Dead Palm Trees

It seems Ireland took what can only be described as a great battering by the elements over the course of the last 18 months. The country aside, the after affects in the plant department are still extremely evident and in particular what we know as the seaside range of plants including palm trees and grass plants seems to have been hit worst.

Many people I have spoke to have held off in the hope that the plant may return… but as I have said before one cannot make a plant cell un-dead. That said, I was very surprised in one garden I was in recently to see this….

The two most common types of plants that I have seen hit in Irish gardens are that of the Cordyline [usually Cordyline australis] and also the Phormium. Others have included the Phoenix carienensis, the Dicksonia antartica and also, though not as bad en mass the Trachycarpis.

What has happened in a few cases is that the plant has started to give sprouts from the base. The Cordyline will usually do this anyway, but this normally happens part way up its main trunk when its growth pattern is going as it normally should, which is great if you want to take its height down a level and let the side shoot take over as leader.

The question I guess is do you want to wait to see if yours will send out some shoots and if like this one it has… do you want to wait for them to re-develop back into the tree it maybe once was and maybe might become again.

Your Garden Advice

I get asked a lot of garden related questions. Some, some may agree with, some there may just be a better way of doing it. I don’t mind that in so far as I know I will give my best at that time. I am also aware that some of my advice/ answers are starting to become patterns in that others are experiencing the same or similar problems, so this on the other hand is a little of a time saver for me. With that in mind and also that it may creat discussion I have decided to publish them. It won’t or may be a weekly thing. Just whenever there are enough to make it a post. I’ll even try and date them from now on.

These are just some that I could find to hand that I’ve replied to since Sunday.

Tree Advice:

I was just browsing your website and was admiring your work. I was interested in the trees you have planted in the image 63 of 140 in the image gallery. What type are they, betula utilis jacquemontii?
…… However, what safe distance from a 100mm solid block garden wall do you think is ok for the type of tree that you used.
I would have a distance of up to 900mm to the centre of the trunk from the wall.
I hope you don’t mind this random request for advice as a lot of advice on the internet is very conflicting.

To this I replied:

thanks for the compliment. The trees in question are indeed Betula utilis ‘Jacquemontii’. Very well spotted.
My opinion on the distance is a firm no, in short. It can be done and might work out fine. I can also understand the varying answers, but without even seeing the garden or foundations for the wall – its the distance and the eventual height the tree wants to grow…. it seems to me a mild case of keeping a tiger in a back garden – as versus a poodle. I know, a very bad analogy, but you get my point. More than that it is a very tasty choice in tree and one that comes with a price tag to match. If the question be would I invest my money, to put it into a space [distance] of that you have described – then the answer would be no.
Re the internet, you are 110% correct re the conflicting advice.
But then my grandmother did grow a lemon tree from a pip in what I can only describe as the windiest courtyard walled in on all four sides on dublins southside. According to the rule books, that should not happen. 🙂
No problem re the random request.

I got this response:

Thank you very much for your prompt response. Says a lot about how you view your business.
Anyhow. I will take your good advice, although the wall is new and I witnessed the foundations being poured. They are over 300mm wide and deep. Would be planting between granite slabs and I know the roots of these trees can be shallow too.
Pity, as they are a very tasty tree, as you said.

I replied:

speaking as Peter… I’d love to see you not take my advice simply just to see a beaut like that planted.
Some will say its fine. Some wont. But, if I am being asked in writing [*coughs so it sound all very official] then I’d have to say no. And in writing I’d be correct.
I do agree though, shame.
On a seperate note: doing a garden recentlty and a clients son asked why I followed Arsenal. In a similar light, absolutely stunning, beautiful to watch but…. 🙂
Have a great day and sorry for the fact that you aren’t going ahead.

Plant I.D.

