Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Confessions of a Santa Barbarian: Palm Trees Are Stupid

I posted this a few weeks ago at my column. It's a local Santa Barbara website dedicated to local news & events and my general wise-assmanship. I figured I'd get ridden out of town on a Trachycarpus fortunei trunk, but the comments that poured in seem to support my thesis statement:

"Palm trees are stupid. They have no business growing in Santa Barbara." That's how I was going to start this week's column. Come to think of it, that IS how I started this week's column. But I don't really mean it. Not in the literal sense. I've had some engaging conversations with palm trees on important issues and they always hold their own. But that says more about me than about them.

What I mean is that palm trees just don't DO anything. If you planted one of the big guys in your yard a few decades ago, chances are the only people who can enjoy the show live ten blocks away.

Pretty pictures and the full article...


Anonymous said...

hysterical! There are no palm trees in my neck of the woods. Just good hardwoods and a few pines.

Jenn's Cooking Garden! said...

I like Palm trees! Just dont want them in my yard! And they are only nice if they are takin care of!

dinzie said...

I like them - and how altruistic of people to plant them for others enjoyment !! :O)

We have one palm - the Phoenix palm,Phoenix canariensis - listed as an invasive pest !! Seed is spread by birds and water wit hthe potential for it to Displace native trees through sheer size, and the growth of seedlings can produce an impenetrable, long-lived subcanopy. Reduces water tables and can alter dune form through sand build up around its roots and resulting erosion elsewhere.

Along with about a thousand other pest species that are over here of course :O)


miner said...

Sad, truly sad.

There are great palms that stay small, do well in the shade, provide color, are not invasive, are drought tolerant, etc. Please review Palms for Southern California, published by the Palm Society of Southern California, before making such ill-informed postings. This is irresponsible.

Maybe you should just shop at the annual section of Home Despot?

Garden Wise Guy said...

Miner: I guess you asked for this. I'm also guessing you didn't actually read the story or you would not have flaunted your ill-informed insults.

I usually don't lash back, but when someone decides to "rip me a new one" for no reason, I don't just lay down and take it.

If you had taken the time to read all the way up to the fourth sentence (maybe that is too much to ask) you would have seen the sentence "But I don't really mean it."

Paragraph six contains the welcoming lead-in, "I'd like to quickly touch on the usual suspects and introduce you to a few lesser-known palms that I think you might like." See that? Palms that I think you might like.

The rest of the piece is a VERY fair and balanced description of both the virtues and pitfalls of a number of palm trees, include a few I go out of my way to describe as small and well behaved. Those include Butia capitata, Chamaerops humilis and Phoenix roebelennii.

So, next time you decide to read my blog, do me a favor--as they say in third grade (you DID make it through third grade, didn't you?), read for content.

There, I feel much better now. Hope you enjoyed this response as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Your pal, The Garden Wise Guy.

miner said...


Thanks for your response.

I did read the complete article, reviewed the recommended palms and then wrote my response.

The palms you suggested were really poor choices, IMHO.

Santa Barbara has beautiful Howeas at the courthouse and near State Street that would have been better examples of what a great regal palm can do in an urban or suburban area. Not to mention the unique Foxtails, instead of your Queens, or the very interesting and affordable-not to mention the locally discovered and grown-Chambeyronia macrocarpa AKA Flamethrower palm. And what about the excellent varieties of the King Palm, Archontophoenix, grown throughout SoCal?

From Santa Barbara to San Diego, there are great hobbyists and nurseries growing hundreds of wonderful and easy to grow palms. Why recommend the worst of the Big Boxes? That's "fair and balanced?" Do you work for Fox?

By the way: Graduate of the third grade and UCLA. Thanks for keeping it above board and professional.

Your faithful reader,