Sunday, June 29, 2008

A Humungous Green Leaf

Emma at A Nice Green Leaf had the brilliant idea of focusing on foliage instead of flowers on 30 June with a celebration entitled The Big Green Leaf. I love flowers, but I always fall harder for foliage. I'm not sure why. Perhaps it's the result of gardening in London, which makes one so aware of year-round visual appeal, and contrasting shapes, and plants that screen you from the rest of the world, and things that do well in shade, such as ferns and Fatsia japonica. One of the great benefits of living in London, however, is that you can take advantage of the big-city greenhouse effect to grow things that might prove more challenging in the countryside. In my case, this has led to growing Even Bigger Green Leaves, such as hardy bananas (Musa basjoo) and Tetrapanax papyrifera. I protect the bananas in winter with fleece, but the tetrapanax is left to take its chance. I also have a couple of tree ferns, Dicksonia antarctica, but I don't wrap them up either. I leave any browned fronds on until I see the new growth, just to give them a bit of protection. Indeed, the trickiest plants in my garden are the Japanese maples, which don't like very dry conditions. In the summer of 2003 they really suffered, so last year's non-stop deluge from June to August was good news as far as they were concerned.

The spectacular leaves of Washingtonia filifera . It's growing in a pot, in a very sheltered position against a south-facing fence