I am absolutely crazy about palm trees. Don’t ask me why this girl born of Douglas fir, cedar and western hemlock would be attracted to this tree of the tropics. I can so clearly remember the first time I saw a real one. In college two friends and I drove from Eugene, Oregon to San Francisco for spring break. We stopped for gas after about a 10-hour drive and I spotted my first palm tree. I was immediately smitten with these almost absurd looking plants, tall skinny trunks which blossom out in a riot of awkward looking branches. I felt like I was returning home from some long arduous journey taking many generations, perhaps an ancient warrior returning from a crusade to see the sentinels of my homeland.
Imagine how enraptured I was when I went to Puerto Rico for Peace Corps training. I was quartered in a casita deep in the tropical rainforest among a huge variety of exotic plants, climbing vines, orchids, huge leafed plants, and the spectacular flamboyant trees in enormous bright red blossoms. I clearly remember an Outward Bound survival swim we were taken on a very windy day to a little cove. The swim was easy for me and we had to go out quite far around a buoy and back to shore. It was so easy for me that I swam on my back so that I could look over at shore and admire the palm trees fronds bent over to one side. I figured that these wonderful trees can withstand a hurricane. Something to keep in mind in the future.
My master bedroom bath has a palm tree design on the shower curtain, a print of a palm from Kew, the Royal Botanical Garden, London hanging on the wall. My guest room has a print of a Travelers palm from the Raffles Hotel in Singapore, a gift from my sister. I have several towels embroidered with Palm trees on them, a bar of soap covered in cellophane with a palm print on it. There is just something about them that makes my heart race a little faster.
Two years ago I went out to Molbecks in Woodinville and purchased my very own palm tree a Trachycarpus fortunei or Chinese Windmill which can withstand temperatures below freezing. I am thrilled with it. I’ve planted it out on my terrace and on hot days in the summer, I put my aluminum folding chair beside it with a cold glass of lemonade and pretend I am in Puerto Rico once again.