Martin Gibbons, c/o The Palm Centre
Chamaerops No. 9, published online 23-09-2002
on this article:
Click here to read them or to add your own.
Goodbye To All That
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth (long may she reign)
described 1992 as her 'annus horribilis' and there are many who
would agree with her. With the deepening recession, increased interest
rates, an exchange rate against foreign currencies that went from
absolutely wonderful to absolutely dreadful without even pausing
for breath, an indifferent summer and a wild, wet and windy winter,
it's no wonder that many are glad to see the back of '92. In Ecuador
where I spent Christmas and New Year they have a wonderful custom,
which I think, we should adopt over here. The people make life-size
dummies, some quite realistic, which represent all the bad luck,
bad health and bad debts of the old year, and on the evening of
the 31st January they build bonfires on street corners, and burn
them! Thus the only people who begin the New Year with any bad luck
are the street cleaners who have to clear up the mess!
Apart from being an exciting place to spend this
holiday period, Ecuador is wonderful at any time of the year for
anyone interested on botany in general and palms in particular.
Probably most people will by now have heard of Parajubaea cocoides,
that cool-hardy coconut palm look-alike that grows by the hundred
on the streets of Quito, the capital. And of course Ecuador is home
to many species of Ceroxylon, at 200 feet (60m) tall, long considered
the tallest growing plant in the world until the Californian Redwoods
stole that particular crown.
But I was quite unprepared for the sheer number
of species of palm and the enormous variety. Biodiversity, as it's
called, is something Ecuador is very good at, as it were, due entirely
to the fact that the country (which is not large) has every conceivable
climate from snow covered mountaintops down to humid tropical lowland
rain forest, and everything in between.
And I was quite unprepared for palms like Mauritia,
so humungous and resembling nothing so much as a huge exploding
firework. Or Dictyocaryum, so perfect it could have been man-made.
Or the (by now) famous red-crownshafted palm growing on the Inca
Trail where, surprisingly, so many of the plants have a preponderance
towards red. Of course, there were many more, large and small, a
real paradise for the palm enthusiast. In a future issue, all will
be written up and you will able to read all about in due course,
so watch this space!
If you should ever want to hand somebody a stick
with which to beat you, arrange a 'Deliberate Mistake' competition
and invite readers to spot the error! I never realized that there
could be so many mistakes in 28 pages, and I feel thoroughly admonished,
and promise to take more care in future. In spite of all this nobody
spotted all three mistakes I deliberately made, only ones that were
unintentional! There were some very clever answers (22nd December
was a Sunday, not a Saturday, which it was, and the trip took 7/8
days not 6. This was also true. These from Chris Tapp) and lots
of spelling errors (Acrotrichum not Achrotrichum; Carpobrotus not
Carprodotus. These from G. T. B. Cooper). For the record the three
mistakes were: Page 8:10 metres not 10cms. Page 18: Naples is south
of Rome. Page 21: pH 8.5 is alkaline not acid. Sorry nobody won
the prize, but thanks to all who took part.
I suppose you could say that another deliberate
mistake was to omit a caption for the picture on the front cover.
In fact it is the same Butia capitata that was featured in Chamaerops
issue 5, in January 1991. It is in Penzance. The cover of the previous
issue showed the glasshouse roof to be found in 'the City of Glass'
in Laeken. See this issue, page 16.
I don't want to sound like a gramophone record that's
stuck in a groove but I do want to remind you of our ever present
need for more members. We can only afford to produce this magazine
with a full complement of members, and we're some short.
I'd like to say 'thanks' to those who are regularly enrolling new
people, and to those members on the continent who heeded my request
to put a notice in their national gardening magazines. This, too,
has brought in some new people. But we still need more. The other
point that belongs in this paragraph is a request to renew your
membership promptly if and when it falls due. You will know it's
time for renewal if there is a letter with this issue, if so, don't
delay, renew today!
Finally, sincere apologies for the late arrival
of this issue. Holidays, Christmas, even sickness have all conspired
to delay its appearance. Hope you like the new style and will forgive
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21-01-21 - 02:22GMT
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