Publication Article

Design Covered in Palms Honored – Visalia Times Delta

Visalia company wins state award for project heavy with fronds

A Tulare County landscaping company won top honors for a project that involved upgrading a Visalia home with about 300 palm trees – the heaviest of which weighed as much as four elephants.
Plant Systems Inc. of Exeter won California Landscape Contractors Association’s 2004 Presidential Trophy Award for the Best Residential Landscape.

The company had spent more than a year and a half designing, collecting and planting palms trees as heavy as 48,000 pounds and as tall as 60 feet around Ken Puryear and Alicia Holland’s 1-acre lot in The Lakes, a gated community in north-west Visalia. The award, presented to the best entry in a field of 127, recognized the project’s creativity and uniqueness in using about 80 types of palm trees to create a look inspired by the Mirage, a Las Vegas hotel. “They have a collection of palm trees in that job that is probably one of the foremost collections of plams in all of California,” said Gary Vallen, CLCA’s associate member director and judge for the contest.

“Although they were grown across California, the palm trees are indigenous to countries such as Madagascar, New Zealand and Chile,” Cox said. Criteria for the award also include grading, soil preparation, drainage, trees, shrubs, ground cover, sod, irrigation, water features and hardscape, such as pathways, patios and ponds, said Tara Stout, the association’s event manager. Cox, Plant Systems’ owner said this project was rewarding because he was given freedom to be creative. It also was unique because Cox had never been to Las Vegas before he was hired for the project.
“I didn’t know what the Mirage looked like,” he said,
No problem: “They [Puryear and Holland] have their own plane and everything, so we flew over and stayed the night.”

After a tour with a hotel groundskeeper, Cox was ready to draw up plans, which ultimately included arranging groups of palm trees in their own microclimates.
For instance, the protection from a taller palm tree allowed Plant Systems to plant palm trees that were more sensitive to extreme weather, he said.
Cox declined to comment on the project’s cost, but it is rising as more palm trees are added to the collection.

One of the most expensive palms at the Puryear/Holland home is the Chilean Wine Palm – a self-cleaning palm that has a trunk that is wider in its midsection than at the bottom and top, Cox said.
That tree can run $1,000 to $1,500 per foot, and home has four at least 20 feet tall, he said.
Cox said more palms are added regularly.

“I think over the years, they really acquired a taste for palm trees.”

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