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Sunday, 19 April 2009

Number One Fan

My other passion besides gardening is making films and for the past few years I’ve been making the annual pilgrimage to Cannes. After a week of intensive film watching, non-stop networking, and wild parties, it’s good to take a day out to appreciate some of the surrounding countryside. One of the treats for me is to see the dwarf fan palms that grow wild at the side of the road.
Chamaerops humilis is the only palm native to Europe and it’s one of the toughest, tolerating high winds, periods of drought and sub-zero conditions. With its handsome evergreen fan-shaped leaves, it has to be the number one palm for London gardens. Growing well in clay or chalk, it’s a good architectural plant for a sunny border. But for me, it’s as a container plant on balconies, roof gardens, and patios, where it truly surpasses.

It’s slow growing so start with a decent-sized plant. They rarely grow above head height, especially in pots. Use a John Innes compost to give extra weight and stability and water very sparingly when the days start to get colder.

Am I ever tempted to bring one back from France? No, taking these magnificent plants from the wild is not right. Garden centres and nurseries offer plenty of specimens born and bred the UK. Bringing home the Palme d’Or, well that’s another matter. I’m working on it.
Written By Alistiar Ayres
(We agree with Alistair. Choice of compost is so important, especially in container gardening. We at Little Green Space, pay a lot of attention to detail in this regard especially for our ready planted window boxes. Love from the little green space ladybird)

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