Hi Peter apparently a very old flower!! But we don’t know the name! Any idea? Cheers

I replied:

looks like aquilegia, i’m reckoning the Aquilegia buergeriana 🙂

Tree Advice:

last december i got a pine tree, i coulnt plant it due to snow and frozen ground, the pine was in the same pot as i bought her in till march gone,  i noticed a couple of the branches turning brown, and i figured its about time i plant the pine, so i did, and well watered it and gave the pine some tree food, and watered her every day, the last few weeks she is turning completely brown except for the inner middle, have u any suggestions as to what i can, can she be saved.

I replied

is there any chance of a few photgraphs. also i wonder if this recent spell of warm weather had brought on some buds. my own weeping ash has only started producing hers in the last week or so. Been a tough 18 months for the poor fellows.

Thanks for your reply, I have attached some photos, you will be able to see that the inside is staying green, which gives me hope, have you any suggestions.

[note: I cannot locate the images but suffice to say it was entirely brown]

I replied:

I dont know if I’ve replied to this – but you are still in my inbox. this is the second time – would you believe to answer almost the exact same question. And sorry for the delay but the sun shine was keeping me quite busy 🙂
So here’s what I said and the exact same story applies to you too…..
In short, the tree may come back and there may as it seems be signs of life within. The key would be to remove all dead wood – or wood that is brown the entire way through. If you are unsure simply cut back until you hit a point of where the wood will not snap as versus bend and also there should be some signs of sap or green within. The tree may look disastrous after as a result but – the tree shouldn’t be trying to put energy into what is dead wood.
The reality is that the trees have simply had a double bad beating of the minus celcius elements over the last 18 months and some have simply suffered badly or just passed on. Would I fertilise ? No.
This is, based on the images the best advice I can give having I suppose not really seen the tree in person. that said, based on what you’ve told me I’m not far off the mark.

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If any more come in and are answered between now and Saturday night. I’ll update the post and simply pop them in here.

The Sodcast – Episode 26

sodshow, garden podcast

The Sodshow Garden Podcast – every Friday – in iTunes, all good podcast stores.

Listen to The Sodcast in MP3 – or subscribe/ listen to the podcast in iTunes. Alternatively, subscribe to the blog and listen to them right here. Missed Episode 25 of the garden podcast ?

First Up:

The above image from Bernie Goldbach listening to the garden podcast via his telephone 😉

You can contact me in the following ways:

Recently On The Blog:

Links For The Podcast:

Find out more about Kevin [left], Donal [right] & the Harrys restaurant garden project via

Harrys Restaurant is located at Bridgend, Inishowen. That’s in County Donegal for those that wouldn’t be too up on their Irish Geography – and it’s open daily From 12pm til late. I recommend daylight hours if you are going for a look at the garden 😉 further info at

Why Harrys ? I asked on twitter for anyone who had plants of any amount as part or even outside their restaurant and John Ward of responded to me. I’d have done the same for someone with a few planters being very honest.

Images For The Podcast:

The above images are Philips garden 2 weeks ago and the Sunday just gone.

This Weeks Oddities:

courtesy of Rosanne from The IIA – wearable planters

Bernie Goldbach reminds me about – making a living as a garden designer

Spains largest vertical garden cleans the air inside the office building – thanks to Angel Luis

Remember The St Brigids Cross saga ? In short, there were no reeds available to make them with. Mary never got any – but came up with an alternate.

And Finally:

The Sodcast – Episode 25

sodshow, garden podcast

The Sodshow Garden Podcast – every Friday – in iTunes, all good podcast stores.

Listen to The Sodcast in MP3 – or subscribe/ listen to the podcast in iTunes. Alternatively, subscribe to the blog and listen to them right here. Missed Episode 24 of the garden podcast ?

First Up:

You can contact me in the following ways:

What happened to Episode 24 of The Sodcast in iTunes ?? I don’t honestly know. I’ve spoke to some of the finest audio people in the business and after a similar, but not as lengthy delay, as of today it still hasn’t appeared….

