Coast Diary – April 9th

After a warm patch, its cold again this week with hail pelting down yesterday from the boiling cumulus between April showers. But there’s the palm tree I can see from my house and I am mesmerized by its spiky green leaves against the ultramarine blue of the sea. Over lockdown I tried – and failed to paint it – to convey those tropical palm tree vibes. As you can see, I am probably more suited to the hawthorn.

Growing up, I was entranced by the TV, by the children’s shows (Flipper), westerns (Bonanza), the comedies (The Brady Bunch, The Beverly Hillbillies) and the cop shows (CHiPs). Hollywood, California was a technicolour Utopia only reachable through the tube. I was in my 30’s before it occurred to me you could actually go to California in real life and in my 40s when I finally got there. And even though I realised it was a lot more real than you might think – where the desert meets the sea its often foggy and Santa Barbara can look like Ireland on certain days – I am still entranced by Americana, by motels, neon lights and freeways. So while some friends complain about invasive species on our shores, I quite love the ‘palm’ trees that are ubiquitous in the gardens of our coast. On a sunny day I am in LA, I am in technicolour, I am alive. Palm trees are to our gnarly, knuckled hawthorns bent under the weight of a history of servitude to the south westerlies, what Marilyn Monroe was to Peig – a promise of a bigger, better life, with no pain no tragedy…

So much for that, as Marilyn could tell us. Our palm trees aren’t palm trees, or even trees. The cordyline australis, cabbage palm or cabbage tree is a plant and native of New Zealand. It was popularized in Ireland in the early to mid 1800s, presumably in the posher gardens. They began to spread into the wild in the 1970s when they became popular with the burgeoning middle classes. And they continue to proliferate despite coming under threat during some of our colder winters. Perhaps they are at once Peig and Marilyn…

***

For any one in Waterford today, I am launching an illustrated book based on my South Russia blog at Garter Lane Theatre at 3pm. All Welcome.

References

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/palm-trees-in-ireland-36548780/

https://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/homes-and-property/2.770/cordyline-crisis-hits-country-1.568415

12 Comments

  1. Had planned to be at the launch, but circumstances prevent I’m afraid. Best of luck….oh and I’m one of those palm haters, except for the tree in Faithlegg graveyard of course 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    1. That doesn’t sound good April…poor cabbage plant doesn’t have many fans. Launch was very good. Will post on it next week. Relieved it’s done. Busiest year of my life so far…hoping to get back to normal(ish) now.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

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