Thursday, 1 July 2010


While we were in Newquay, one scent kept invading our olfactory lobes. a sweet, flowery scent wafted in the breeze, making us look around to try to locate the source of this pleasant odour. It turned out to be the millions of flowers belonging to the Cabbage Trees (Cordyline australis), otherwise known as Cabbage Palms or Torquay Palms. We have one in our own garden, which has flowered for the first time this year.
Native to New Zealand, this has become a popular addition to many gardens in Britain, especially those in the milder climate of the south. Their popularity stems from the fact that they look like true Palm trees and therefore add a little 'exotica' to our shores. They are hardy and produce between 5000 and 10000 flowers on each inflorescence. The flowers are quite long lasting and attract birds and insects to pollinate them. These are followed by fruits which are eaten in huge numbers by birds. The fruits, of course, contain the seeds - between 3 and 6 in each fruit. A large tree can produce up to a million seeds in a good year. Lets hope our tree produces plenty of seeds, so we can grow some more and have more wonderfully scented flowers in the Summer.
Any gardener will tell you that Mignonette also has a wonderful fragrance which can pervade your garden on warm, still Summer evenings. The wild form of this garden plant however, has no such rich scent. The Wild Mignonette (Reseda lutea) which are flowering around Shipley Park right now, have a slight fragrance if you get close enough, but is, frankly, not in the same league as the garden cultivar. Still good to look at though!
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