by Helen Martin
As every gardener knows, one of the pleasures of gardening is the surprises your garden can throw at you. If you’re a gardener you may have a Ponytail Palm (Beaucarnea recurvata), a species of plant native to eastern Mexico, and you’ll probably know that the plantis not a palm but a succulent in the Agave family and that it seldom flowers. While it can grow to 30 feet, if left in a pot the plant reaches about four feet.
When keen gardeners Alice and Ron Iles moved to Helensville 14 years ago, they were pleased there were two established Ponytail
Palms in the well-established garden surrounding their new home and even more pleased when, unusually, it flowered a few years later and began to sprout branches.
This summer, nine years on, the now 15-foot plant has eight branches, has flowered for a second time and is covered in bees. It’s a spectacular sight, one of those gifts of nature that make every back-breaking moment spent in the garden worthwhile.