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Martin Gibbons, c/o The Palm Centre
Chamaerops No. 1, published online 23-11-2002

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The formation of the European Palm Society and the publication of the first issue of its journal 'Chamaerops' is an exciting event for its three founder members, and the culmination of months of planning and hard work.

As interest in the study and cultivation of palms spreads, there grows alongside it a thirst for knowledge which cannot be satisfied by books alone, and it is hoped that this association and its magazine will help to fill the gap.

Palm enthusiasts throughout the world are served, and ably so, by the United States based International Palm Society, and we in the cooler climate of Europe have additionally enjoyed the benefits of membership of the 'Temperate Zone Chapter of that organization, which dealt more specifically with cool and cold growing palms. However, since its demise, many of us have been feeling at a loss, and missing its quarterly 'PQ' magazine. Thus the idea of the E.P.S. was born.

Over several meetings, the three of us decided to launch the new society and to structure it so that it would appeal not only to the dedicated palm grower but also to those whose interest in exotic plants is wider than this. Those who are keen on Cycads, Yuccas, Agaves, Cordylines, Tree ferns etc., groups of plants the study of which is perhaps even more specific than with palms, should not thereby feel left out.

However, it should not be imagined that the aims of this new society are to cater only for those wishing to grow palms in cool climates. It is, in every sense of the word, a "European" society, and members from all over the continent: North, South, East and West, are welcome. We hope to publish articles of interest to palm lovers everywhere, hot, cold, and in between, from Sweden to Sicily, from the U.K. to the U.S.S.R.

This editorial would not be complete without a large debt of gratitude being paid to Mrs Tamar Myers, of Pennsylvania, U.S.A., for 7 years the editor, producer, publisher and distributor of "The Palm Quarterly" magazine referred to above. Her many fans will be p leased to know that she will be writing a regular column for Chamaerops ', beginning with this issue; she is not gone, and certainly not forgotten!

It was tempting to compare her 'term of office' with that of our ex-Prime Minister, Mrs Margaret Thatcher, especially as they both resigned at about the same time, and both resignations in a way signalled the end of an era. But, as they say, a week is a long time in politics and by the time this is published the analogy will probably be lost.

I think it is true to say that Tamar focussed attention, perhaps for the first time, on temperate-growing palms, as an issue separate from that general interest in palms, so closely associated in most peoples' minds with the tropics, and holidays in the sun. Indeed, the use of the palm tree as a symbol of all things tropical is so common and widespread, that the public at large feel a certain familiarity with the subject, even though they would probably be surprised to learn that there are palms other than coconuts and dates.

Most people are taken aback to learn that there are nearly 3000 palms other than coconuts and dates, and frankly incredulous when told that more than just a handful put up with extreme cold, and will thrive, outside, in the ground, year round, in all but the coldest and least hospitable areas of our continent.

With the help of even modest protection against the worst of the winter weather, this number can certainly be increased, and those keen enough, dedicated enough, or perhaps crazy enough to go to more elaborate lengths have a great number of species from which to choose. If warmth, even of only a few degrees, can be provided, then the plant's hardiness to cold ceases to be an issue; attention then can swing away from which species can stand the most cold, or frost, or snow, and can focus instead on which palms will thrive and grow well in our often less than-tropical summers. The list is long.

However, if the idea of heating your garden fills you with alarm, don't despair! With a little care in terms of choice of species and a little common sense in terms of positioning, there are several excellent and worthwhile palms to grow which need no pampering at all.

With this and subsequent issues however, we hope to cover the entire spectrum. From the Needle Palm (Rhapidophyllum hystrix) - hardy down to around -20° centigrade, but oh so slow-growing in all but the warmest areas - to the Washington Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera) which needs 'serious protection' in cold winters but grows like a rocket in the summer, there is a palm for every climate, every taste, every pocket, and every gardener, be he inventive and resourceful, or faint-hearted and fatalistic.

Finally, thank you for joining the European Palm Society - you are most welcome. Your comments and observations are much appreciated, and it is hoped that this magazine will stimulate correspondence and communication from and between its members. Letters, articles and photographs will be gladly received; indeed the E.P.S. and "Chamaerops" cannot function without them.

Now, as they say, read on...
Martin Gibbons - Editor
Tony King
John Churcher

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