GARDENING: CQ’s beautiful big palms

There is definitely something about an avenue of palms.

You only have to look at the impressive frame the Bismarck Palms create at the entrance at Rockhampton Airport or the stately line of Royal Palms in Musgrave Street.

I received an old fashioned letter this week with a request to help with some advice as to what could be the best palms to be used for an entrance to a family property.

The property is located between Rockhampton and Gladstone. The new home is positioned on a small rise from the farm gate and about 450m in length. Plus the location has never experienced winter frost.

So this week’s column features my preferred tall growing palms that are very hardy and should from a feature in the future.

Archontophoenix alexandrae
Archontophoenix alexandrae

Archontophoenix alexandrae or Alexander Palm is a slender tropical palm with a silver reverse to the fronds.

It can be grown in the full sun, but prefers a moist, shaded situation.

Growing 6m or more with a thin graceful trunk in the garden, the best appearance is obtained when they are planted in a clump of three or more.

It also makes an excellent tub specimen for a courtyard or indoor use. Water well and fertilise regularly.

Bismarckia nobilis
Bismarckia nobilis

Bismarckia nobilis or Bismarck palm is one of the most attractive and waterwise palm varieties that can be grown in this region.

This magnificent fan palm, with its attractive blue-grey foliage, is a native of Madagascar. This is not a palm for small gardens, in open areas and allowed to grow properly, it will reach a width of 3m across and eventually get quite tall.

While this palm variety has not been properly utilised as a landscape feature in this region, Rockhampton City Council has started to use them on road medians.

In particular, the display adjacent to the Rockhampton Shopping Fair is starting to create among local gardeners.

Dypsis decaryi
Dypsis decaryi

Dypsis decaryi or Triangular Palm is fast growing palm that is native to Madagascar.

It can be easily recognised by its bluish-grey, triangular shaped trunk.

The Triangular Palm’s ability to grow in all soil types and tolerate hot and dry conditions has made it one of the most popular palms available to home gardeners.

Livistona australis
Livistona australis

Livistona australis or The Cabbage Tree Palm is a tall growing palm with large glossy green fan shaped leaves with little spikes going down frond.

Livistona australis thrives in a part shade position but still can grow in full sun.

It prefers moist, organically-rich soils or well-drained soil and is tolerant to salt, frost and windy conditions.

Livistona australis can be found naturally growing along the coastal ranges from northern Queensland to Southern Victoria.

Livistona decipiens
Livistona decipiens

Livistona decipiens or Weeping Cabbage Palm is an attractive palm with light green drooping finely divided fronds with long trailing ends to them, giving the plant a beautiful weeping form.

This outstanding palm is a native to the Blackdown Tablelands.

It has attractive 2m long sprays of cream flowers in summer.

It grows in the semi-shade in an average to moist position and makes an excellent pot specimen.

Phoenix canariensis
Phoenix canariensis

Phoenix canariensis or Canary Island Date Palm has been grown in Western Queensland for more than a century.

This hardy formal palm can grow to more than 12m tolerating hot dry conditions, poor soils and frost.

The showy arching light green fronds have sharp spines at the base.

The Canary Island Date Palm bares clusters small yellow flowers followed by orange inedible fruits.

Ptychosperma elegans
Ptychosperma elegans

Ptychosperma elegans or Solitaire Palm is a slender palm with large dark green broad fronds is the beautiful palm around the Rockhampton Art Gallery.

It grows 4 - 5m high, and around 3m across, in shady moist positions.

Flowers are green in large sprays and fruits are red.

Ptychosperma elegans make an excellent plant indoors and as a pot plant, or for a sheltered garden position.

Roystonia regia
Roystonia regia

Roystonia Regia or Royal Palm or Cuban Royal Palm would be the most stately of all palms.

With its magnificent self-cleaning, smooth grey trunk, it makes an excellent avenue palm. However, being a large palm, it also has fronds up to 3m long that can do a lot of damage when they fall.

While this palm may not be suitable for small gardens or high use areas, for those gardeners with a large block of land, this palm will give you the perfect tropical outlook.

Washingtonia robusta
Washingtonia robusta

Washingtonia robusta or Cotton Palm is a tall growing palm that has become an photographic icon of the Californian beach movie skyline.

This palm has large fan like fronds with remnant threads of foliage that appear like ‘cotton’ hanging from between frond segments.

Rather than dropping off the dead leaves fold down against the trunk giving it a dense skirt. The Cotton Palm is easy to grow in well-drained soil in full sun to partial sun and is tolerant to drought, wind and salt.

Wodyetia bifurcate
Wodyetia bifurcate

Wodyetia bifurcate or Foxtail Palm is a palm native palm to the Iron Range in Cape York has become one of the most easily recognised palms, with its feathery-leaved palm fronds and self-cleaning trunk.

It is an ideal feature in any home garden, growing to between 6 and 8m in an average garden. Though best grown in a warm sheltered position, I have seen this palm growing in formal plantings a garden on a property in the Bauhinia district in Central Queensland, and doing exceptionally well.

The collection of the seed of this palm caused quite some controversy in the early 1990s.

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