Never mind, you can always get it here and more important than all that techie 3 pin plug jazz…

This Sunday is the Garden Groups first outing of 2011 – Personally I can’t wait 😀

Recently On The Blog:

No Rushes available ?

Links For The Podcast:


Images For The Podcast:

This Weeks Oddities:

Blacksmithing Courses, Castleview Mills, Clonakilty, Co. Cork. Tel. 087 9170301 / 087 6168032

This course is aimed at students with little or no experience of blacksmithing. Run over 2 days with the objective of making a traditional fire tongs and poker.

Using the anvil, Managing a fire, Drawing out, Scrolling, Twisting, Bending, Upsetting &  Riveting

Courses run from 9:00am to 5:00pm on the following dates:

Thurs/Fri 4th/5th Feb – Fri/Sat 18th/19th Feb – Fri/Sat 25th/26th March – Fri/Sat 15th/16th April – Fri/Sat 06th 07th May – Fri/Sat 10th/11th June

Good to hear of you again and well done especially on the garden group outings – great idea. I was out in Corkagh Park this morning and when I came back in and read about your tours – I thought why not contact Peter and remind him of South Dublin parks. There is a wonderful pet farm in Corkagh now as well as a rose garden and put and take fishery. I always wish I could stay there for a longer period.
Let me know if you need any further information
Take care
Controlling priority invasive non-native plants and restoring native biodiversity (CIRB) project – launching Tuesday February 1st – well worth a read is

The CIRB project (Controlling invasive priority non-native species and restoring native biodiversity) is funded by INTERREG IVA and is being undertaken by a partnership of Queens University Belfast, the Rivers and Fisheries Trusts of Scotland, University of Ulster and Inland Fisheries Ireland.

The project aims to demonstrate that a prioritised suite of invasive species namely, giant hogweed, rhododendron, Japanese knotweed and Himalayan balsam can be controlled or eradicated strategically on a catchment scale.  Biosecurity strategies will be developed and implemented to prevent reintroduction of these species to the catchments.  The impact of these species and the control programme on ecosystem services will also be investigated and the economic benefits of control programmes demonstrated.

CIRB will contribute to halting biodiversity loss in Ireland, Northern Ireland and western Scotland by preventing further impacts on native biodiversity by riparian invasive species through the development and demonstration of effective control methods, a programme of stakeholder engagement, research, policy development and dissemination.

The project will take place in three catchments in the border regions of Ireland (Faughan, Newry/Clanrye and Dee/Glyde) and 4 areas in Scotland (Argyll, Ayrshire, Galloway and the Tweed).

And Finally:

Brown & Black Leaves ?

In north Dublin last week I recorded temperatures just over -8 celcius and although the wind chill factor was something a lot greater than that, with the recent weather and the subsequent thaw….what one can see now is [maybe] mildly uncertain regarding what plants have survived the minus temperatures due to the fact that a lot are at present leafless and dormant.

A plants cells are made up essentially of water and in extreme conditions that water in the plant cells expands resulting in the cells bursting. The bit that’s important to you, the plant owner, is that once the plant cell has burst it is dead – and – put very simply beyond resurrection.

The question is how far or how much of the plant is actually dead, if it has just burnt some of the leaves or it has actually made it’s way into the ‘heart’ of the plant. For this there’s really no one definitive answer, but [for example] for my own bay laurel hedge [above] I’ll simply cut out the brown and work my way down the stems until I can only see green. It may well look a bit sparse and patchy after, but it’ll come back for next season. Smaller and younger plants may not have been so fortunate.

My advice is to get out into the garden and have a good rustle through the aftermath and give each plant a good close up inspection. In fear of a frost return you may consider mulching around the base of your plants which will aid them that little bit better – and – they will thank you for it come the new year.

Unsure if one of your plants has survived [?] you can contact me in the following ways…

See the image above…. this is [image below] the exact same hedge plant just 7 days ago.