Friday, May 21, 2010

New Acquisitions: Rhapidophyllum hystrix and Magnolia stellata 'Centennial'

Having returned to Michigan for the summer - or at least for the first weeks of my summer break - I finally got back to gardening in my parents' yard over the last two days. Besides doing a lot of weeding and some mulching, I also began putting in some new plants and there are two I am particularly excited about. The first is a needle palm (Rhapidophyllum hystrix), a species of palm native to the Southeastern United States which is supposedly hardy to Zone 6a.

 The young needle palm (Rhapidophyllum hystrix)

The tag that came with the palm

 The little palm in its new location in the border on the south side of the house

I came across this little treasure at a local Walmart in Rochester Hills, Michigan, where, among masses of the usual impatiens, petunias, yews, and burning bushes, I found a handful of palms of species one hardly ever sees in nurseries around here. Besides Rhapidophyllum hystrix, there was a young Trachycarpus fortunei, and a silver-leafed cultivar of Chamaerops humilis, most likely Chamaerops humilis var. cerifera. At $18, they were quite moderately priced, especially as out-of-the-ordinary plants usually go at most local garden centers and nurseries. Hence I decided to give the needle palm a try; I planted it in the sunny border at the front of the house right next to my clump of Musa basjoo, so that it should be possible to protect them in winter with a single structure of dry leaves and burlap.
The other major new acquisition is a nice star magnolia (Magnolia stellata 'Centennial') which my mom and I found on sale at English Gardens, a local garden center. Originally priced at $59.99, it was on sale for $14.99. I planted it in an island bed in the backyard, where it should add both much-needed height and early spring interest.

The magnolia as it came from the store

The tag on the magnolia

My Magnolia stellata 'Centennial' in its new spot, freshly mulched

Hopefully I will be able to make more additions in the coming weeks...My parents moved into this new house last summer and even though we transplanted much from the old house, there are still plenty of beds to be filled ...


  1. That Rhapidophyllum tag is a little over the top. :) Does that one already have the large spines on the main trunk. I'm a little afraid of buying one because I can be a bit clumsy at times. Does it seem like a realistic hazard?

  2. It is indeed... :)
    The spines on the trunk are beginning to form but they are still relatively small since the plant is so young and they are also quite flexible, so I do not think they would be a serious hazard. When I was planting it I was much more worried about the Opuntia humifusa I use as edging in that bed.
    Thanks for following the blog!


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