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A Sapphire dragon in a Welsh garden!!

  • A Sapphire dragon in a Welsh garden!!
  • A Sapphire dragon in a Welsh garden!!
  • A Sapphire dragon in a Welsh garden!!

I have been looking for this for 8 or so years now. The large Paulownia I have is at long last doing the biz. I looked up at the blackbird in its newly bared branches and there they were, flower buds, lots of them.

This is not tomentosa but another species, kawakamii, one that is more seen in places with a warmer climate. It is a street tree in California and also can be a pest there as well, but not really in the UK. What is more important is this is one I grew from seed. This one is apparently know as the Sapphire dragon tree and not surprisingly with a name like that it is Chinese. Well it certainly looks happy enough here, just where it would normally get sun, it gets rain, lots of it!

Comments (8)

  1. Grower

    Jeremy Wright

    Well Rob - I'm jealous! Our Paulownia tomentosa has never flowered, so I thought I'd go out and check ...and, lo and behold, it has its first bud. Just one! Not the profusion of buds you've got, but it's a start. I'm hoping more will follow.

    Looks like we have the same grey skies this week down in Somerset.

    • A Sapphire dragon in a Welsh garden!!
  2. Grower

    Winifred Field

    How long did it take to get that size from seed?

  3. Grower

    Rob Johnson, Green & Furry pet and garden care

    Jeremy, have you seen the photos of the specie I have on the net? They are truly spectacular . But this is Wales, not California or New South Wales for that matter, just The old wet version. Though it seems to like it here, will the climate we have see off these buds before they open? I had a friend near the botanic gardens where it is much colder in spite of being 5 or so miles away, and her tomentosa flowered beautifully every year. She moved to South west France, it wouldn't grow there. Odd things. But this one? Who knows, no one I know has got this far with it yet. Yours should do well, one bud is a start, For mine, watch this space, that's all I can offer at present. I also have a paulownia fargesii in a pot. Also from seed, I haven't decided where to put it yet.. The seeds are easy if you can get hold of them, they are in the scrophulaceae, oddly, and germinate like foxgloves, surface sown they are very tiny to start with but once pricked out, they just get bigger and bigger. A bit prone to damping off, but enough seed to make up, they are tiny. Let's see if I can produce photos of this tree in full bloom come the spring

  4. Grower

    Rob Johnson, Green & Furry pet and garden care

    Hi Winifred, it doesn't take long to get the amazing leaves, merely a couple of years to produce something spectacular foliage wise. They are very fast growing, but even so this tree is 10years old before it has flowered. I did play around with it at first taking off the side shoots forcing it skywards. That had a wierd but striking effect with the huge leaves on the top of a long trunk, made the neighbours scratch their heads a bit over what the heck I had growing, then I just let it go. So I hope this spring it will give the neighbours something else to ponder over when it hopefully will give its first display, fingers crossed!!

  5. Grower

    Rob Johnson, Green & Furry pet and garden care

    Re- Linda's post 30th July. Just wishful thinking back then. I knew the garden designer Ivan Hicks when I worked at Stanstead Park in Sussex. He had a row of pollarded paulownia tomentosa alongside a path leading to some kind of 'haunted grove', true to his style of gardenig. I helped to look after his garden from time to time, these trees looked really odd. Huge leaves in a row leading down a path into near darkness, then turn your head and a whopping great mirror reflecting them all back to you at an angle. Ivan is a very clever man, this was amazing to look at, and I am no fan of garden designers, but I doff my hat to him. He told me they do lose a bit of vigour after a few years of this treatment. They still looked vey striking never the less

  6. Grower


    Lucky you, I dont know this variety, we grow tomentosa, which we pollard every spring, so no chance of it ever flowering, we let it go one year but the leaves were ripped to pieces (a windy area here)
    I am a great admirer of Ivan Hicks used to watch him many years ago on the television...

  7. Grower

    Rob Johnson, Green & Furry pet and garden care

    Ivan is certainly a character, I got to know him quite well in my short time at Stansead Park. I remember he walked past a rose bed with a radio blaring out of it as a gardener was pruning the roses, he commented 'What's this then, musical roses?'greatly upsetting the afore mentioned gardener.(not me, I would have laughed at that). Made my day. I often wondered if this would crop up again in his designs. These other species of paulownia crop up in AGS, HPS seedlists, well worth joining up

  8. Grower


    Unfortunately one Paulownia is enough in our small garden, we already have far too many unsuitable plants as it is!!

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