Now that I have lots of room, I planted a Gunnera manicata . It has settled in by the lake and in two years, has started to get big ! It was in a two gallon pot when I got it , and was still managable. I have always noticed that ‘the really big ones’ were always beside water, as they need so much moisture to sustain those MASSIVE leaves. They are more sun-tolerant if they sit on the water’s edge as they never get dry and are less likely to burn . I also thought that mine would appreciate a nice rich pile of rotted steer manure and mushroom compost to grow in. Originally from South America, these huge perennials are hardy here (Zone 8), but need to be protected from our hard frosts, which inevitably come. So, last week (early November), I cut it back. This exposed next years crazy, enormous ‘Little Shop of Horrors’-looking growing tip . I put my not-so-tiny foot in the photo on purpose. It is important to protect this ‘crown’ from rotting and freezing right through. The easiest way is to use its own cut-off leaves upside down and make a shelter out of them. You can first cover the bud with dry straw if you want to, but I didn’t. By the time these mega-leaves have rotted away, spring will be here and you just do a bit of clean-up. The monster awakens early, so don’t let the new leaves get caught in the debris…. check for activity in March.
Southlands Nursery ‘ alumni member’ Richard Sehmer helped create huge arrangements for the grand opening of Vancouver’s Van Dusen Botanical Garden’s new visitor’s centre in 2011 . We used huge gunnera leaves, furry Heliconia flowers, moss-covered beach balls and LED-lit glass icicles. It looked fantastic !
By using Gunnera foliage cut that day, there was no wilting. We kept costs down, also – they were free !
This arrangement was huge – the ‘birch logs’ are actually cardboard construction tubes (used for cement) . The building was still under construction at party time, and I wanted to connect with that in the decor .