Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Dinosaur Rhubarb

The Gunnera at the moment is resting. In the summer, it is arresting. Now, it lies in a bed of mixed leaves, its own and maple and plum leaves. The leaf covering is three feet thick and needed as Gunnera is tender to a sharp frost. The leaf covering will compost down over the winter and the wonderful shoots will push the rotted leaves aside and emerge. The growth of this plant is phenomenal if given the ample moisture it requires. It has been in this spot 20 or so years and will take over a garden if you let it. I had it in another spot in the garden for about eight years so when we transplanted it to this spot, I needed a front end loader to move the monster root balls. I have not investigated the underground stems of this plant, but Brian Minter said, on his radio show that I listen to, that you need a chain saw to cut them.My variety is Gunnera manicata.They say it may be eaten and is used for food in Brazil ,but I am dubious. The deer in rutting season will savage some of the leaves. They seem to see it as a challenge. I don't mind, as it is starting to decline by then and it saves them attacking the Dahlias. I never bother to fertilize the Gunnera as it is buried in leaf mold. The photos are January and early June. That foolish gardener doesn't appear to be fearful of dinosaurs.

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