Canary Island Date Palms at Lumpys

SPECTACULAR CANARY ISLAND DATE PALMS AT LUMPY’S

Let’s ask Lumpy

“So Lumpy tell me about the big palm trees at the front of the landscape yard.”

Well, I grew them from seed about 25 years ago. They are Canary Island Date Palms
In 1993 I submitted development plans for my home, which is now the Lumpy’s site, and was required to attach a landscape plan. The palms were the first plants on that plan.”

The Master Plan

I had a master plan, might sound corny but it’s what it was.  I wanted to create amazeballs.

I had in my mind to create this majestic avenue, a bold statement at the entry of the property in years to come, and it did take years!


Canary Island Date Palms

“Lumpy why did you choose Canary Date Palms?”

To me, they are the quintessential statement tree. It’s all about the symmetric framework, the beautiful furrowed trunk, the trunk size and the spread of the fronds – just ideal!  I think of some of the most beautiful stands of these trees like in Sydney’s Centennial Park, The Botanical Gardens and The Olympic site at Homebush which interestingly were transplants from NSW and other states.
Grew from seeds.

I got the seed from a stand of young trees from the street running up to Long Reef headland in Sydney (where they fly hang gliders from) and, as always, no matter how careful you are, you get bitten by those ever present spines on the base of the fronds.

The seeds were germinated and grown in 6” pots. I have a photo on planting day with the seven of them in a wheel barrow and me without one grey hair. That was 1994.

Planting

Eager to get them in the ground, I over engineered the whole process. With a borrowed excavator from a friend who was working at the Pacific Palms sewer project. (I was working there doing the tree removal work).

Anyway, we dug these quite large holes spaced at 8 1/2m apart, improved the soil by adding compost, adjusted the PH with dolomite. The PH was down as low as 4 because the existing soil had acid sulphate properties.

Champion growers

They grew like champions. In fact, they did so well they became top heavy with one falling over and the others leaning. You can see the natural bend especially obvious on one them.

Considerable amount of pain is given during the first number of growing years. The plants don’t grow upwards until they achieve their trunk diameter. During this time to keep ‘em’ tidy I’d prune the old dead fronds and again, no matter how careful you try to be, you get pain.

They are the master, you are the servant.

After 10 years or so, pruning becomes easier as you have room to move while pruning

Bushfire Saturday, 26 October 2019

Lumpy, how did the palms fair in the recent fires?”

Yeah, I remember that was a day well suffered.

Our local area had been choked with smoke for what seemed like months of fires around the area and on Saturday, 26 October 2019 it was our turn.  Mid afternoon there had been a wind shift and the fire jumped the river into the back of Tuncurry. That afternoon there was the most unbelievable sunset behind smoke and ash. You could hear it coming. Like a locomotive.

We had grandkids staying with us that weekend. It was decided kids, animals and women were to leave. Large pieces of ash and cinders were raining on us, burning holes in the shade cloth and weed mat. From what started as an orderly calm, quickly turned to panic – no time for photo’s or most favourite things.

The helicopters and other aircraft had retired, night had come and it was me, my hose and the beast rampaging towards us.

It hit Chapmans Road as a full fire front inferno. My 10 litres a second hose and swearing was never going to stop that animal.

I decided it was time to leave.

Hit the road, go left, drive quick! Driving my van at the incredible black silhouette of tree trunks and branches within the flaming mass – A memory etched in my mind forever. I got to the corner 200m up the road and was out of danger. I stopped there to see the fire wind lapping my palms across the road.

The first fire started in the nursery so I legged it across the park back to the nursery. I got that fire out and then noticed another larger fire happening at the rear. At this point no hose was set to protect that area of the property.

Five goes having the hose blow off the nozzle, it was like daylight from the flames. Sixth attempt after saying sorry to God for previously swearing and cussing I was good.  I couldn’t leave the fire at the back to check the front. That was a nervous moment. About 15 mins later the fire at the road had burned down enough for the RFS to enter – a great relief.

Five of the seven palms had serious crown fires. God love the RFS they dumped tanker loads of water on them to help.
2 ½ years later, the palms are still recovering. They were seriously scorched on the south side facing the fire. Interestingly burnt the fronds from the fire and plant parts are still falling out of them. I reckon it will be four years at least before full recovery.

Now they are 28 years old.

Life after the fires

“Lumpy, lastly, how long do you expect the palms to live?”

I’m giving them a good 100 years.

Lumpy gets his hands dirty and tells the story of the Iconic Canary Island Date Palms

Question: 

How many canaries on Canary Island?

Answer: 

None – You would think it logical, however, the islands are not actually named for the little yellow canary bird.  Instead, the islands get their name from the Latin term, “Insual Canaria”, which means “Island of the Dogs”.  The ancient Romans who first visited the islands gave them this name as there were lots of wild dogs on the Island.