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Stand Up And Be Planted
I found reading the latest issue of Chamaerops (my
first) an engrossing and captivating experience, and I wish to thank
all who participated in it. As I live in the Paris area and also
have a home near Nice, I am also a member of the French association
'Fous de Palmiers' whose latest policies might be of interest to
anyone who loves exotica. We were asked to write letters and to
besiege City Councils with demands insisting on the planting of
palms whenever possible, instead of those deciduous trees that are
but sticks for half the year. I have done so far west suburban Paris,
where Trachycarpus fortunei and Chamaerops humilis grow well (Sabal
minor and Rhapidophyllum hystrix should do even better) and will
in Nice where Ceroxylon and quite a few others have never been given
a try. Those among us, particularly in parts of Europe who are not
satisfied with palms in their gardens but want them in squares and
streets too, should follow suit. It is difficult to tell what the
outcome of this guerrilla war may be, but hopefully we shall see
our cherished plants (Yuccas and Bamboos as well) become part of
Alan & Blandine Frangi, Guyancourt, France.
Last year my wife and I decided to live permanently
in our house in the sunny Algarve in Portugal. We built the house
some years ago and we are now in the process of landscaping our
4500 sq. m. plot. Quite an exciting job with ample opportunities!
While visiting several nurseries/garden centres
we were caught by the beauty of palms, even the regular' ones such
as Washingtonia, Phoenix, Butia, Trachycarpus and Chamaerops, which
all grow in abundance here. This made us decide to plant mainly
palms in our palms in our new garden, so off we went and bought
several different kinds (all rather small, due to the high prices
for larger sizes). We found however that we (but also the people
in the garden centres) still have a great deal to learn about palm
trees: we were sold a Sabal minor for a Brahea armata, a Chamaerops
excelsa for a Trachycarpus fortunei, a Phoenix canariensis for a
P. reclinata. All this we found out later. But we were happy with
them; the start of our collection.
We found the book 'Identifying Palms' very useful
but we are very much aware that, when we want to make our choice
for a palm garden a reality, we will need a lot more help, assistance
The obvious thing to do was to join the European
Palm Society where a lot more knowledge and experience is available,
than we ourselves can acquire in many years.
As beginners we need answers to such questions as:
what books to buy (ISBN number please), which other palms would
be suitable for the Algarve climate, where can I buy seeds, what
is the best way to get them to germinate, which fertilizers should
we use, how much and how often, does humilis and excelsa' stand
for the size of the leaves or the plant, are there other Algarvian
members, how often is watering regularly' etc. etc.
Any advice or suggestion would be welcome, so anyone
who cares to assist us, please write/fax/ phone/visit. Frits Klaarenbeek,
Vila Maria, Estr. do Farol, Alfanzina, 8400 LAGOA, Portugal. Phone/fax
00 351 (0)82 358943.
You are very lucky in having a wonderful climate
in which to begin a palm garden. A few brief answers: 1. 'Palms
& Cycads Beyond the Tropics' by Keith Boyer, published by PACSOA,
Australia, ISBN 0 9S87931 6 6 will tell you all you need to know
about what palms to grow, how to germinate seed, landscaping with
palms etc. 2. For seed supplies in small quantities, write to Mrs.
Inge Hoffmann, 695 Joaquin Avenue, San Leandro, California, 94577,
USA. Phone/fax (415) 352 4291. 3. Humilis (low') and excelsa ('tall)
refer to the height of the palms rather than leaf size, but 'Chamaerops
excelsa' and Trachycarpus fortunei are one and the same plant. 4.
I'm sending you separately a list of other Portuguese members. I
hope others will also contact you with help and advice, and that
not too many take up your offer of a visit at the same time! MG.
I was recently given a 4ft Butia capitata as a birthday
present. I was so pleased with it. I planted it in the front garden
and it was doing well. Imagine my surprise when I came down one
morning to find it had been stolen. Someone had obviously seen it
go in, and had just ripped it out of the ground. Can you or any
of your readers suggest any ways of protecting valuable palms from
thieves? Mark Kettle, Little Venice, London.
