Grand Tree Fern Designs

We had a bit of a glamourous start to last week. Well, glamourous in a muddy, wet Cornish sort of way. One of our customers is building a new house not too far from the north coast and the whole project is being filmed for the long-running TV programme, Grand Designs. 

The nursery had been asked to source some rather special specimen plants as part of the build, a couple of massive Cornish tree ferns. Last Monday, complete with camera crew, Nick and Alasdair made their way down to a garden on the Helford Estuary to rescue a pair of fallen giants. The tree ferns were actually a single plant that had split into two trunks about eighty years ago. In 2015 the ferns had blown over in a gale, bringing with them part of the weak bank on which they stood. The business end of a tree fern is the crown, from where the luxuriant foliage sprouts. This means that when it comes to moving these lovely plants, as long as the tip is in tact, you don't need to worry about roots as you would with most other plants.

The curvaceous tree ferns at rest. Their botanic name is Dicksonia antarctica and they are native to Tasmania and Australia.

Alasdair, Mike, Harry and Nick with one of the mighty ferns.

Along with Harry (the new-build owner and Duchy Nursery customer) and Mike the gardener, the nursery crew managed to cut and transport the two huge tree ferns up from the depths of a valley garden. The tree ferns were both over two metres in length and each took four grown-men to shift. The tree ferns were then squeezed into our faithful truck and driven to the site of the new build for planting the next day.

Nick with the tree ferns loaded on the truck.

Kevin McCloud, Grand Design’s presenter was keen to help get the ferns in the ground but, given their size and the fact that there was a 3 metre drop, down which they would have to be lowered, things weren’t going to be simple! 

A clearly fascinated Kevin McCloud listens intently as Alasdair explains...

With a load of scaffold planks, strops (ropes rather than tantrums) and some brute force, apparently it all went smoothly. Mr McCloud came in rather handy too, with a timely prusik loop and a spade!

However,who knows what the camera captured and so we wait for November when the programme will be aired to find out! 

Grand Designers? Alasdair, Kevin McCloud and Nick.

We are also glad to say that the lads managed to pick up some slightly smaller specimens of Cornish tree ferns while they were down west. These special Cornish tree ferns have been potted up and prices start at £59.99. 

If you're interested in knowing more about our Cornish tree ferns, please take a look at the article in the 2017 edition of our gazette, Houmout (page 4 - 7).