Pied Beauty

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889)

Glory be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:

Praise him.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Palm Trees: A Surprising Recovery

After the freezes in December 2009 and January 2010, many of us mourned the loss of palm trees all over the city.  The fan palms seemed to weather the cold, but the finer-textured palms, like Queen Palms and Pygmy Date Palms, seemed like goners.  They lost their foliage entirely and for months remained leafless and sad.

But now that the weather is hot, day and night, even some of these tropical palm trees have begun to leave out, much to my surprise and relief.  Some newly planted palms certainly died in the cold, but many of the well-established ones seem to be recovering.  Depending on the damage they sustained, it's still possible for even green palms to die this summer, especially if they are stressed by drought.  But I am much encouraged by the sight of all those green fronds!

(On the left: February 7.  On the right: July 4)

Some palms didn't die of exposure, though:  they died from improper pruning.  The "heart" of a palm, the growing tip or meristem, is at the top of the trunk, where the fronds emerge.  Some people were a tad aggressive when removing brown fronds -- they cut the palm too low and inadvertently removed the palm's heart.  These trees will not recover.  Palms typically cannot regenerate the heart and have only limited ability to regenerate tissue along the trunk.

This pygmy date palm is regrowing from the roots because the top was so badly damaged.

Next winter, protect this growing tip by wrapping it or tying the foliage up and around the top of the trunk.  Make sure that the palm isn't under any environmental stress going into winter by providing sufficient water and fertilizer designed specifically for palm trees.

This queen palm was planted in the summer of 2009 and not properly watered.  It was young and stressed when the cold weather blew in and it doesn't look like it's going to make it.

Did you lose your tropical palms (or give up on them too soon?)  Download a list of palms that are suitable for growing here, in zone 9A.

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