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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
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
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,
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.
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.
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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