Persimmon tree, variety, Nightingale
in background - pigeon pea tree
What it did do rather quickly, was grow tall with sparse branches. When it didn't grow many leaves I thought perhaps this was how a persimmon was meant to be - even though I'd seen pictures which showed otherwise. I tried planting some yarrow as ground cover and it did well when it rained, but otherwise the grass soon took over. Not luscious grass either - the brown, brittle variety.
pest damage, I suspect borers
I also noticed over the years, it being attacked by some sort of pest on the main trunk. I didn't do much about it, as I was busy building other parts of the garden. It was left to its own devices, until finally I decided it was time to cut my losses and plant something more appropriate today. So imagine my surprise when I went to visit it with the secateurs, I found a single fruit.
This grew despite the intense summer weather we saw recently. It wasn't enough to convince me to keep the tree however. As I inspected the trunk more closely, I found a surprising discovery.
New, vigorous shoots were fighting back under the borers nest, to save the trees life. It was the first time I saw thicker foliage being produced. I couldn't cut it down now. Something which can fight back after summer extremes and pest attack, could well be my best producer. Armed with a new plan, I decided to try a few things to help it along. Starting with the ground cover.
This was the state of the yarrow I found underneath all that grass. It was not meant to look like this either. I had fern-like yarrow growing in a semi shaded position in another part of the garden.
new yarrow growth in appropriate conditions
There has been one particular ground cover I have stumbled upon, which is super tough in our weather conditions however. It's the pelargonium citronellum (or lemon scented) variety, and can put out lush growth on minimal rainfall.
One of my propagation attempts ~ quick to strike and grow
That's what I want in a ground cover - rapid growth with minimum fuss to help create the kind of micro-climate, under the tree, to help minimise evaporation. The pelargonium leaves are hairy and designed not to lose moisture with intense temperatures.
So I cut back all that straggly growth, including the pest damage, and left the new shoots to do their thing. I won't get to eat that lone fruit, but I would have saved the tree. Pelargonium ground cover was soon planted underneath, then dressed with compost and mulch. I gave two watering cans worth of hydration, plus a seaweed tea. That should really do it for the rest of autumn.
Winter isn't too far away, and then its leaves will turn bright red and fall before it goes dormant. But it should burst to life again, in the next growing season. I want to encourage a bushier structure, so will be pruning again, next year.
The lesson I got from this hardy survivor was to (1) find a ground cover able to grow in weather extremes, and (2) don't be in a rush to discard something before observing carefully. This persimmon may yet prove to be a very abundant producer.