Letters

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Let There Be Light
During the spring and early summer of 1994 I acquired seedlings of several species of palms ranging from 'temperate' Trachycarpus wagnerianus to 'tropical' Caryota. I wanted to grow these on and having no greenhouse I set aside a small area of the summerhouse approximately 150cm by 70cm. I laid a bed of horticultural sand 10cm deep on heavy duty polythene with a thermostatically-controlled heating cable to encourage root growth.
Realizing that some species require a high light situation, I decided to use natural light 'growlights' to supplement the modest amount of daylight available in the summerhouse. I use three lamps suspended equidistant at 50cm above the tops of the seedlings. Each lamp gives a spread of 100cm. During the summer I used them for 3 or 4 hours on dull days, and increased the time during the winter; it was really trial and error. The bulbs are 100w each and produce some heat which is also useful. The minimum air temperature is kept at 45°F using a small fan heater. In the future I hope to house the collection in a new conservatory, again with growlights to provide the right environment.
In the meantime all the palms survive, their leaves are a healthy green. They are grouped so that I can mist spray the tropical specimens. I had the following species which all require bright light: Brahea armata, Sabal palmetto, Livistona australis, Nannorrhops ritchiana, Jubaea chilensis, and two species of Phoenix. All these seedlings have now come through their second winter with only one casualty: the Brahea armata which I think I overwatered. All the others have doubled in size since I acquired them.
Additionally I now have two Trachycarpus wagnerianus, a Chamaedorea microspadix, a Livistona australis, and a Phoenix canariensis that I plan to plant out in the garden this year.
I hope this information encourages other enthusiasts to widen the range of palms grown. I plan to use these lamps outside and undercover next winter to help protect the small Phoenix canariensis (see letter by S. Furness in Chamaerops Edition 17). To be able to grow palms originating in many different countries and climates far outweighs the modestly increased size of the quarterly electricity bill.
I would like to contact other palm enthusiasts in the UK's south east and can be contacted at the following address.
Ray Barton, 61 Farriers Close, Martlesham Heath, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP5 7SN.

For Sale
For sale/exchange. The following are surplus to my collection: Furcraea longaeva x 2, Puya alpestris, Euphorbia resinifera, Aloe ferox, Aloe saponaria, Aloe suprafoliata, Aloe striata, Haworthia fasciata, Fortunella japonica, Aeonium undulatum x 3, A. balsamiferum, A. haworthii x 7, Aichryson sp. x 2, Opuntia lanceolata x 2, Crassula sp. (small), C. argentia (small) x 3, Cycas revoluta (6-7" stem), Notocactus concinnus x 2, Notocactus sp., Monvillea spregazinii (cristate), Epiphyllum x 'Astronaut', Zamia furfuracea (small, leafless), Agave americana (small) x 2, A. americana marginata (small) x 3, A. americana medio-picta (small), Brugmansia sanguinea (small) x 2.
If interested, please contact Richard Darlow, 106 Vaughn Road, Gawber, Barnsley, S75 2NJ, UK. Phone 01226 291474.

Snow Joke
In the last issue of 'Chamaerops', I note our editor's fears and comments in respect of low temperatures forecast and experienced in London in early December. On the 'mild' east coast up here in North Yorkshire the lowest temperature this winter up until Christmas was only -1°C with all sorts of plants still flowering and thriving in the mild conditions. The lowest temperature in most winters is rarely lower than -4°C and it is very unusual for temperatures to remain below 0°C during daylight hours due to the influence of the North Sea which is at present 2°C warmer than usual due to the previous hot summer.
However, the weather changed dramatically on Christmas Eve with 2ft of snow falling and temperatures forecast at -8°C on the coast. In reality, a few days later on the 28th and 29th the temperature fell to -14.3°C and failed to rise much above zero during the day. Disaster! I have already witnessed the effects of these conditions in the town on 'tender' plants which, over the last ten years, many people have been planting in their gardens.
I would say that 75% of all Cordylines (of all ages) have collapsed, and the limited number of Chusan palms here now have black fronds and look very sick indeed (including mine). The various Phormiums look dreadful and even the reliably hardy Fatsia japonica do not look at all happy.
I have spoken with staff in the local park who do not recall temperatures as low on the coast for many decades, and inform me that many plants in the park may have been badly damaged and may not recover. My hope is that people in the area respond positively to their losses and that plants now doused in Benlate in my own garden recover over the next few years. My Dicksonia antarctica (10 years old) and 5 year old Phoenix canariensis were covered with blankets and appear to have survived OK. But there's still a lot of winter to get through!
John Woodhead, Whitby, N. Yorks.

Temperate Request
I have been a European Palm Society member for a year now and I'm glad to say that I'm renewing my membership. I would like to make the point that whilst enjoying articles about holidays, sightings, location of palms and expeditions I feel that 'Temperate palms' are not always covered sufficiently. I fully appreciate that the results of these expeditions are of great benefit to the understanding of palms but may I suggest that we could all benefit from this knowledge in a 'helpful tips' page covering the growing and care of particular palms in each edition of Chamaerops.
Jeff Barden, Waterlooville, Hants.

Believe me, I would be delighted to publish such information and on a regular basis too, and contributions are always welcome. Maybe you'd like to start the ball rolling, Jeff? MG.

American Palm Fans
Are there any members out there who are fans of the cold hardy American palms, for example Sabal, Serenoa and Rhapidophyllum? We've heard through Chamaerops about specimens grown on the continent and in habitat in the USA but is anyone in the UK having any luck with them. It would be nice to hear through the magazine if anyone is experimenting with Sabal minor, Sabal palmetto, or Serenoa I'm sure their comments would make interesting reading. I hope when my plants get big enough to plant them out in the garden. My second question is whether anyone knows whether it is wise to attempt to separate two Sabal minor seedlings that are growing together in the same pot. I should imagine that their root systems are well-intertwined. They are both growing well and look healthy.
Craig Snell, Highworth, UK

It's always a risk but I think less of one with Sabal minor which seem to be almost indestructible. If these are your only plants I would leave things as they are, but if you've others it's worth a shot. MG.

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  16-12-19 - 12:18GMT
 What's New?
 New palm book
 Date: 24-05-2004

An Encyclopedia of Cultivated Palms
by Robert Lee Riffle, Paul Craft.
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Chamaerops 48
has been published in the Members Area.
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 Date: 03-12-2002
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 Date: 25-01-2001
'Palmen in Mitteleuropa'
by Mario Stähler
This german book tells you all about how to cultivate your palms in Central Europe. more...