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Thanks For The Memory
Being fortunate enough to have been able to attend
the meeting in France in September, I want to say what a marvellous
event it was, and feel that those members unable to attend, certainly
It was a chance to see some wonderful specimens
of palms (and other exotics) and a privilege to be able to visit
some outstanding gardens that are not open to the public.
Just as important, it was an opportunity to meet
other EPS (and IFS) members from the UK, Ireland, France, Germany,
Sweden, Israel, USA, and of course many 'Fous de Palmiers' who made
us very welcome. We all got on so well with each other - one big
happy family! Language barriers weren't apparent; after all, a European
Fan Palm is 'Chamaerops' in any language!
The atmosphere was amazing, especially when 40 or
so excited people surrounded a Trithrinax campestris, cameras on
overdrive, all to the puzzled amazement of the locals! Equally amusing,
towards the end of the programme was a busload of Palm fanatics
being let loose in 4 acres of glasshouses absolutely crammed full
of palms - all for sale. The frustration of it all! (I was due to
come home by air).
My thanks go to all those who made this a meeting
to remember, to Martin, and to Tony King, and especially to our
French colleagues who organized it all and provided the use of their
cars on occasion - merci beaucoup indeed.
Finally, attending this meeting has made me realize
that there are others who are as obsessed, excited by, and as nutty
as me about Palms! P.S. Thank goodness for MacDonald's!
Richard Darlow, Barvmsley
Palm Problem No. 943
EPS members discuss all sorts of palm problems in
the pages of Chamaerops. But they are unlikely to lose much sleep
over this one:
The Sri Lankan Daily News reports that residents
of the toddy-tapping regions of Sri Lanka are up in arms because
they are unable to sleep due to the noise associated with the production
of toddy (palm wine). The toddy is made by hanging pails under the
cut flowerstalk of the coconut palm, Cocos nucifera. Sap falls into
the pails, and is left to ferment for 10 days to produce an alcoholic
drink. Unfortunately, the sweet smell attracts monkeys, which feast
on the toddy and, wildly inebriated, hold raucous all night parties,
screeching and pail-banging till dawn. 'They drink themselves silly",
reports the paper, "and make an awesome din".
Gary Parker, Woking
On a recent holiday to Morocco, I saw thousands
of Date palms growing in the most unbelievably arid conditions,
all producing millions of dates. Why don't they plant these palms
in the drought- and poverty-stricken countries of the world like
Ethiopia and the Sudan? Surely they could be as productive there
as anywhere and would provide food and fuel for the hungry populations?
Mark Joseph, Shepherds Bush, London
Quite often the basis of articles in Chamaerops
is a journey and the wish to relate to others the memories, good
and bad, of what one has seen and experienced. For me it is different.
Because my work means that I am continually travelling (I am an
Alitalia air steward) I find it more interesting to be able to make
exciting discoveries hidden away in my own country and even in my
own city, Rome.
However, before continuing on this theme, I would
like to warmly thank all those who have written to me in response
to my letter 'Roman Carnival' published in an earlier edition of
Chamaerops. Especially Adrian Daniels and Roger Clark, who have
asked me various questions which I will try to answer later on.
First of all I would like to say a very simple thing
but which might be of interest, especially where our magazine is
concerned. Chamaerops is one of the more hardy of the palm family.
I have seen the one at Kew Gardens, planted in the ground, and in
wonderful condition, to the pleasure of all of our British friends.
However, not everyone knows that its nickname 'dwarf' is quite unjustified.
It is in fact a beautiful palm, which, here in Rome, can reach quite
notable heights far exceeding those of a 'dwarf' palm. It is quite
common to find it growing in parks, gardens and squares, and an
adult plant can reach a height of 6 metres (20ft). It is almost
an obligation when planning a garden to plant at least one or two
examples as it is part of our culture and our terrain. It is very
adaptable and can be planted as a 'single' if one has little space
or, as is more usual, in a group. This looks like a ball when young,
but with time and careful pruning, each trunk begins to take its
own form and direction, thus creating that much desired 'tropical'
interplay of curve and intertwining trunks.
