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I am planning the planting for my potential pond, and have always wanted a Gunnera - there is physical space for an average plant (not the one in Dorset with 13 foot leaves), but I don't know how far the roots extend, or how brutish they are bearing in mind that they will be somewhere near to a pond liner. Anybody know?
Hi Sara - gunnera roots do travel a long way, making it a devil to shift, but shouldn't puncture a pond liner. They're pretty fleshy and fibrous, rather than stiff and woody, and travel along quite near to the surface for the most part. That said, have you looked at darmera peltata as a much easier, smaller, hardier, but otherwise similar plant? Its leaves only get to about 18inches across each and it tends not to exceed about 3 or 4ft in height. Has a lovely habit, with biggest leaves in the middle/back and smaller ones towards the edges, on shorter stems, hiding its legs well. Its a rhizome that sits on the surface, making it very easy to chop bits off and relocate them if it outgrows its space or if you just want more of it. It is lovely - I too wanted gunnera, but just can't overwinter it in my northern garden, so darmera is perfect for me. Not a poor relation by any means. Bx
That's an excellent recommendation Auntie B. I shall keep an eye out for one. have just bought my 3rd gunnera in 10 years having lost one to a -32C frost despite a thick blanket of compost and another to an early frost in October about 4 years ago and before I was expecting to need to cover it.
This one is staying in a pot till it's bigger and will be over wintered in the greenhouse but if I find a darmera I shall give the gunnera away to a less exposed home.
Another plant for big leaves that don't get too huge is astilboides which I have growing happily in a damp bed on the north side of our house so it doesn't get full sun till 3pm or so from late spring to early autumn - bteween the equinoxes.
Or there's Rodgersia http://www.crocus.co.uk/plants/_/rodgersia-podophylla/classid.2000005305/ lovely plant with really good autumn colour and again, it's hardy.
Fantastic, thank you - I have googled all three and now my issue will be deciding which one (or can I fit them all in .... I am very greedy). I am after the structural effect of the gunnera, which these obviously supply beautifully. I must admit I did have reservations about the Gunnera' s growth potential, as I'd quite like to see some of the pond if we ever finish building it. Thank you all for your help.