This is the story about a dream, an elusive plant, a plant's long journey, a continuing story.
It all started many years ago with an obsession of mine to get a Giant Swamp Taro, Cyrtosperma chamissonis. For years I drew a blank, hardly anyone had even heard of it. Then one day in a nursery I saw a small plant that resembled it. I asked and the answer actually was probably whatever it took to sell me the plant.
Anyway, soon my hot little hand was on that plant and the adventure began. Like so many of my projects I jump in and then try to decide what I have to do and how to do it. In this case I had a water plant but not the suitable place to put it.
As it turns out, I have a dam in my garden (garden edge). Water was running off the lawn and eroding the side. The dam doesn't hold water all year. Late dry season it's dry. Had been toying with the idea of putting in a pond to regulate the water flow into the dam, and at the same time to have a permanent pool with waterplants and fish.
So February of 2005 I began digging the start of a pond. The photo is the first bit of hole with a Colocasia esculenta in the foreground, behind it my new Typhonodorum disguised as what I thought was my Giant Swamp Taro.
Jump to September 2005, as the temporary measure the hole has been lined with some builder's black plastic. So all the plants settle down while I get to thinking about the next stage of this enterprise.
September 2006 The rope's not there to stop it getting away, I assure you it was more than happy to be there (Disclaimer: There was no cruelty to any plants during the photographing of this story. What happened later was "for their own good!")
But it was that fateful September 2006 that my brain finally gave birth to plans for the next phase. My temporary pond site was also my permanent pond site - Catch 22!. What I needed was another temporary pond so I could empty my first temporary pond.
The site of the new one was in my swamp, also non-perennial. Wet season it floods and becomes a 'real swamp' and my new temporary new pond would become incorporated into it. So I dug out a hole before the rains came and placed a pond liner into it.
And I decide I'd better pull the finger out and get moving on the pond before the rains flood me out again causing more delays.
The centre part of the pond was to be deeper. So, at this stage the sides needed to flare out to also give a greater surface area. The old concrete work was cleaned with acid and more reinforcing steel was put in for strength.
While the edging was still far from finished time had come to put in the "soil". First a thick layer of bentonite clay, then some cracker dust (rock dust). On that I placed decomposing leaves and vegetation from the dam. Finally some clay soil and some more vegetation. The photo shows the bentonite clay in the bottom of the pond.
Thanks Jen, Sunny and Blkraven. I've found that I can keep (digital) records better than a diary. Anything that happens, the camera comes out to record it. Helps me to keep track of things like where I've buried irrigation lines, etc. Now if I ever get hold of a Giant Swamp Taro I'm going to need a new pond for it. But of course, there'll be a big temporary one to start with. I can use the tractor to dig it out in the swamp during the dry season.
Glad you enjoyed it bugme and art_n_garden. I enjoyed relating the story and hope it gives encouragement to others. Seeing me bumbling and bungling my way through this, taking years, should inspire others to think "If that numbskull managed to finally do it, then so can I."
I know I'm resurrecting an old thread here, but I did finally find my Giant Swamp Taro, Cyrtosperma merkusii (formerly C. chamissonis). This is it bursting out of its pot. I'm in the process of building a new pond for it but the wet season beat me. It's going to have to be patient for a while.
I really enjoyed your story-what a lot of work putting all those photos in there. How big is your plot of land? It looks like you have a jungle. I had to look up your town to find out you were near Darwin. I never thought it was so lush in that area (I was wrong . . . ) I used to live in a suburb of Sydney in 1985.
So sorry for your loss, LouC. We lost our son at age 35 to a very unexpected heart attack. It's been just over four years, but still miss him mightily.
Tropicbreeze, I admire your patience. It seems I want it and I want it now! Just like putting the water in my pond yesterday before I had lined the interior with rock. Now, I have to do it the hard way.
No worries LouC, it's something that never really goes away. You learn to cope with it, but never get used to it.
Mothermole, it is quite a bit different to Sydney. We have a very distinct dry season, and also a very distinct wet season. Our rainfall is very heavy over the time it falls. But for the dry season I have bore water for irrigation. I have a brother living in Sydney.
Brenda, I usually get obsessed with one project. before it's finished I'm onto something else. So many half done jobs. The Giant Swamp Taro get up to around 5 metres (16.4 feet) .
Don, I know that feeling, I lost a very close friend and now and again it comes back to me. It's possible to live with it, not possible to forget.
But don't ask me how many times I've had to do things over again, I'd be too embarrassed to say.
Tropic, I just saw your thread for the first time and enjoyed it greatly.
Lou and dgal, never be concerned about your posting so long as it is not an insult. Your words spoke from the (still-broken) heart, and you've got lots of friends. I'm sorry for your losses.
Tropic, I always believed that if you were persistent, you'd find that giant swamp taro. I've grown a new affection for these water lovers. They are happy in the shade and produce beautiful colors with a little sunlight. Keep us apprised.
PS North America has been pretty darned cold, so many of us wish we were there with you.
Thanks Cathy. The Giant Swamp Taro quest started a long time back and although I can now see a very bright light at the end of the tunnel, it won't be complete until the new pond is finished. I've been hearing about the freeze. Hopefully it's going to keep warming up from now on.
Belle, the pond has been through a few changes. I put some Thalia geniculata in it and it took off in top gear almost filling the pond in no time. Quite a job to get it out. Even now I still get seedlings coming up around the place. Removing it opened up the pond again. The Typhonodorum has never looked back. It flowers regularly but I ran out of people to give seeds/seedlings to. So now I cut the immature seed pods off and compost them.
The surrounding plants are doing quite well. Everything is so tall now that the pond looks tiny by perspective.
1st Photo. A front view. The timber leaning at the back is a fallen tree propped on another tree. Still have to work out how to get it out of there. The problem with rainforests, always some tree falling.
2nd photo. From the back edge towards the front. On the left Lasia spinosa, a water aroid. Bottom left Carpentaria acuminata, a palm. To the right Typhonodorum lindleyanum, the "owner" of the pond.
3rd photo. Bit further back, looking through (over) the foliage at the back of the pond towards the pond. The centre plant is the Lasia spinosa.
4th photo. Cyrtosperma merkusii, Giant Swamp Taro, the original purpose for starting this pond. It's in the background of the pond in soggy soil.
5th photo. Urospatha grandis, another water aroid. It's in a pot on the edge to stop it from getting out of control and easier to reposition if needed.
Thanks Belle. A good person to check with for Cyrtosperma species is Rachel. She's often on the tropical plants and aroids forums. I know she has the Cyrtosperma johnstonii growing (and the Lasia spinosa). There'll probably be some on Ebay too. Here I got them from a specialist nursery, Equatorial Exotics, in Cairns. But they are becoming a bit more readily available now.
If you check with Rachel she would be able to tell you where she got hers from, she's quite helpful. Another person often on the aroid forum is Dave (tropicalnut777). He's just starting out on Cyrtosperma and is great on tracking things down. They are available over there, but difficult to find.
Look up my Lasia spinosa thread on the aroid forum. Click on her name and you'll get the link to her Dmail. Dave, tropicalnut777, is also on that thread.
Also, when you're looking around be careful on identity. As mentioned on this thread above, I was initially sold a Typhonodorum lindleyanum as a "Giant Swamp Taro". At the nursery they really didn't know what it was but thought it looked like it could be called a Giant Swamp Taro so they called it that. The "real one" is Cyrtosperma merkusii.