However, it is no wonder that it is called a 'dwarf
palm when you think of the conditions where it usually grows in
the wild, along the Mediterranean coast, exposed to the hot sun,
near the sea, its roots searching for a hold in the scarce soil
on the rocky shoreline. Rainfall is rare, and the sandy soil soon
dries out. Under these severe conditions, it is a miracle that anything
grows successfully. Therefore anyone attempting to grow this palm
will be doing so in far superior conditions and consequently will
achieve much better results.
It grows well from seed, but slowly, so one has
to have a lot of patience.
Now for some questions I received: Adrian Daniels
has asked what the climate is like here in Rome. Well, it is not
bad, though it can get cold. The worst winter was in 1985 when,
in January, it actually snowed, and the temperature fell to -109C.
Everyone remembers that winter and I am reminded of it whenever
I try to convince people to grow 'tropical' plants. I always answer
that that winter was very much the exception, and that, for instance,
in 1989, it was so mild that Bougainvillea remained in flower for
the whole winter. January temperatures were 20-22'C in Rome. Just
now we are experiencing a very mild and humid winter and if the
temperature at night does go down as low as 25C, during the day
it averages 14-15'C. The sun is always warm in Rome, even in the
Adrian recommends that for a tropical effect, nothing
can beat Phormium and Fatsia japonica. I would like to add that
one should try Tetrapanax papifera - the Rice Paper plant.
To Roger, who possesses many Trachycarpus fortunei,
why don't you try growing round them Clematis or Mandevillea, which
gives out an intense perfume during the summer. That's all for now,
so 'Cino' from me till next time.
Dario Peso, Rome
A Neophyte's Story
Some 14 years ago I bought myself a 'Cabbage Tree
Palm' (Cordyline australis) and planted it straight out into the
garden. The plants had arrived by mail order and stood all of 8"
tall. During the first two years I moved it on three occasions in
search of the perfect spot. At the age of 10 it became interesting.
It began to branch and flower for the first time. Since then it
has flowered every year, sometimes giving two flowers at the same
time. This item of 'exotica' has turned my garden in to something
different, something special.
Since then I have planted a 'Palm Lily' (Yucca filamentosa
variegata) and a Chinese Windmill Palm (Trachycarpus fortunei) and
next year my European Fan Palm (Chamaerops humilis) will be ready
for planting out.
In years to come I will be able to sit beneath my
palms, drinking ice-cold beer on a summers day. Who wants to win
the lottery? Not me, just give me my garden and my palms, not forgetting
the ice-cold beer, of course. Happy palming, everybody.
Mike Sedman, Grimsby
Just dropping you an Antipodean note out of curiosity.
I have a general interest in palms and would therefore appreciate
some information about palms in England. A reply from you would
be delightful and would probably cause my Archontophoenix cunninghamiana
to drop its fruit in pleasure!
Specifics: According to a book I have recently read,
the following species of palm can be grown in Britain: Trachycarpus
fortunei, Phoenix canariensis, Chamaerops humilis. Jubaea chilensis
and Washingtonia filifera (it was the Encyclopaedia Britannica by
the way). Now, I have been to Britain 10 years ago (I was actually
born there) and the only palm I saw there was a trachycarpus in
Bournemouth. Admittedly at this tender age I was not on an exhaustive
search, but some of these species are hard to miss! The Jubaeas
around Melbourne are large enough to have noticeable gravitational
effects! Are these grown outside? If so, are they happy? (In a botanical,
not a philosophical sense). Do they fruit? Or should I burn said
Adam St. Clair, Melbourne, Australia
Yes, Trachycarpus are quite common, Chamaerops
less so, but all the species you mention do grow outdoors somewhere
within these isles, some in small - sometimes single numbers, though
the situation should change drastically in the 50 years or so our
members have anything to do with it!
But whether Washingtonia or Phoenix will ever
fruit, who knows? Even mature Jubaeas don't. M.G.
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23-04-17 - 13:49GMT
|| What's New?
|| New palm book
| Date: 24-05-2004
of Cultivated Palms
by Robert Lee Riffle, Paul Craft.
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has been published in the Members Area.
|| Archive complete!
| Date: 03-12-2002
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by Mario Stähler
This german book tells you all about how to cultivate your palms in Central Europe. more...