Martin Gibbons, c/o The Palm Centre
Chamaerops No. 15, published online 23-08-2002
on this article:
Click here to read them or to add your own.
Chicken & Egg
A photographer phoned me up a few days ago and said
he was working for a firm that was about to publish a book on houseplants.
He needed to borrow some palms to illustrate the new hook. In fact
this happens quite regularly, not only for books but for magazine
articles too. I'm usually happy to oblige but I have started to
get a bit irritated by the fact that it's always the same plants
that people want to write about. It's always Kentias (Howeia) and
Parlour palms (Chamaedorea elegans). Just occasionally I will be
asked, if the publisher is really daring, for Caryota (always C.
mitis, which in my experience doesn't perform well as a house plant),
or Phoenix roebelenii.
I began to ponder on why nobody ever wants to write
about some of the more unusual palms, which make excellent houseplants.
I have asked one or two publishers about this and of course the
answer is always, 'Nobody's ever heard of them' to which I reply,
'well, nobody ever will hear of them if you don't write about them'.
To which they invariably say, 'What's the point in writing about
plants that are not generally available?' to which I always respond,
'Nobody can go into a garden centre or plant shop and ask for a
plant that they've never heard of or read about'. Which is why I
called this bit 'Chicken & Egg'; how is a demand created? Is
it up to garden centres to stock 'new' species and hope to sell
them, or is it up to authors to write about these new' plants and
hope that interested readers will ask around for them and create
a demand that way.
Now I'm going to let you in on a Trade Secret. With
all the 'rare & unusual' palms that I sell here at the Palm
Centre, 80% of my sales are on just two species: Trachycarpus (an
obvious one, and one that I'm very happy about) and - you've guessed
it - the Kentia palm! I've nothing against these; they are indeed
very elegant, very durable and very easy, but why do so few people
want to try anything a bit more out of the ordinary? One of the
big disappointments of this business is that I sell so few 'exotics'
and by that I certainly don't mean 'tropical' plants that need high
humidity to survive. I don't blame anyone for avoiding such treasures
as Licuala grandis, Livistona rotundifolia and - yes - Caryota mitis,
but, even though I push, push, push, it's very difficult to interest
the average customer in Neodypsis decaryi, Chambeyronia macrocarpa,
Pritchardia hillebrandii, Chamaedorea plumosa, Mascarena verschaffeltii
and others even though they make fabulous indoor plants. If people
don't ask for these palms, then garden centres will make no attempt
to stock them, and if they don't stock them they certainly won't
sell them. And if customers want to stick all the time with Kentias
and Parlour palms, we'll never see any change.
A big apology now to all those who ordered binders
for Chamaerops. These are now imminent and we will waste no time
in distributing them as soon as they arrive. As seems to be usual,
they took much longer to produce than expected and are still not
quite ready. As far as I am aware (and correct me if I'm wrong),
we are the only Palm Society or Chapter to have a binder for our
journal and if you haven't ordered one yet, please do so now. They
hold 24 issues of our magazine, they are top quality, blocked and
printed with our logo and the name of the society in gold and cost
£6.95 including post and packing for U.K. members and £8.50
for those on the continent. If you would like more details, just
phone for a leaflet. They will also be on sale at our meeting in
Meeting In France
Which brings me, spookily enough, to:
Our meeting in France. Due in no small part to the efforts of our
French colleagues, plans are now about finalized for our programme:
transport arranged, venues booked, speakers signed up. We will have
a good number of 'attendees' and I for one am looking forward to
meeting all those people whom I don't yet know. And in case they
want to meet me, I'm the tall one with the moustache! So, there's
just time to polish up your français, put some film in the
camera, arid make sure your passport is still valid, and off we
With This Issue
Woody Allen once said, 'A love affair is like a
shark; it has to keep moving forward to survive'. Well, Chamaerops
is a bit like that, so that's why with this issue we have a new
typeface, new layout, new design and even new page numbers. If you
like it, you can thank me, if you hate it, you can blame our designer,
Jeff Goddard! M.G.
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21-07-18 - 11:50GMT
|| 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...