The second of our series, and what a hard act to follow the majestic olive is.
We focus on Pseudopanax here. Not everyone’s cup of tea but architecturally striking plants, the majority of which are from New Zealand. The most unusual defy convention and almost appear ‘man-made’!… like no other plants we have ever come across.
They certainly win the award for originality. Whilst beauty is in the eye of the beholder, it is the plant enthusiast who opts for the most quirky and unusual who is likely to find Pseudopanax a thing of beauty – rather than a middle of the road type who enjoys a traditional shape, lush foliage and ‘pretty’ flowers.
Pseudopanax crassifolius (neatly described by an article in the Telegraph a few years back) is one of the most alien-like, described as ‘bizarre looking’ on our website, with leathery lance-like foliage. Like most Pseudopanax it is still fairly rare in cultivation outside its native home, but the generally mild, damp micro-climate found near the coast in Cornwall bears resemblance to its New Zealand habitat, making it a suitable growing spot, (assuming it’s blessed with the correct drainage and sympathetic shelter during severe temperatures – now seemingly becoming less of an anomaly year on year).
Pseudopanax ferox – the toothed lancewood, is another unique specimen – with jagged edged, downward pointing leaves. This variety, rarer in the wild, only begins to look more conventional as it reaches a certain level of maturity, when its leaves become shorter and greener and it develops a tall, clear trunk . Even then, it never totally says goodbye to its ‘odd’ label, and it still remains very much a part of this unique family of plants…. capable of dividing opinion.
Unquestionably hated by some, but with an ability to also generate admiration and bewilderment that far exceeds that of any other plant collection!