I can think of a few ways: 1. Drive a long iron
spike into the ground next to the plant at angle of 45" Drill
a hook near the top of it and actually padlock the palm to it with
a length of chain. Leave this visible. 2. Chain link fencing laid
just under the surface of the ground in 3 or 4 strips around the
plant will prevent anyone getting a spade in and won 't interfere
with the lawnmower, or other plants. 3. Fit one of those security
floodlights, which are triggered by body heat. They're cheap and
very effective. Meanwhile if anyone has noticed a Butia appear in
anyone else's garden, let me know. MG.
A Bad Move
I am about to transplant a tallish Trachycarpus
and I am worried it may blow over, as it will be in quite a windy
place. Should I stake it, or perhaps use guy wires? Mike Collins,
Easy: If the new site is so windy that a Trachy
will blow over, then it's being planted in the wrong place! Wind
is much more of a limiting factor for Trachy's than cold Plant them
only in wind-free locations, or where they get at least some shelter.
Chamaerops humilis is a better bet for windy locations. MG.
Dioons In Perpignan
I write in French because my English is not so good!
A paragraph at the end of the Editorial in the Autumn
93 edition of Chamaerops bemoaned the lack of articles by Continental
members so here is a small contribution from me, and I hope it will
add to the knowledge of the cultivation of Cycads.
For several years I have been growing two Dioon
edule cycads in my garden in Perpignan, in the south of France.
Every year the plants put up new leaves, without problems, usually
in midsummer. The aspect is south, and there is some protection
afforded by a Golden Cypress and some Thujas. The only problem is
that the plants are sensitive to frost and every winter when the
temperature dips to 0°C (which it does most years) the leaves
get damaged and it's necessary to wait till the following summer
until they are replaced.
However last winter, I got wise, paid close attention
to the weather forecast and the thermometer in the garden, and when
the promised cold weather arrived I was ready with protection for
my Cycads in the form of blankets, weighted down with stones against
the wind. The resultant lack of damage made the small effort of
protection worth- while, and it's a good feeling to see the plants
in perfect health.
Philippe Gonzales, Perpignan, France.
Translated by moi whose French is also not so
Help In Hants
I thought I would write a short letter to accompany
my article 'Palms in Hampshire', which I hope is worthy enough to
print in Chamaerops.
As I have said in the article, one of my presents
at Christmas was membership of the European Palm Society as I am
nuts about palms. My pride and joy is my Phoenix canariensis, which
I purchased last autumn. I was originally going to wait until the
spring to plant it out in the garden but as I couldn't afford a
big enough pot to accommodate it I decided not to wait. I dug a
deep hole about 2 feet in diameter, and added good topsoil and bonemeal.
The position is facing south and is protected from the north so
the plant gets plenty of sunshine and its leaves are a good deep
green colour. It was only protected once during the winter and suffered
no visible damage; in fact it has several new shoots.
I would like to ask your advice about some Washingtonia
filifera. They are in a tub, planted in a group of 3, and as they
are all increasing in height as well as girth I would like to know
if it is possible to separate them, and how I can do it without
damaging the plants. I have tried to do this once before but only
one of the plants survived and even it lost all its leaves, and
is only now pushing up a new shoot. If they can't be separated,
will they be able to grow to maturity? I'd like to put them in the
Finally do you consider Syagrus romanzoffiana hardy
enough to grow outside in this country?
Nathan Wilson, Hampshire.
It is possible to separate the 3 plants but usually
the roots are so mixed up together that some damage is likely to
occur. If you really want just one plant, why not just cut the weaker
two off at ground level? Three plants together never grow as fast
as one, and this will give the survivor the best chance. Plant it
out by all means, sunny aspect of course, in well-drained soil and
hope for a mild, even hot, summer, though it will need protecting
for the first few winters, and subsequently if it gets really cold
Use hessian or an old blanket rather than plastic as Washingtonias
hate condensation and damp. See the article in Autumn 93's Chamaerops.
Syagrus is much less hardy and needs more heat
to grow well thus I don't really consider it suitable for the UK
Also they get rather tall and are consequently rather difficult
I hope to get your article in the next issue
of 'Chamaerops' MG.
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|| What's New?
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of Cultivated Palms
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This german book tells you all about how to cultivate your palms in Central Europe. more...