That’s A Wrap!


I hope you don’t mind, but in honor of Thanksgiving, I’m offering some leftovers — in the form of a repost.  I’ve reworked it a bit to make it more palatable, but the gist is the same: a couple of crazy Long Islanders will do just about anything to give their yard a tropical look.  Besides, it’s way to cold and blustery today — too cold to hold the camera to redocument this process.

Enjoy — and fresh material is on its way.

I may be the gardener of the house, but Joe also has his landscape loves.  One of his greatest is palm trees.  His absolute fave is Cocos nucifera, the coconut palm.  If it were up to him, coconut palms would be growing everywhere.  We often joke that he would be to coconut palms what Johnny Appleseed was  to apples — only he would be called Joey Coconuts, which does sound a little — alright, a lot — like a character from “The Sopranos.”

Sadly, coconut palms will not grow in our Zone.  Nor will most other palms found around the world.  So what’s a palm lover to do?  About 8 years ago, we purchased a windmill palm, Trachycarpus fortunei to be exact, from Stokes Tropicals.  Originally grown in China, the windmill is one of the hardiest of palms, able to tolerate a fairly severe freeze and a light winter snow cover.

But this is Long Island, and winters are unpredictable.  Sometimes mild, sometimes snowy and frozen — and after the year we’ve had, who knows which winter will come our way.  Although the palm receives full sun, there are steps that we must take — or rather Joe must take, with my assistance — to ensure winter survival.

40 thoughts on “That’s A Wrap!

  1. I agree with the comments above… this is an awesome post.. Question…how many years have you been doing this/has it worked? What is your growing zone there?
    Also, I wondered about when it warms up unexpectedly during say January or February does the plastic wrap and the stuffed leaves make for no ventilation and cause molding problems?
    Thank you for sharing this and its great to see that Joe has his part in the garden too.

    • Hi Kate. We’ve had the tree for about 8 years — it was much smaller when we planted it. If there should be a warm spell in January, we leave everything alone. The plastic wrap certainly isn’t perfect, so I’m sure that does create some ventilation — but we really don’t bother with it all. I’ve worried about the mold issue as well, but so far that hasn’t been an issue. Knock wood. 🙂

  2. What a great post, I’ve always wanted a palm but was afraid of the winter maintenance, you (Joe) made it look fairly bearable. I think I’m going to try one and see how it goes. Maybe I will also tackle a banana plant too! Thanks for inspiring me.

  3. Wow, way to make this gardener (using the term loosely) inadequate! — I breathed a sigh of relief that we received several inches of snow and may have a reprieve from raking leaves to cover my gardens this year 🙂 ~ Kat

    • Hi Kat — believe me, that’s about the one good thing I like about snow. There may be a tower in the backyard, but there is plenty of other stuff that should have been taken care of. Oh well, that’s why we have spring cleaning. 🙂

  4. Fantastic educational post. Joe has made this look sort of easy, but workable. If I was younger, I would try to do the same now that I have your expertise. Thank you for sharing this wonderful post with illustrations. 🙂 Have a Great Week!! 😉

    • If I didn’t have Joe, I don’t think I would attempt it. In fact, I probably wouldn’t even have a palm tree on Long Island. Glad you enjoyed it. Always nice to hear from you. Be well!

  5. Planting a palm tree on Long Island is almost prophetic. Palms are one of Mother Nature’s engineering marvels: during a hurricane, the wind will bend them to the ground and they bounce right back up again.

    • Hello Ann. Funny that you mentioned it. So many trees around were pulled from the ground, roots and lawn and fencing and all, as a result of Sandy. As we walked around the neighborhood, we looked at each other and wished for palm trees. Even if they get blown over, they can be lifted and braced back into place. Our deciduous trees can learn a few lessons from the palms. 🙂

  6. Wow! I can’t imagine this level of work to protect the palm, yet that’s obviously just ignorance talking. If you and Joe ever come to Southern California, please let me know! I love palms, and I’m trying to learn more about them. As you can imagine, they grow very well here, and there are so many. I am not great at distinguishing the differences, yet I’m really trying to learn. I think Joe would be amazed…I think we have more varieties than you’ll even find in Florida. It’s a fascinating study. Loved these photos–it takes a lot of work to be prepared for winter!

  7. Wow! Talk about dedication! I love it. I live in Indiana and have a little pineapple plant that I started from the top of pineapple this summer. I brought it in for the winter. We’ll see if it survives. My aunt actually got a pineapple from hers!

    • That is a very fun project. We tried that years ago. The plant lived and lived, and we brought inside in winter and outside in summer — and never a fruit. We then passed it along to a friend in Florida — and he was able to literally enjoy the fruit of our labor. 🙂 Good luck with it!

  8. I had a client years ago here in the northern suburbs of Boston who wanted Palm Trees on his property. He had a huge swimming pool and concrete mountain water slide in the back that he wanted to look like a pool in the Islands. It was not my company and I was forced to oblige. A local nursery brought in three large Palms that we planted around the pool and one up front. In the early fall we dug them up and took them back to the nursery each winter.

    One of the more bizarre clients and situations. He owned a one bay garage and paid bills in cash…he and Joey Coconuts might be friends…

    • Hi Reed. Your comment reminds of an Open Garden Days I attended a few years ago. All of the gardens were lovely, and then came the garden with the palm trees. They were huge, and we couldn’t understand the expense and manpower needed to get these trees in the ground — and then, just on the other side of a very tall privet hedge was the greenhouse. An amazing — and bizarre — process. I’ll stick with Joe’s tower. 🙂

    • Hi Marguerite. I am so looking forward to that day. When it happens, this blog will take a decidedly tropical turn. We already have the house. When we purchased it 20 years ago, the first thing we did was rip out all of the shade trees and plant palms. Our 70′ x 100′ yard looks like an arboretum! 🙂

  9. Dear God, I feel totally inadequate. I’m also a palm lover. The Coconut is an all-time favorite of mine — second only to the Royals! However, I have never, nor will I ever, go to the lengths that Kevin and Joe have to care for these creations. I travel and take pictures of many varieties in different parts of the world. I have two home grown types in my home and one in my office. I water, feed, and pray over them — but that’s it! There will be no plastic covering, no leaves, no tarp, no hours of dedication — NO PALM TOWER!!! It’s just not happening. I’m sorry Lord. Bless Kevin and Joe for their devotion to your creations. I just can’t do it 🙂

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