Martin Gibbons, c/o The Palm Centre
Chamaerops No. 18, published online 23-07-2002
on this article:
Click here to read them or to add your own.
It seems that London's romance with 'real exotica'
is over. Well, less of a romance, more of a brief encounter really.
How the hearts of London's palm enthusiasts - native and visitors
lifted when a line of Phoenix canariensis appeared down the centre
of Park Lane, one of the capital's major thoroughfares. Not large
plants, it must be said, about 4 or 5 feet high, but at least a
start. Protected from the north and east by the tall buildings of
Oxford Street and the West End, and open to the west and south with
a clear view of Hyde Park, it seemed the ideal location. If they
would thrive anywhere it would be here. We imagined the scene twenty
years on. But now, after only a couple of years (just establishing
nicely) I see they've been ripped out and unceremoniously dumped
in a communal planter (grave was the first word that sprang to mind)
by Marble Arch. Worse, they've been replaced by - you've guessed
it - Cordylines. Including some lovely stripey ones! Of course they
do make such attractive dot plants. And so exotic. Yuk!
The other thread of hope was the Phoenix canariensis
in the middle of the roundabout at Lambeth Bridge. This was much
bigger, in an equally protected spot, and looked very good. Now
however, after a similar period of time, I see it was never actually
even planted in the ground, but has been confined all this time
to a pot. Probably to make it easier to remove at the appropriate
moment to make way for a nice dot plant.
It may be that the only way to introduce exotica
into London parks and gardens is to 'Do It Yourself. Thus the famous
Chelsea Physic Garden in Chelsea now sports a good-sized young Jubaea
chilensis, courtesy of The Palm Centre. I figure that in about 50
years, it should be a dominant feature of the garden, if not of
London, and I'll still be young. I've also offered a couple of dozen
Trachycarpus to Richmond Park, but I can't seem to get them to take
the bait. Short of going there and planting them myself, I wonder
if they will ever get into the ground. They would look fabulous,
especially if planted amongst the Rhododendrons there.
Following many requests I'm going to throw my own
garden open to all and any members of the European Palm Society
who would care to visit. After its appearance on BBC's 'Gardener's
World' recently, I have been inundated with requests from so many
people who would like to see it that I can resist no longer! It
will open all day on Saturday 2nd September, from lOam to 6pm, and
all are welcome. I've no idea how many visitors will make the journey
into deepest Stockwell (south London), so you will have to take
pot luck on how soon you get in as it's not a huge garden and can
only accommodate a limited number of people at a time. The patient
will be able to see, among other treasures, Trithrinax acanthocoma,
Parajubaea cocoides, Chamaerops and blue Chamaerops. Trachy's of
a few different species, even a small Ceroxylon, squillions of bamboos
and ferns and lots of other plants too numerous to mention. The
address is 22 Guildford Road, London 5W8 (nearest Underground: Stockwell).
If you would like a sketch map, please send me a s.a.e. to the Palm
Centre. Thanks, and see you then!
I am often asked if there are any mature 'Waggies'
(Trachycarpus wagnerianus) growing outside in this country. I am
pleased to be able to tell you that Leonardslee Gardens in Sussex
boasts a very great number of these wonderful palms. At one time
there was talk that the two main groups of them there were in fact
a suckering form, even a suckering species. My personal opinion
is that several plants were simply planted together, or several
seeds, and as they sprouted, gave the impression that were all part
of the same plant. One sure way to tell would be to check the sex
of each trunk as it flowers. If all the stems on one clump turn
out to be the same sex, I'll just have to eat my words.
Since the beginnings of The European Palm Society
I've striven to keep my business interests separate from the EPS
and its magazine, Chamaerops. I hope you'll agree that I've largely
succeeded. However, I can't pass up this opportunity to tell you
about a plant that many members have asked about since it was first
described in these pages.
It is Muse/la lasiocarpa, from Yunnan, in China, and an article
about it was published in edition 9, January 1993. A lot of people
asked whether it would ever become available. Well, since then I've
been working on that particular project, and I'm glad to say that
at last, I do have some plants ready now for anyone who is interested.
It is an incredible plant, yet I've never seen it in any magazine
or book and I just can't understand why. A banana-relative, it grows
to about 6 feet in height, then develops a big yellow flower on
top of the thick, conical stem. Peeling back the petals of this
flower reveals dozens of 'bananas' each full of shiny black seeds.
Amazing! Perfect as a conservatory plant, root-hardy, too. Phone
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18-01-19 - 02:05GMT
|| What's New?
|| New palm book
| Date: 24-05-2004
of Cultivated Palms
by Robert Lee Riffle, Paul Craft.
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by Mario Stähler
This german book tells you all about how to cultivate your palms in Central Europe. more...