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A Lovely Day Spent Whacking Privet

I'm planting palmettos to screen the dump that came with our land.

My friend Pete and I spent the day clearing around a ravine that the previous owners filled in with garbage.

As the dump has settled, the lay of the land has become evident again.  It’s beautiful terrain.

Like most distrubed sites in the South, it is being claimed by Chinese Privet.

We eradicated enough privet to make a righteous burning pile.

Then to partially screen the dump, I planted 18 home grown gallon sized palmettos.

Most people would wait and landscape the dump when they were through with everything else.

Palmetto – The gift that keeps on giving!

Boona with snow covered palmetto and Florida leucothoe

I’ve got a native palmetto (Sabal minor) right by my front door.   It’s probably been there for close to 20 years.

Like most plants in the front garden it suffered a severe beating during Katrina.  It took another major hit after Katrina when the huge pine (with 30 inches+ diameter) that was about 8′ away had to be removed.   After the pine was gone it lost its customary shady exposure.  It has bounced back from everything.

With great age, a palmetto will develop a short trunk.  Mine has a little stubby trunk about a foot tall that is covered in old leaf stalks.  Each leaf is 5 to 6 feet tall and about 3 feet wide.

I  planted it by the front entrance because I knew it would tolerate horrible soil and dry shade.  Also because large leaves = coarse texture = accent plant.  The dramatic leaves look tropical in summer and very striking when covered by frost.  I have heard them described as “light catchers”.  They seem to magnify the sunlight in early morning and late afternoon when the sun is low in the sky.

In late spring my palmetto produces a tall stalk of tiny white orchid-like flowers.  In early winter I often collect the black berry-like fruit and grow a crop of seedlings.

The seedlings are painfully slow growers (hence the expense if you buy a palmetto from a nursery).  I have a crop of about 20 in my little nursery.  They are 4 or 5 years old and still in gallon pots.  I have plans to plant them in a disturbed area recently cleared of privet to screen a garbage dump that I purchased along with the land.  I’ll post some before and after pictures when that project comes to fruition.

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