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Palms in your garden

These days gardens embracing the modern Tuscan style are ever more frequent. But many are still sceptical that these southern plants can handle local unstable Summer weather, let alone the vagaries of the Northern European winter.

"No problem", responds Hendrik Speet, from Twist in North West Germany. The gardener took over a rose-nursery at the Dutch-German border in 2009 with his Dutch colleague, Herbert Riphagen, and turned it into a nursery for palm trees. Here the firm Gardenpalms Europe Plc was established. Together with six seasonal workers they currently care for around 300000 palm trees under around 20000m2 of greenhouses. Approximately 3600 different species of Palm are cultivated, imported and sold wholesale. "Huge numbers of palms arrive here from auctions and are allowed to acclimatise every year". Only then are they considered fit for resale. "So having a palm in your garden should be a reality, not a dream", says the 28 year-old. "Palms just need the right sort of care"". For example, he does not recommend keeping palms in pots. Roots need to be able to develop deeply so that frost cannot reach them and so that they can develop properly. Of course, many will wish to move their pot around to be near the pool-side or the barbecue, but Hendrik discourages this. "A fixed position is very important".