#8 Grow an Unusual Plant

Unusual plants are in the eye of the beholder.

There’s a succulent from the agave genus known as the Century plant, said to flower once in a hundred years  – before dying.  In truth, it sometimes blooms as prolifically as every ten or twenty years but on any scale, it would have to be considered unusual and it would be quite amazing to nurture and actually witness the flower.

However, I’m not sure I have that long to wait, so I’ll focus instead on something a little more accessible:

#8 Grow an Unusual Plant

Many years ago, I wrote articles for a Canadian magazine and at the editor’s request, sent an accompanying photograph of myself. It happened to be taken with a fully laden orange tree in my garden as the backdrop, a detail I barely noticed.

Alas, rather than rhapsodise about my literary skills, the magazine’s editor wrote about the fact that people in Australia could actually grow orange trees in their back yards!! (his italics and his exclamation marks).

Unusual plants are, as I said, in the eye of the beholder.

But I guess this means that a plant that others don’t, or can’t, commonly grow but will cause a twinge of envy or regret when people see someone else has done it, can be classed as unusual.

The climate in my neck of the woods is temperate with cold, frosty winters and hot dry summers. When I first moved here nearly thirty years ago, everyone said avocado trees wouldn’t survive the frosts, don’t bother with them. I believed this, and didn’t plant any.

Then after a few years I met someone who lived around the corner and had a flourishing avocado tree.  I’d been duped!

But based on the reputed length of time between planting the tree and eating the fruit (about six years) I thought “too long to wait” and still didn’t plant one.

Finally, about ten years ago, on the basis of “if not now, then never”, I took the plunge, ordered two avocado trees – a Fuerte and a Reed (so they could cross pollinate – they’re very choosy about their companions) –  and waited:

Reed avocados hanging from my tree

Now I have two fully-grown avocado trees – somewhat unusual in this district –  in my back yard!  Planted a little too close together, sure, and growing much, much taller than I’d reckoned on, but absolutely laden with fruit. My first pick was such a proud moment:

The perfect first-born

Now, however, I can be heard muttering: “Not avocados for lunch again,”, so there’s no pleasing some people.

Then my young persimmon tree fruited for the first time this year, and what an exotic little beauty it was with its marvellous leaves which give a spectacular autumn display and its golden globed fruit hanging like Christmas decorations.

With my fuyu persimmon before the leaves changed colour

And this variety doesn’t have to go squelchy before it can be eaten. It’s delicious.

There’s no doubt growing interesting plants can be very satisfying, though the downside is that I’m going to turn into one of those elderly people who’ll only leave home when they’re carried out in a box.

I mean, how many nursing homes will have avocado and persimmon trees?

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