I Finally Get A Phoenix Canariensis
I think of Phoenix canariensis as the defining symbol of the 0's--plant-wise, that is. The glamorous, expensive, nouveau-riche accessory for every over-mortgaged McMansion in Orange County, Arizona, and Las Vegas. The mansion would go up, the boxed palms would get trucked in, and the For Sale sign would appear. Oh, how I wanted my own very Phoenix canariensis. I knew they were nouveau-riche, but I still liked them, for they are as the Sunset Western Garden Book precisely describes them: stately.
Luckily I thought about it hard enough to talk myself out of it. They're expensive to maintain--to be their most beautiful they must be professionally trimmed by someone who knows what they are doing, and are willing to sterilize their tools, since a fatal disease can be transmitted from plant to plant. And they are huge, and not particularly fast-growing, making them expensive to buy. The fronds on a mature tree has 6 inch spines as thin and sharp as hypodermic needles. And they are invasive aliens in some of California's wild places.
Those horrid Washingtonias:
The zeros are over, the McMansion bubble is two years burst, and I got my very own Phoenix anyway--it appeared on its own, uninvited, at the base of Rosa 'Glowing Peace'. To save the rose, I dug out the seedling. I first assumed it was a Washingtonia, those horrid things. But it is a real P.canariensis: I recognize the spines at the base of the fronds, and they are pinnate (like a feather) not palmate (like a hand). So there it is:
I potted it up and put it in the shade to recover. I'll have time to decide what to do with the thing. We all have plenty of time now to meditate on real estate follies, and the disasterous 0's. Can't blame it on a plant.
Grand and stately. How we all wanted that.
Update: It died.