Side-stepping for a moment the debate about whether this is a seperate species or whether it is a cultivar of Trachycarpus fortunei, it is - without doubt - one of the most beautiful of the cold hardy palms that we can grow in the UK. Its tough fans, characteristically so much smaller and more rounded than that of Trachycarpus fortunei are stiff and thick and held aloft on long petioles and contribute to the plant's graceful and very elegant profile. These shortened leaflets are very rigid and leathery and do not fold down as do the much longer leaflets of Trachycarpus fortunei and, being smaller, they give the plant a greater tolerance of windy conditions. A glossy green on the upper surface, they are slightly glaucous on the lower surface and there is often a pale wooly tormentum on the rims of new leaves. I have found it to be as hardy as T. fortunei and - in contrast to what many have written about it - rather quick growing, particularly once planted in its permanent position.
Trachycarpus wagnerianus was originally named by the German horticulturalist and garden designer Ludwig Winter to honour his fellow German horticulturalist Albert Wagner. Wagner, who had also been instrumental in importing large quantities of Cycas revoluta into Europe, had imported a quantity of this compact form of Trachycarpus from Japan to his nursery in Leipzig and subsequently sold the entire consignment to Winter, who in 1875, had created a nursery in Arziglia on the outskirts of Bordighera on the Ligurian Rivieria. Winter designed many gardens in this region including the celebrated Giardino di Madonna della Ruota, between Bordighera and Ospedaletti; Villa Zirio in Sanremo; Villa Bischoffsheim in Bordighera and Borgo Storico Seghetti Panichi in Ascoli Piceno as well as gardens for Prince Hohenlohe in Sanremo and - across the French border - gardens for Empress Eugenie, widow of Napoleon III at Villa Cyrnos at Cap Martin and the Countess Foucher de Careil in Menton. It was Ludwig Winter's botanical introductions and skill as a landscape architect that gives much of the Cote D'Azur and Italian Riviera its characteristically exotic style.
For your own exotic style Trachycarpus wagerianus is one of those 'must have' plants. Fully hardy, tolerating snow and frost in my experience down to at least minus 15 degrees Centigrade and maintaining its appearance in the strongest of winds it is a perfect 'no-fuss' palm. That it also happens to be one of the most elegant palms with its crisply defined-foliage make its indispensible for the exotic gardener.
|Synonyms||Trachycarpus fortunei 'Wagnerianus'|
|Geographical Origin||From horticulture in Korea and Japan|
|Cultivation||Sunny position or partly shaded aspect. A moist rich, well-drained soil.|
|Eventual Height||8-10 m|
|Eventual Spread||2-2.5 m|
|Hardiness||Frost and snow hardy down to at least -15C but probably capable of withstanding even lower temperatures.|
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