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Martin Gibbons, c/o The Palm Centre
Chamaerops No. 6, published online 23-10-2002

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Less is more

The more observant reader will notice that a subtle change has taken place to Chamaerops'. Instead of the A4 format, which was bulky, tricky to post, expensive to produce, and generally a bit cumbersome, we've now gone over to this A5 size which, I hope you'll agree, is neater, and easier to manage. It's also cheaper to produce, which means we can afford to have more pages and more colour photographs. We now have a super-sophisticated photocopier, which takes reductions and enlargements in its stride, so this is the look of the future and so much more convenient to read on the tube.

Green issues

Another change, that won't be so obvious, is that we've gone green! We're now using re-cycled paper (well it's 75% recycled paper can't find any 100% recycled stuff that our new super-sophisticated photocopier doesn't chew up and spit out). While my green leanings don't extend to knit-your-own-muesli or weave-your-own-yoghurt, it does seem to make sense to use second-hand paper, instead of the new stuff all the time. Even though it is more expensive.

A related change that we've made in that direction here at the nursery is that we now only use Coco-peat compost. There's been such a lot of publicity recently about the destruction of peat wetlands and the havoc that it wreaks; we've decided to make the change. The environmental benefit is two-fold: one, that it greatly helps the economies of developing countries where it's produced, and two, that it's made from a waste product that would probably otherwise be thrown away. If you haven't tried this coco-peat compost, do give it a try - it's wonderful! Not only is it really light and airy, it mixes well with other composts and soil, and it wets easily. It's also absolutely brilliant for sowing seeds since it holds the moisture well, and yet it's still light enough to allow the air to circulate. Essential for palms!

Enfin, les T-shirts

I'm pleased to be able to tell you that the T-shirts have finally arrived and are being sent out at the moment. Apologies are in order for the long delay, but first we had to wait to see if we were going to sell enough to make it worth while ordering them (they come from the U.S.A.). Then we had to wait while they were made and printed. Next we had to wait for them to get to England by surface mail (10 weeks) and finally the Post Office took 2 weeks to deliver them here. Anyway, here they are at last, and well in time for summer. Thanks are much in order here to Mrs Geri Prall of the South Florida chapter of the International Palm Society for the design, and for agreeing to organize the printing and production. Well done & thanks!

Wind up

If these editorial pages are the opportunity to express a personal point of view, I'd like to say a few words about my particular bête noir. It is that weather condition most loathed by us palm growers and that is wind, in all its many forms. I've never quite been unable to understand its function in life. It is the most destructive of Nature's many destructive forces (unless you count earthquakes and volcanic eruptions and we don't get too many of them in England). How often have I sat and watched the leaves of in inappropriately positioned Trachycarpus thrashing about, blasted this way and that, finally hanging down, broken and crippled, having given up the battle against vastly superior odds. The very best Trachycarpus fortunei always grow in areas that are not cursed by this damaging weather condition, or are at least well sheltered from the stormy gale. So take note, pick thy spot wisely lest ye be blasted.

It's nice to see the Trachycarpus flowers starting to appear again. Actually it would be more true to say that they first start to appear around October or November. Then, at least in climates such as ours, they go into a rather dormant state over the winter. However, they soon make up for lost time, and as soon as the weather begins to warm up, they carry on growing at an incredibly fast rate, and can grow several inches in a week. My oldest plant, now around 10 feet (3m) tall, is this year producing no less than 9 flower heads, more than it's ever produced before. Unfortunately, it, and the only other mature Trachycarpus I have in the garden, are both male trees, so no seeds will be produced. Even so, it's an annual spring event and I look forward to it.

Your move...

Two practical points next: First, if you change address, please be sure to advise the E.P.S. along with your bank, your employer, and your wife & kids. We've had a couple of issues returned, 'Moved - no forwarding address' and although we did subsequently discover where to send them, it would have been much easier to arrange it in advance. The other thing is, if your subscription is due (there will be a form herewith if it is), please renew promptly. It all helps to keep down costs.

Thanks to...

Thanks now, first to Stephen Becker, who again did most of the typing for this issue, and who sent it down on disc. Much appreciated. Also to Philip McErlean, who wrote the article on page 13 and who supplied wonderful photographs, one of which I used to illustrate somebody else's article (see page 22). A bit of a cheek really. Thanks also to all the other contributors, too numerous to mention.

Don't forget, we're always looking for articles from new contributors, and it would be nice if every member were to send in, say, one article each year, after all, everyone has some story to tell. Your turn next? Do provide photos or a sketch or two to illustrate the piece, and do put your name on the back of the photos, and on the article itself. Don't worry about your English if it's not your first language, we'll sort all that out with pleasure. Martin Gibbons

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