Friday, August 31, 2012

Beautiful big leaves of the white elephant palm.

One of the attractions of Kerriodoxa elegans, the white elephant palm, is its huge round leaves. They are green above and whitish-silver below and can stretch across several feet. They are held up on dark brown/black petioles that arise straight from the ground. Originating in the understory of Thai rainforests in and near Phuket, this palm loves shade and protection from wind.

My anxiety over hurricanes increases at this time every year, and so annually I try to photograph everything in the garden, thinking these may be the last images of what takes years to produce. And the big-leafed aroids as well as the Kerriodoxa are right up there on my worry list. Yet, protected by the canopies of a lychee and an ancient Haden mango, and surrounded by crotons and arecas, the aroids and the palm did just fine during Isaac.

Of course, a stronger storm may have different results and even when I think ‘I cannot do this over again,’ I will.

After two days of wind and rain, we sprayed the orchids with Banrot, a systemic fungicide. Most of them rested in the ground beneath their orchid house benches, so this was a precaution. The bed of Heliconia rostrata had to be untangled and thinned, and the ae-ae banana required staking, but we were lucky this time.

To have on hand for the next storm threat: fungicide (Captan, Kocide and Dithane M 45 are contact fungicides; Banrot and Subdue are systemic), stakes, rope, extra shade cloth, gloves and pruning equipment. And a stout heart that says, “I can start again.”