Fun with Sago Palms!

When I first arrived at Tudor Place, my biggest fears were dealing with the massive boxwood collection as well as caring for the rose garden. Both are usually fairly low maintenance when following a best practices protocol, but things can go wrong very quickly.

However, another responsibility is caring for the historic Sago Palms. According to family lore (modern interpretations) the sago that are now at Tudor Place are the third generation offshoots of the original purchased by Martha and Thomas Peter at Pratt’s Garden in 1813 while they were in Philadelphia visiting their daughter Columbia who was at school there (Madame Rivardi’s School). According to the story, the sago was one of three live specimens that were brought over on the Boston Tea Party ships that returned to Boston Harbor in 1775. One of the Sago’s was sent to Mount Vernon, one was sent to Governer Morris, and the last went to Pratt’s Garden where the Peters’ purchased it (or an offshoot).

These plants are part of the landscape identity of Tudor Place and are closely treated like pieces of the collection. They are overwintered in the conservatory and are displayed in the grounds during the warmer months. Although not trained in tropical plants, its been very fun to learn about the culture of this species and to begin caring for them. The current generation plants are around 80 years old. This can be determined by counting the vertical “rings” on the trunk. A fun aspect of sago is that they develop offshoots or pups quite regularly. On one recent occasion we decided to pot these up to raise as future generation sago at Tudor Place.


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