While back in my old neighborhood of Frelard, Seattle (combo between Fremont and Ballard, sometimes known as Balmont) last week, I made it a point to visit this spectacular collection of hardy palm trees growing on both sides of the street along a minor thoroughfare.
What seems to have started at one house, a big colonial set up off the street that looks like it was airlifted from Jamaica, has spread to neighboring properties up, down and across the block. They are inter-planted with other non-natives that can take low water such as eucalyptus, agaves and fescues, as well as a few more typical Northwest species like mahonia (Oregon grape).
I didn’t really get a great shot of the profusion, since it was a bad light day and I was in a hurry (excuses, excuses). Suffice to say that the number and variety are stunning, especially in this climate. I have never seen any of these trees wrapped, so they must be hardy varieties not in need of special care for our zone (8). The fruits on this one were really impressive, hanging in several bunches each over a foot in length.
It seems like people either love or hate palms. Personally, I find them a bit spiky and unfriendly-looking, plus I wonder what bugs and other critters are lurking in their crowns (one I sat under in California this summer supports a family of large roof rats, ew). Their out-of-placeness in Seattle can be a little jarring when you see just one, but planted as they are in this case, with such infectious joy, they provide passers-by with something really fun and different to encounter on their walk, bike or drive by. Plus, once the gray skies are here to stay, it’s nice to have a reminder of sunnier climes.
In the category of “yes, you can find pretty much anything on the web,” someone has posted photos of practically every palm tree visible from the street in Seattle. Who knew there were so many?!
For more information about selecting and growing hardy palms, click here.