: the separate courier collected the new tree fern instead of the old one!! They didn't even bother the consignment papers still attached on the newly delivered tree fern.

An hour later the courier that collected the new tree fern came back to return it and swap for the real old one. And guess what, the tree fern was upside down on the van!! Too tired to argue I just let him do his thing and making sure he puts it down the right way up, trying not to get upset at the sight of crushed new fronds about to unfurl and the thought that the crown was mashed and damaged. I'm just glad that it has finally arrived.

We later shifted it on to the side passage and hoped to get it planted over the weekend. The planting didn't happen and it has stayed there since, unplanted and sat on a concrete slab.

As for the crown, the crushed fronds eventually fell off and fortunately it has sent out more fronds since indicating that the crown was fine despite being weighed on by it's own heavy trunk. Though unplanted, we had at least kept it hydrated as much as we could. And it seemed sturdy and secure standing where it was initially.

Then on Thursday, with the storms and gails arriving I found it blown over and lying on its side in the evening. That must have been a heavy fall. Thankfully it didn't snap another plant nearby but how many times must a tree fern fall? Our fault.


And I was about to take a photo of it lying down but by the time I was about to Gaz has propped it up again. Hopefully the bag of slate will make it less likely to fall again.

It hasn't received a good treatment so far but we promise to get it planted in the spring and give it lots of TLC. But for now talk about how not to treat a tree fern!

But how should you treat a tree fern (Dicksonia antarctica)? In a gist:

The crown is the most sensitive part, don't weight it down or stand upside down for a start!

Keep the crown and the rest of the trunk well hydrated and never let dry out.

Protect the crown with a bit of mulch or fleece during the winter (more when it gets colder and prolonged cold spells).

Plant out as soon as possible.  If bare rooted or an unrooted trunk bury a decent length (half a foot to a foot or even more depending on the size) so it reroots and reestablishes much quicker.


Hopefully it will forgive us and reestablish quickly as soon as it gets planted, cross fingers!

Mark :-)

22 comments :

  1. I know you guys take excellent care of your plants--so despite a difficult start it surely will thrive come spring. When it is established and gigantic and gorgeous you will have the fun story of its arrival to tell (it will be fun then).

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    1. Thanks Gail, hopefully that'll be the case :)

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  2. I'm glad it wasn't pilfered after all and that it's now in your good hands.

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    1. Same here Kris, hopefully it will recover nicely once planted out :)

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  3. Oh the travail of this poor tree fern. You'll certainly make up for it when you plant it this spring!

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    1. Definitely will Peter, will try anyway :)

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  4. Poor guy, I'm sure he'll be thrilled to be in the ground and have that feeling of being at home, finally. I wonder why you don't ever see tree ferns for sale like that here in the U.S.?

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    1. Possibly different importation rules per state Loree, or just very strict for the entire country.

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  5. Poor thing. I used to feel particularly sorry for large ones at my local B&Q where they would sit out in full sun, unwatered and slowly die. Such a terrible waste. D

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    1. Same with our local branch David, poor tree ferns out in sun and unwatered. The staff don't have a clue what to do...

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  6. You'd think that they would put some sort of "this end up" notice for the delivery people -- those things aren't cheap! We've all had experience with "somebody else" treating our plants in ways that we'd never consider, so I can imagine how you felt!

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    1. I had a mini heart attack the moment the delivery guy put the tree fern upside down Alan, and several more times during that day. Whew,what a day that was!

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  7. I thought gardening was supposed to be stress free!

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    1. You can stillstill get those odd moments occasionally Roger....

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  8. What a saga...but it will be worth to the dear Tree Fern in the end. It has come to live in a little paradise where it will be loved and cherished. I am looking forward to follow up pictures!

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    1. That's a lovely way of putting it Laurin, made me smile :)

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  9. Oh! What a story! Suspense! I am ready to adopt the poor thing! But, I know that you will be better parents, because I've killed already two of them. They didn't like my garage...
    Well, good luck!!!

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    1. Thanks Tatyana! Worth trying again perhaps, third time lucky :)

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  10. What kind of idiot puts a plant upside down like that. Crazy! I am sure that this fern will be remarkable just because it has been through soo much. And it now has great parents!

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    1. We hope so Candice :) couriers are familiar with things like this hence likely to make mistakes, especially as they look like logs without the fronds out

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  11. I absolutely love tree ferns. I'm glad yours is tough and it looks as it will be ok in the moment you plant it:)

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