Rambling on The Rock
A miscellany of palmy thoughts and observations,
inspired by the discovery of 'our own' Chamaerops growing happily
of The Rock of Gibraltar.
Vince Carr, 690 Whitton Avenue West, Northolt, Middlesex, UBS 4LA,
Chamaerops No. 13, published online 23-08-2002
on this article:
Click here to read them or to add your own.
Above: Phoenix canariensis in Lanzarote's black
Below: Tourist-eye view of the Rock of Gibraltar, home to Barbary
apes, and Chamaerops humilis.
What? Me write an article for Chamaerops, the august
journal of The European Palm Society? You must be kidding! I mean
each page takes a full 865 words and when you've never written an
article before that's an awful lot. And when all is said and done
I am after all just an ordinary member, not one of your very learned
variety. No field trips collecting palm seeds in Outer Mongolia
for me. No spouting of Botanical Latin either. It's difficult enough
to remember whether a leaf is pinnate, palmate or marmite.
So why me? Well I suppose like most of the EPS Members
I'm just a back yard palm fan (no, not a fan palm) dedicated to
growing something unusual. An admirer of the Victorians who started
palm and exotica collections in the first place.
An admirer also of the likes of Martin Gibbons of
the Palm Centre here in London and of Angus White of Architectural
Plants in Sussex who encourage the likes of me to turn their back
gardens into havens of exotica.
Instead of going to far away places with strange
sounding names like some lucky people, the annual package holiday
must suffice. The thing is, of course, that when many of us Brits
take our hols. We often end up in the Mediterranean or in the Canary
Islands. Like many others I'm fond of sunning myself on the beach,
like a good meal and an evening out but the other advantage of such
places is that they've nearly always got large palms growing outdoors.
Oh joy of joys!
Whilst I'm very fond of the Temperate House at Kew,
the annual package holiday allows me the luxury of living in a big
Warm Temperate Area for a whole two weeks. While in the resort I
like to hire some wheels and head out into the country where, lo
and behold, you'll often find palms growing. Not your sanitised
cluster of palms set around the hotel swimming pool but in the fields
or up the mountainside. All of a sudden the tourist belt becomes
Palm Nut Paradise. You can explore, photograph without restriction
and if you remember to pack your copy of Identifying Palms you can
have an interesting and educational visit. Last year I was fortunate
enough to visit Lanzarote in the Canaries and Andalucia in southern
It's known affectionately to the British lager lout
as Lanzagrotty due to the surface-of-the-moon-like nature of its
volcanic landscape where a Canary Island Date Palm (Phoenix canariensis)
stands out against the stark background scenery. It can be seen
for miles across the country whilst travelling the winding roads.
'Our own' Mediterranean Fan Palm (Chamaerops humilis) grows wild
on the exclusive Sotogrande estate in Andalucia, and whilst staying
there in the home of some family friends, I decided on a visit to
the top of the Rock of Gibraltar.
Main Street, Gibraltar was its usual busy self.
Tourists buying a whole variety of duty free goods. Brits and other
foreign nationals from Spain banking their pesetas and shopping
for British food in Safeway. However, a little out of town is a
cable car, and once aboard you ascend to the Upper Rock Nature Reserve.
Once past the tourist cafe and the cheeky apes being photographed,
there are paths along the top centre section of the Rock. An old
wartime gunnery position here, a goat track there.
Then suddenly, whilst looking down over the dockyard
where the tankers and cranes look like toytown objects, Chamaerops
humilis to be seen growing in the thin soil covering of the Rock.
It's amazing what you can find on an ordinary holiday,
and don't knock Bournemouth or Torquay. True, the palms have been
tastefully arranged by the local parks departments, but there they
are, waiting to be identified, photographed and admired.
Then when you get home to your own 60ft by 20ft
of back yard, can't you just picture a Trachycarpus fortunei (Chusan
Palm) here or a Butia capitata (Butia Palm) there? Maybe a Musa
basjoo (Japanese Banana) or Cupressus sempervirens (Italian Cypress).
Now who's spouting Botanical Latin! There's even the Cork Oak (Quercus
suber>), the Olive tree (Olea europaea) and the Lemon bush (Citrus
ichaegenis) all of which are reputedly hardy in parts of the UK,
to choose from. These are just a few suggestions to enable you to
jungle up your garden, to amaze a neighbour or to wake up a wife.
The point is that if you're an ordinary chap like
me then you can become your own palm and exotica expert. You can
have your own palm hunting expeditions even here in the UK. You
can have an unusual garden and if you're prepared to buy your specimen
plants when small, and wait, it needn't cost you an arm and a leg.
Furthermore, is there any reason why you shouldn't
write an 865-word article for Chamaerops? You are a palm enthusiast
amongst palm enthusiasts and if you enjoy your subject, you'll find
it easier than you think.
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09-08-20 - 11:15GMT
|| What's New?
|| New palm book
| Date: 24-05-2004
of Cultivated Palms
by Robert Lee Riffle, Paul Craft.
|| New: Issue 48
| Date: 24-05-2004
has been published in the Members Area.
|| Archive complete!
| Date: 03-12-2002
| All Chamaerops issues can now be found in the archive:
More than 350 articles are on-line!
|| Issues 13 to 16
| Date: 28-08-2002
| Chamaerops mags 13,
have been added to the members area. More than 250 articles are now online!
|| 42 as free pdf-file
| Date: 05-08-2002
Download! Chamaerops No. 42 can be downloaded for free to intruduce the new layout and size to
|| Issues 17 to 20
| Date: 23-07-2002
| Chamaerops mags 17,
have been added to the members area. Now 218 articles online!
|| Book List
| Date: 28-05-2001
a look at our brand new Book List edited by Carolyn Strudwick
|| New Book
| Date: 25-01-2001
by Mario Stähler
This german book tells you all about how to cultivate your palms in Central Europe. more...