Thursday, 1 December 2011


This photo shows the only two plants I retained in the front yard after I moved in 6 years ago. Most dominant is the poinciana, which is now flowering, and to the right, a large cycad, Cycas revoluta. I think I have mentioned previously that, at the time, and really until just before the floods of last summer, Brisbane had been in the grip of an extended drought. Because I wanted a tropical feel to the garden, I added various members of the cycad family to the garden to capture a ferny, palmy look that was still compatible with the severe water restrictions in place at the time.

One of my first steps was to plant a row of Zamia furfuracea or Cardboard 'palms' separated by clumps of liriope along the top terrace garden under my pool - a planting pairing I had seen around Southbank. It provides a lush green contrast to the main garden bed below. Despite their common name, the zamias are not palms, but are a kind of cycad.

A coronet of new growth on my cardboard palm Zamia furfuracea
The photos below show cardboard palms incorporated into a tropical landscape at a friend's place.

Cardboard palms with bromeliads and golden cane palms.

Cardboard palm with rhoeo and birds nest fern.

This prickly specimen I think is Dioon Spinulosum. I planted it  to mark the separation point between  the garden along the driveway and the bromeliads planted at the side of the garage.

Zamia integrifolia foreground with the Dioon spinulosum (?) behind it.

Spring foliage on the Zamia integrifolia

Cones on the Zamia

 Zamia paucijuga  (note to self - need to weed this patch!)

Cycas thouarsii - I planted this right at the start of the driveway  for  impact.

Not my garden, but a local street planting, which shows the Cycas revoluta  male and female plants. Despite the superficial resemblance to palms, cycads produce cones, which align them to conifers.

The cone of my female plant.

Public Enemy Number One - the Blue Cycad Butterfly
The photos below show some of the damage wrought by the Blue Cycad Butterfly caterpillars. I am reluctant to spray if I can help it, but I use Confidor occasionally to minimise the damage on new fronds.


  1. Hi Marisa, your garden looks lush and tropical. I grow just one Zamia; it had once a setback and I thought I lost it, but it has recovered and is doing alright, now. I grow two Cycas but have always trouble with the fronds being destroyed and looking ragged. I grow many Broms and they do well and are easy to keep! Your flowering Poinciana must be a beautiful show now.

  2. Zamias ans such vegetation with peculiar architecture should not be planted in rows or pairs as it happens in the concrete/asphalt isle where I reside.

    In my humble opinion. Their beauty is more significant without distraction.

  3. Thanks for visiting and your comments. I agree that many more architectural plants are better as features, but hopefully the zamia will work as a backdrop to the garden bed below. I think the foliage will be a lovely silhouette against the rock wall.

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  5. Your garden is really awesome! So lush and green like a park!

  6. Thanks Malar. It got a bit knocked around last month because it was hot and very dry, but the rainy season has started, so hopefully will green up again quickly.



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