In The Garden: Palms spring at the nursery

In The Garden with Jo McGarry of Caragh Nurseries

In The Garden: Palms spring at the nursery

File photo

Like any other business, we are constantly striving to improve and adapt and have recently undertaken some exciting new projects here at Caragh Nurseries.

One of these has been the addition of our new Palm House and I am delighted to be able to share with you some photos and information on the types of palms and tropical plants we currently have available and that fare well here in Ireland.

Trachycarpus Fortunei has proved to be an exceptionally hardy and tolerant palm. It will grow pretty well anywhere but to keep it looking in tip-top condition try to plant the Chusan palm in a moist but well-drained soil in good sun or part shade and, most importantly, out of the wind.

When happy it will grow 30cm or more of trunk in a season. Branched heads of flowers are produced in early summer, adding to the exotic effect.

Ideal for creating a tropical looking garden space, the Mediterranean Fan Palm (Chamaerops Humilis) is quite hardy, particularly in the south and coastal areas, adding a lush exotic feel to any garden. The silvery-green leaves stay on the palm all year round, giving great texture and structure.

Best placed in full sun, away from harsh winds, it is a great addition to a Mediterranean-style garden, and can be grown in a container located in a bright, frost-free spot for the winter.

It will do well in any well-drained soil, grows quite slowly and needs little attention apart from cutting off any dead or damaged leaves. Eventually, it will form a well defined trunk.

The Blue Mediterranean Fan Palm (Chamaerops Humilis Cerifera) is a stunning blue/grey coloured palm and a striking addition to your garden, It is almost as variable as the plain species in terms of colour, habit and size. They are similarly robust, taking, when established, any degree of drought or wind and are if anything, slightly more hardy to cold than their plain green cousins. They are perfect companion plants for the hardier succulents like the Yucca. Choose a position in full sun for best colour.

Native to the Canary Islands, the Phoenix Canariensis grows in the wilds throughout the islands but the largest can be found in La Gomera measuring as high as 66ft tall. Don’t worry - this isn’t going to grow as big in your garden. During the autumn, creamy-yellow flowers will bloom from the palm, followed by reddish-yellow fruits. It is commonly called the Canary Islands Palm or the Date Palm.

A real relic from the dinosaur age, Cycas Revoluta really does look like a lush prehistoric forest plant, but makes a wonderful textural and architectural plant that is easy to grow. Commonly called the Sago palm, it is a member of a very old type of plant called a Cycad.

It is not as frost hardy as some of the palms so will need protecting from harder frosts. It looks perhaps a little more like a fern, but the tough fronds are much more rigid. Very slow growing, it slowly forms a trunk over years.

The Yucca Rostrata or Beaked Yucca is a tall, attractive Yucca, bearing a crown of narrow, silver blue, sword-shaped leaves in contrast to a creamy white bark. Tall clusters of white flowers appear in summer, which may develop into fruit in milder regions. It is such a unique shaped Yucca – a real favourite around here! It’s perfect for growing in exotic planting schemes.

Younger specimens may be grown in a pot but are best planted in the ground as it gets that bit bigger as it can grow up to three metres tall with time. Grow Yucca Rostrata in well-drained soil in full sun. Remove dead leaves for tidiness, but otherwise there’s no need to prune. Although hardy, it may need winter protection in sharper frosts.

The Cordyline Australis is one of the easiest exotics to grow. It looks very like a palm, but actually it isn’t. Tall and single or multiple trunked, it has rosettes of long, sword shaped olive-green leaves. Its white flowers are beautifully fragrant. Salt and wind tolerant, it is great for coastal positions. Cold hardy down to -8/9 degrees and evergreen, it gives great architectural interest to your garden throughout the whole year and is great for growing in pots too although over time they can get big. Although it is very slow growing we do have some larger specimens too.

Cordyline australis ‘Torbay Dazzler’ is a particularly lovely cabbage palm, bearing sword-shaped leaves with green and cream stripes. It’s perfect for growing in pots or as part of a mixed herbaceous border, particularly in tropical planting schemes it will grow into a small tree. Mature plants produce branches of sweet-smelling, ivory-white flowers in summer, which are extremely attractive to bees. Its autumn berries are a favourite for birds.

Cordyline Pink Champagne is a green-leaved Cordyline, despite the name, with narrow, upright leaves of pale green edged in white and blushed pink near the base — looking a bit sun splashed. It is a newer selection which does well in coastal locations as well as inland, and is reasonably drought resistant and tough. Not a large Cordyline, it grows to approx 60-80cm.

After all that tropicalness (is that a word?) normal service will be resumed next week as we embark on our rootballed season - so we will be talking all things hedging and trees. If you have any questions send them to

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