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I bought Firmiana simplex aka Chinese Parasol Tree as a wee plant and promptly put in the ground. I couldn’t see it behind the wall of Rhodocoma capensis out back by the fence, though figured eventually it’d be tall enough. Alas, when I did check, it had been eaten–all its big glorious leaves AND most of its stem–right down to a nub. Dang it.

Rhodocoma capensis (aka Cape Restio.)  Little Chinese Parasol Tree was between this and the fence.


Rabbits in our urban garden are somewhat new, but definitely growing in population. We hadn’t had much trouble until neighbors behind us finally cut back their blackberry thicket. Which seemed good news (we were constantly fighting its thorny tentacles over, under, and through the fence. So, pretty good, until word got out: tender plants for a mere tunneling under. OY. I did not expect them to devour a 2′ tree with big leaves.

Firmiana simplex aka Chinese Parasol Tree — big leaves even on a new little plant at Secret Garden Growers


I thought the little tree was a goner, but when I yanked it from the ground, I saw living roots. So I quickly repotted my gnawed stick and hoped for recovery. I do admit to a bit of a problem with buying trees wherein I don’t have an actual place to plant, so sometimes when they don’t make it, it’s a bit of a relief. This one, though, I thought I had all figured out.

Chinese Parasol Tree


After some consternation, and an ice storm that broke most branches on the huge Loropetalum ‘Sizzling Pink’ akak Chinese Fringe Flower, I found a new spot.

Loropetalum ‘Sizzling Pink’ aka Chinese Fringe Flower


I’ll be curious to see what happens when the little tree that could develops actual limbs. So far, there are just giant leaves which it sheds come winter. My friend Senka describes it as a Festivus Pole. She’s right, isn’t she.

Firmiana simplex during winter. Dubbed The Festivus Pole by friend Senka.


This summer, the tree more doubled in height. I love the big leaves and how they contrast with the smaller bits behind, Fargesia robusta, Lorapetalum ‘Sizzling Pink’, Datisca cannabina, oh and there’s Calycanthus x raulstonii ‘Hartlage Wine’ and more. I KNOW there’s way too much back there and everything will get too big, but I cannot seem to help myself. My brain says I need ALL the plants.

Firmiana simplex aka Chinese Parasol Tree


So far, happy with it in this bed on west-side of the garden. The big leaves are a nice contrast to the bamboo and fringe flower, et al. And it’s a fairly fast grower–surprising considering its early misadventures. I know the day will come when serious editing is in order. Until then, I’ll be at the plant shop, buying more plants…