Cabbage Tree (Cordyline)

One of the first Cordylines (or Cabbage trees) I planted in my garden is seen here, tattered but triumphant, silhouetted against the winter sky. Ha! The blue sky in this picture is proof that we have nice gardening winters!

 Winter 2004.
Cabbage Tree (Cordyline) - 2004

This Cabbage tree (Cordyline) marks the beginning of the Apple Tree Garden. One of my hose butlers sits underneath, and there's a small ring of miniature Agapanthus planted around the base.

Favourite Cat Climb

The fibrous trunk has always been a favourite tree climb for my younger cats. Successive Moosey kittens have discovered their climbing claws zooming up it - and down it, carefully backwards. Cabbage tree trunks give good traction...

 Little Mac, 2012's kitten.
Kitten Climbs the Cordyline

Cordylines always shed the old leaves from their trunks, particularly when the wind has been blowing, so the ground beneath is continually messy. The leaves, tied in bundles, make brilliant fire-starters. But they mustn't go anywhere near garden shredders. The leaf fibre is so tough that it jams the blades up.

 I couldn't have a garden in New Zealand without Cabbage trees.
cordyline in 2000

Rosy Neighbours

The nearest proper neighbours are climbing roses - Clair Matin leans over a rickety archway, and the spring flowering Fruhlingsgold spreads itself up and over a sturdy pink Camellia. A new path weaves through these shrubs to reach the Laundry Seat and the Moosey washhouse door.

Reaching for the Sky

Often it's only when taking photographs that a gardener notices how much growth there's been. Even back in 2004, in order to take a successful photograph of the Cabbage tree I had to point the camera at the sky. Now in 2012 it's too high to get the top leaves into frame. That's progress!

Why 'Cabbage Tree'?

The reason that we call Cordylines 'Cabbage trees' shouldn't be too obscure. I've been told that in earlier times the leaves were boiled and softened to eat, like overcooked cabbage. Actually, many non-gardening New Zealanders don't know or use the word 'Cordyline' at all.