Flowering this week: Aloe thraskii

Aloe thraskii - quite happy in our marginal conditions

Aloe thraskii - quite happy in our marginal conditions

One of the tree aloes from southern Africa, A. thraskii is putting up its heads of yellow flowers now. I am not a fan of spiky plants in our garden but I am willing to make an exception for some of the handsome aloes. Thraskii is sometimes referred to as the dune aloe (it grows naturally in coastal dune areas) or the palm aloe (on the grounds, perhaps, that if you were nearly blind and galloping past on a runaway horse you may think it resembled a palm?). What is special about thraskii for our purposes is that despite its hot, coastal origins, it is pretty tolerant of higher rainfalls and even the odd light frost. Planting it in free draining soils is even more important if you are growing it in higher rainfall conditions. We have undertaken some reorganisation of the area around our thraskii, which is now about 15 years old and over 2 metres high and I have issued an edict that I would like it moved. Fortunately, aloes can be moved relatively easily but I do notice that nobody has sprung into action yet. This could be because each leaf is thick, heavy and edged in saw-tooth prickles and could make a suitable weapon for guerrilla fighters. Maybe we will just let it flower first. Its yellow tubular blooms hanging from the flower spikes coming from the centre of its top knot are not as spectacular as some of the other aloes, but they are still pleasing on a dreary winter’s day.