Sago Palm at Entrance Gate to Garden

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Although I am better known for the many birds that I have, my professional training is actually in Botany, and I have a real love for plants. As it was in the beginning when I went to university, I thought I wanted to be an Ornithologist. However, once enrolled in biology courses, I quickly discovered that my fascination for plants in nature superseded my interest in wild birds. On the many field trips I went on with classes I was unable concentrate on birds and unable to look in the trees for them. Instead, I was always looking at the ground to see what new native plants I could find. After just one year, I realized my interest in plants was unshakeable. From that point on, I majored in Botany. I never really lost interest in birds, I merely decided to leave them home. So take a walk with me for a couple of minutes and see where I get away from my birds and the rest of the world when I want to!


A Brief Walk in My Garden and What's New This Month!

My primary botanical interest is primarily in not flowering, primitive plants, such as ferns and cycads. Cycads are often called Sago Palms, they are palm like in appearance, but they are not true palms, since true palms are flowering plants, and cycads produce cones like Pines and Spruce, they have no flowers. These are my favorite plants, but my garden has many other groups as well. I like Gingers and Exotic Bananas.

I also love Palms and I have quite an interesting collection of cold hardy palms that I can grow outdoors along the Gulf Coast. These always add a tropical look to the garden.

My main garden area is located on the south side of my house, and this entire area is landscaped with several raised beds, and pathways leading through the garden. The beds are elevated to promote better drainage, as we get lots of rainfall throughout the year. Within each bed you can find many different types of primitive Cycads such as these Mexican cycads, Dioon spinulosum., one of my favorite species. I have several of these graceful plants. Another Mexican cycad which is abundant in my garden is a species which I described new to science in 1977. The Bamboo Cycad, Ceratozamia hildae, is quite an unusual plant. It does not resemble any other cycad, but rather, looks very much like a type of Bamboo. This unusual species was in the horticultural trade for many years, and somehow escaped detection from the scientific world. When I discovered that fact, a friend and I described it as a new species. It is named in honor of the daughter of the original collector who discovered the species in Mexico. There are several species of Mexican cycads that are qutie cold hardy in our temperate climate and can be grown outdoors year round. Since many Cycad species are now considered endangered and threatened plants, I make a special effort to pollinate every female cone each spring and harvest a nice crop of seeds in the fall. Half of my annual seed production is given each year to The Cycad Society, so that members worldwide may also have an opportunity to enjoy these plants.

Since cycads do not produce flowers I had to find something to cultivate in my garden that does flower, and Gingers were an excellent choice. I have many different varieties, and their colorful flowers are very fragrant, especially at night. Nothing provides a more tropical look than Bananas, and there are many beautiful varieties to choose from. While some do not produce edible fruits, many Bananas have colorful leaves, such as this Blood Banana, and others have showy flowers such as this orange flowering species which was found in Costa Rica. Recently I purchased a rare Chinese Yellow Flowering Banana which is reputed to be hardy down to -12° F.

Perhaps the most striking plant in my garden is a 10 feet tall Australian Tree Fern. I planted it about 6 years ago, and its has really grown. Its huge fronds radiate 14 feet across in all directions. It is so large, I can now stand under the shade of its fronds. The tip of the large trunk is covered with thick red hairlike scales and huge new hairy leaves. Its my pride and joy, what a beauty!


Garrie P. Landry