Palm trees on a Vanuatu beach.
Palm trees on a Vanuatu beach.

GARDENING: Get the tropical look with palms

EVEN in the dry times there is something about the tropical beauty of a cluster of palms.

Last week I received a ­request from a new homeowner in Cawarral who wanted to create a Palm Valley-type landscape and asked if I had ever written a gardening column featuring tall growing palms.

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

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 and get quite tall.

While this palm variety has not been properly used 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 awareness among local gardeners.

Dypsis decaryi or Triangular Palm is a fast-growing palm native to Madagascar. It can be easily recognised by its bluish-grey, triangular-shaped trunk.


Dypsis decaryi palm.
Dypsis decaryi palm.


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


Phoenix canariensis palm.
Phoenix canariensis palm.


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 bears clusters of small yellow flowers followed by orange inedible fruit.

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

Roystonia regia palm.
Roystonia regia palm.


With its magnificent self-cleaning, smooth grey trunk, it makes an excellent Ave 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 look.

Wodyetia bifurcate or Foxtail Palm is native to the Iron Range in Cape York and 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 6m and 8m in an average garden.

Though best grown in a warm sheltered position, I have seen this palm growing in formal plantings in 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.


Even though we are moving into the warmer months, there are several annuals and vegetables that can be planted now.

Annuals: Amaranthus, Aster, Balsam, Begonia, Carnation, Celosia, Chrysanthemum, Cockscombe, Coleus, Cosmos, Dianthus, Gazania, Gerbera, Marigold, Petunia, Portulaca, Salvia and Verbena

Vegetables: Beans, Beetroot, Silver Beet, Cabbage, Capsicum, Carrot, Celery, Choko, Cucumber, Egg Plant, Herbs, Melon, Squash, Pumpkin Rosella, Sweet Corn Tomato and Zucchini.

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