Saturday, 21 February 2009

Subtropical Gardening - W. ROBINSON, 1871.

A few palms from W.R.

Some Palms, like Seaforthia, may be used with the best effect for the winter decoration of the conservatory, and be placed out with a good result, and without danger, in summer.

Areca sapida. — A New Zealand palm [Rhopalostylis sapida] from 6 and a half ft. to nearly 10 ft. high, with a beautiful crown of bright-green pinnate leaves, which when young are tinged with a bronze colour: leaflets from 16 ins. to 2 ft. in length, lance-shaped. The young leafstalks are of a greyish red hue. A fine palm for placing in the open air in summer, and equally so for the conservatory in winter and spring. It is of very easy culture, if supplied with plenty of water

CARYOTA SOBOLIFERA. — Tender Palm ; for summer use in the southern counties only.
[Illustration from W. Robinson The Subtropical Garden]

Caryota sobolifera. — An elegant Palm, with a slender stem and shining light-green bipinnate leaves. The leaf-stalks, when young, are clothed with a short, black, scaly tomentum. which falls off as the plant grows older. It is often confounded with C. urens,, but may be easily distinguished from it by the suckers which it produces very freely from its base. Similar treatment and uses to those given for C. urens, with which it is of much the same value for the open garden. Malacca.

Caryota urens. — An East Indian Palm, with a stout stem, and an elegant crown of spreading bipinnate leaves, from 3 ft. to 12 ft., or more, in length, of a dark-green colour, the leaflets being 6 ins. to 9 ins. long by 2 ins. to 4 ins. wide, when young, it should be potted in equal parts of loam and vegetable mould, with a little sand ; the pot to be well drained and water given liberally during the growing season. It is generally seen in a small state in this country ; and though it stands the open air in summer, from June till the end of September, pretty well, it can never be of much importance for our open-air gardening.

CHAMAEDOREA ; Slender Palm Type ; for placing amidst groups of dwarfer subjects during the summer months [Illustration from W. Robinson The Subtropical Garden]

Chamaedorea. — A family of Mexican palms, with smooth, fine green stems, resembling those of the bamboos, seldom more than 15 ft. or 20 ft. high and 1 in. or 2 ins. thick, surmounted by tufts of eight or nine pinnate or almost entire leaves, nearly 8 ft. in length. Among the most ornamental species are C. elatior, C. elegans, and C. Ernesti-Augusti. These elegant palms may, with advantage, be placed in the open air in early summer, in sunny but sheltered nooks, and taken in at the end of September. Their small, elegant heads particularly fit them for placing here and there among groups of medium-sized, fine-leaved plants, or among mixed masses of dahlias, cannas, etc.

Chamaerops excelsa. — A hardy species, [Trachycarpus fortunei] with an erect stem, 20 ft. or 30 ft. high in its native country, and dark-green, erect, fan-shaped leaves, deeply cut into narrow segments. The leaf-stalks are from 3 ft. to 6 ft. long, and are enclosed at the base in a dense mass of rough fibres, and armed at the edges with small, tooth-like spines. This plant remains out during the winter in the neighbourhood of Paris, in sheltered positions, the stem being protected in severe frosts with a covering of straw, etc., and it is worth a trial in the south with us.

CHAMAEROPS EXCELSA ; Hardy Palm ; best in sheltered positions
[illustration from W. Robinson The Subtropical Garden]

Chamaerops Fortunei (The Chusan Palm). — This species [Trachycarpus fortunei - today both are considered as the same species] is often confounded with C. excelsa, from which, however, it differs in being of a stouter habit, having a more profuse matted network of fibres around the bases of the leaves and crown, the segments of the leaves much broader, and the leaf-stalks shorter and stouter, from 1 ft. to 2 ft. long, and quite unarmed. It grows 12 ft. or more in height, and has a handsome, spreading head of fan-like leaves, which are slit into segments about half-way down. It may not be generally known that this palm is perfectly hardy in this country. A plant of it in Her Majesty's gardens at Osborne has stood out for many winters and attained a considerable height. It is also placed out at Kew, though protected in winter. On the water-side of the high mound in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Regent's Park, it is in even better health than at Kew, though it has not had any protection for years, and stood the fearfully hard frost of 1860. If small plants of this are procured, it is better to grow them on freely for a year or two in the greenhouse, and then turn them out in April, spreading the roots a little and giving them a deep loamy soil. Plant in a sheltered place, so that the leaves may not be injured by winds when they grow up and get large. A gentle hollow, or among shrubs on the sides of some sheltered glade, will prove the best place for it. The establishment of a palm among our somewhat monotonous shrubbery and garden vegetation is surely worthy of a little trouble, and the precautions indicated will prove quite sufficient.

