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Palm Scape experiments during winter weather

Jamie Newman is the owner of Palm Scape, a palm tree nursery in Boring


The four Newman kids will grow up not only knowing what it’s like to get their hands dirty working on a farm, they’ll also know how to grow a plant that's very unusual to this area: palm trees.

Jamie Newman and his wife, Janelle, run Palm Scape, a palm tree nursery at 30000 S.E. Highway 212 in Boring.

Newman has always lived in the Boring area and found the farming way of life admirable. Finally, in 1996, he decided he really wanted to expose himself and his family to all that a farming lifestyle entails.

Palm Scape started as a hobby to fill a gap. Newman said he decided on palm trees because he thought the people he knew in the area who had native nurseries really didn’t need the competition.

“And since it didn’t grow out of a financial need, I wanted to do something challenging,” he said.

And challenging it is. Newman said that cultivating palms is all about trying to mimic what a palm tree really needs in a place where it doesn't normally grow, which includes a lot of different soil mixes. Palm trees are extremely slow growing, taking 4-6 years to grow from seed to a 1-gallon plant.

“Keeping them happy during the 10-year process from seed until they’re ready to go into someone’s landscape is quite an undertaking,” Newman said.by: POST PHOTO: KYLIE WRAY - Newman recently stripped the fur off two of his palm trees, which was iced over. He hopes they will make it through the rest of the season.

But since working with palm trees, Newman has found it difficult to grow anything but. “My palms have responded the best to me,” Newman said. “I’m so used to taking care of their needs that I’ve had terrible luck with anything else.”

Newman bought the land that is home to Palm Scape in 2011, and the nursery now has thousands of trees of all ages.

“I love customers who are really excited about the possibility of keeping palm trees in this area,” said Janelle. “Either because they’ve moved up here and used to have them, or because they just like the beautiful plant.”

While the hot and sunny months are tougher with near constant watering and keeping plants cool, the winter months are difficult as well.

Newman and his crew have been working hard to keep the plants’ root systems from freezing all the way through. “It was something that we didn’t really achieve,” Newman said. “But we were really encouraged to see that they made it through.”

Newman has found a few specific things to be really helpful for those wanting to keep the palm trees in their yard comfortable in the recent record low temperatures. He suggests building up mulch around the bottom of the trunk such as bark dust or leaves.

“They take less time to get growing in the spring if they don’t freeze as deep,” Newman said.

He also recommended wrapping Christmas lights around the trunks of your palm — it adds extra warmth and looks festive at the same time.

Right now, all Palm Scape deals in is palm trees, but Newman has been experimenting with some cold desert plants. He says although most of his cold weather cultivation experiments have failed, he did have a couple surprises. In the spring, he hopes to introduce some new species that made it through the winter.by: POST PHOTO: KYLIE WRAY - Palm Scape has undergone a lot of construction to make a nice presentation for visitors. Even the house on the property is getting a makeover.

The Newmans have been enjoying their adventure into the farming world. “It’s been an exercise of faith, but it’s really exceeded my expectations of enjoyment,” Newman said.

“Even though it’s difficult, I would actually recommend farming to people who want to experiment with it.”