Corner Cordyline

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Fourteen Year Old Cabbage Tree - 2010

The Cabbage Tree (Cordyline) in the Jelly Bean Border was one of my first shrubby plantings. Now it towers above the hostas and ligularias in the shady Jelly Bean Border corner. It's an iconic New Zealand tree.

Growing, Growing...

This latest photograph of the big Cordyline in the Jelly Bean Garden was taken on a late spring day in the year 2010. All the trees are busy reaching for the sky.

A Many Trunked Tree

This particular Cabbage tree has only has two trunks. It's quite common for them to split into more than one trunk. I've seen lots of beautiful many-trunked Cabbage trees on the back-roads near my garden - they look particularly sculptural in silhouette against the sky.

And on my New Zealand journeys I'll often stop to photograph a particularly old tree. I never get tired of this spiky shape!

A Long Time Ago...

I can remember first planting this Cabbage Tree, back in 1996. The Jelly Bean Garden was half-dug, and all the plants I put in it were knee-high. My good gardening friend Astrid had given me two seedling Cordylines, and in went one of them, positioned to mark the furthest corner of the Jelly Bean garden border.

 This tree has two trunks.
eight year old Cabbage Tree - 2004

I had little idea how big Cabbage trees would grow in my garden - or how quickly! It's been quite a surprise.

 The first cordyline I ever planted in the garden.
three year old Cabbage tree - 1999

Cordylines Can be Messy...

Even though Cordylines can be messy and drop old leaves everywhere I love them. Not all New Zealand gardeners agree with me, though!

ust be prepared to clean up the dead leaves, if they bother you. It's not so good when they drop on the lawn, though - a lot of lawn mowers object!

Or Tidy...

Cabbage trees can be kept tidy by peeling the old straps off their trunks, and I do this from time to time. However their old leaves are their protection against disease, and unless they blow down everywhere they really look fine. Living leaves can get eaten by the caterpillars of the white butterfly.

The Cordyline shares airspace in the Jelly Bean Border with a Tulip Tree and two large Elms. Both trees are slowly but surely reaching for the sky. Viburnum Tinus shrubs (which I prune from time to time) form a lower understory, helping to shelter the nor-west wind. All iconic (and non-iconic) New Zealand gardeners should grow at least one iconic green Cabbage tree.

I've put the three photographs together to show at a glance how quickly (and oddly) this Cordyline has grown. In the latest pictures it looks to have a really spindly trunk - this is a bit of an illusion, as the scale of the photograph is different to the others.

Corner Cordyline Growth - 1999 to 2010

It's just that the Jelly Bean Garden's corner Cordyline is huge.