Martin Gibbons, c/o The Palm Centre
Chamaerops No. 11, published online 23-09-2002
on this article:
Click here to read them or to add your own.
Moving The Goal Posts
Rather than publish the regular apology for the
magazine being late, it seemed like a good idea to begin calling
the issues after the seasons, which allows a little more flexibility.
It's a bit tough on our southern hemisphere members, but I hope
they'll get used to it. So this is the summer '93 issue, and, hopefully,
by the time it's out, the sun will still be shining. Now, down to
I've made quite an exciting discovery. They say
you never stop learning, and after more years 'in the business'
than I care to admit to, I've just realized the importance of soil
mix. In the past I've tended to pot plants up in whatever I've had
to hand, with a vague wave in the direction of rain forest (peat)
or desert (loam), but that's as far as it went. Recently I did some
experimentation and potted up seedlings of the same species in different
mixes. Far and away the best was a very open mix consisting of up
to 40% chipped bark, 10 or more percent of a wonderful substance
newly available: Cocoa Bean shells, 10% perlite, some slow release
fertilizer, and the rest John Innes, a loam based compost. This
mix drains well, and needs watering regularly and often, but you
should see the difference!
Here are some examples: Chamaedorea metallica had
weak, thin, yellow leaves. When re-potted in the new mix, the very
next leaf was thick, leathery and almost black, with a slight sheen,
as it should be. Perfect! Musella lasiocarpa collected last year
in China were growing, just about, but looked weak. The leaves were
pale, tipped with dead tissue, and were growing slowly (very slowly
for a banana relative). When newly germinated seeds were potted
up in the new mix, they overtook 3-month-old plants grown in a proprietary
peat based compost in 3 weeks! They look in the peak of health,
perfect green leaves without a mark on them, and with a lovely carmine
tinge to the stem. Trachycarpus seedlings seem to grow at twice
the speed as when potted in a regular medium. Try it! And let me
know your results.
Would anyone out there like to volunteer some time
to the European Palm Society? We need somebody to promote the Society,
with a particular view to increasing our membership. He or she would
push for publicity in the gardening press in this country as well
as abroad, and arrange for regular insertions in other magazines
concerning what we stand for and what we do. Most gardening publications
will be happy to do this - they need to fill their pages too! Posters
might be considered, even attendance at shows and the like. I'll
help as much as I can. So if you think you might be able to help
in any way, or to take on the mantle in its entirety, please give
me a call, or write.
Would anyone out there care to do some research
and come up with an article on Araucaria araucana, better known
as the Monkey Puzzle Tree?
You will notice that the orientation of some of
the photos in this issue is wrong. In fact it's not a mistake but
it just so happened this time that most of the pictures supplied
to go with the various articles were the 'wrong' orientation, i.e.
'portrait' instead of 'landscape'. It's quite a major job getting
landscape shots from portrait negs. (cropping and enlarging and
all that) so I decided to leave them as they are. I know it means
turning the page to see them properly, but at least they're in,
and full size. So forgive me for your cricked necks, and I hope
it's not too much of a problem.
At the end of September, Tobias Spanner and I are
off on another 'Trachycarpus trek', this time to northwest Yunnan
province in China to check out a report that was written by the
Austrian botanist Heinrich Handel-Mazzetti in 1916 when he was exploring
this corner of the world. He reported seeing what he called Trachycarpus
martianus on the sheer faces of the Salween River Gorge (height
600m/2000ft!) almost at the point where China, Tibet and Burma meet.
He made some collections of leaves and other samples, and these
have been gathering dust in the Herbarium in Vienna ever since.
Austrian member Thomas Baumgartner investigated for us and found
them there, and Dr Dransfield of Kew kindly arranged to have them
sent over here for closer examination.
Well, Trachycarpus they certainly are but T. martianus
they are certainly not, but what are they? Big fortunei-like palms,
but with bare trunks, a real mystery! There is only one way to find
out the answer and that is to go there, so that's the plan for October.
After China, we're making a stop in north-east India to visit the
Khasia Hills, the locus classicus of the real Trachycarpus martianus
(at one time it was called Trachycarpus Khasianus) and it will be
very interesting to see it after all this time. Watch this space
for the full story!
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28-01-23 - 23:44GMT
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