Chamaerops Palmetto (Palmetto Palm). — This is a rather slow-growing species, [Sabal palmetto] but valuable on account of its hardiness. It grows to a height of about 15 ft, and has glaucous or sea-green, fan-shaped leaves, divided into long narrow segments. The stem is smooth or without prickles. It is a very fine object when planted out ; and, grown in tubs in a cool house or conservatory, stands the open air in summer well, and should be put out at the end of May.

Corypha australis. — A noble Australian palm, [Livistona australis] over 30 ft. high in its native country, and forming a very effective subject for the subtropical garden in summer, from June till October. The leaves are nearly circular, often more than 5 ft. broad, of a dark green colour, very much plaited, and divided round the edge into narrow segments, and supported by spiny leaf- stalks, from 6t ft. to nearly 10 ft. long. It requires abundance of water, and should have a warm, sunny, and sheltered position. Few places, however, can afford to have subjects of this character in the open air, except where there are large conservatories, in which it is a relief to get more room in summer.

Jubaea spectabilis. — A very handsome, hardy S. American palm, with a short, arboreous, smooth stem, which sometimes attains a height of nearly 40 ft., and spreading pinnate leaves, of a full, deep-green colour, and from 6 ft. to 1 2 ft. long, the leaflets being from 1 ft. to it ft. long and about ah inch wide, springing in pairs from nearly the same spot, and standing out in different directions. The leaf-stalks are very thick at the base, where they are enclosed in a dense mass of rough, brown fibres, which grow upon their lower edges. The soil for this plant should be a mixture of two parts of rich loam and two parts composed of peat, leaf-mould, and sand. This exists in the open air throughout the winter, near London, but not in such a condition as to encourage many to try it in this way. Grown in tubs in the conservatory in winter, and placed in the open air in summer, it will prove very satisfactory for association with the hardier palms.

Latania borbonica. — A well-known, hardy, and favourite palm, [Livistona chinensis - the true Latania borbonica is a tropical palm, name misapplied here] attaining a height of 25 ft., with large, fan-shaped leaves, over 5 ft. broad, of a cheerful green colour, and with pendent marginal segments. The leaf-stalks are over 4 ft. or 5 ft. long, and are armed at the edges for half their length with short reflexed spines. May be placed in the open air about London and southward in sunny dells in summer, and is a fine warm-conservatory or stove ornament in winter.

Phoenix dactylifera (Date Palm). — A handsome palm with a rugged stem, and pinnate dark-green leaves from 6 ft. to 12 ft. long; the divisions linear-lance-shaped, very much pointed, and standing out quite straight. Easily increased from seed. Suitable for the greenhouse in winter and the open garden in summer, from the end of May till the beginning of October. Africa and India.

SEAFORTHIA ELEGANS. Conservatory Palm ; standing well in the open air in summer.
[Illustration from W. Robinson The Subtropical Garden]

Seaforthia elegans. — One of the most beautiful of the Palm family, [Archontophoenix cunninghamiana - the true Seaforthia was not generally known - see posting for explanation of mix up by Hooker ] from the northern parts of Australia, where it attains a height of about 30 ft., but in this country seldom arrives at more than half its full size. The leaves are from 2 ft. to 10 ft. in length, and are divided into numerous narrow leaflets from 1 ft. to 1 and a half ft. long, and of a dark green colour. The whole plant is perfectly smooth, and is one of the finest subjects in cultivation for the conservatory, greenhouse, or sub-tropical garden. It may be placed in the open air from the middle or end of May until the beginning of October. It is too scarce as yet to be procurable by horticulturists generally, but should be looked for by all who take an interest in these matters and have a house in which to grow it. It stands well in the conservatory during the winter, though generally kept in the stove, where of course it grows beautifully. There are hardier kinds — the dwarf Fan-palm for example — but on the whole none of them are so valuable as this.


Greenfingers said...

It was been a mouthful but I do hope you could post some picture in regard to the plants you were referring to. But I appreciate this topic. Just a bit of adjustment with pics or videos and it will be awesome. Thanks for sharing buddy!

Gerald Luckhurst said...

This is an excerpt of text from William Robinson's book on sub-tropical gardening, published in 1871. Posted last night I have still to work on this - will post links to photos. The names of the palms are largely out of date. One of the things that I am working on is providing links to current botanical names.