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Martin Gibbons, c/o The Palm Centre

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Late Spring Issue

Don't seem to hear too many people talking about the greenhouse effect these days. Matter of fact, it's certainly been the coldest spring that I can ever remember (but then I'm quite young), and the weather all over Europe seems to be totally confused, either freezing cold with constant north and north-east winds as here or, further south in our continent, continual rain for days on end. Flooding even.

Since everyone else seems to be at it, I'll just tell you the successes and failures in my garden during the bitter weather. Failures: Parajubaea cocoides, Rhopalostylis 'Oceana', and a small Ceroxylon. I was a bit upset about the Parajubaea, but the other two were rather small so it wasn't much of a surprise. Successes though: Trachycarpus martianus, Trithrinax acanthacoma, Guihaia argyrata, Trachycarpus 'oreophilus', Cycas revoluta, Chamaedorea radicalis, and C. microspadix. Two of these I must single out as 'stars': Chamaedorea radicalis (which grew two leaves during a very cold March) and the Trithrinax which also sailed through the winter looking just fabulous.

However the weather doesn't seem to have affected business too much and the fact that we've been so busy here at the Palm Centre is the main - indeed the only - reason why this issue is so late. OK, I did take a small trip, to Los Angeles and Florida and, sandwiched neatly between them, (chronologically speaking) Mexico.

South Of The Border

My goodness there are some lovely palms in that country! We went primarily to see Braheas which we found in large measure - but we also saw several species of Sabal (I've completely changed my mind about this genus. After seeing them in the wild I can't imagine how I ever thought them 'dull'), Washingtonias, Chamaedoreas (living proof that they weren't invented by Dutch growers), and an obscure and rare species of the Rootspine Palm, Cryosophila nana. The Yuccas and cacti have to be seen to be believed, towering overhead, and stretching from one horizon to the other. What a paradise for the plantsman.

The country, too, is wonderful, with wide, straight roads, friendly people, great food, and beautiful scenery. I'd say it's America's best kept secret! We did 7,000 miles (12,000kms) in 10 days, (the care hire man got a shock when we returned the car) and barely touched half of the country. Favourite Mexican palm? Well, hard to choose between 7 or 8 species of Brahea that we saw. Perhaps Sabal uresana, with dramatic silvery-blue leaves that you can see from a couple of miles away. As is so often the case, I find it hard to understand why such a lovely palm is so rare in cultivation. The many trees we saw were producing thousands of seeds (and there is a large grove not so far from the USA border), and yet the number of trees in Botanic gardens that I know of, I could count of the fingers of one thumb. There is certainly a nice young plant at Huntingdon in California and everyone oooh's and aaah's at it as though it were a really rare species.

One palm that is certainly not so rare in cultivation is Brahea armata, and these we saw in large groves, growing in dry and arid canyons, often in association with Washingtonias. Surprisingly many of them are NOT blue, a bit of a disappointment really, but even so it's just wonderful to see palms in the wild that you know and love in cultivation, and you think of them in a different way from that moment on.

Great Northern Way

On Sunday 5th May as you will read elsewhere in this issue, the 'Northern Members Get-together' took place, well attended and not only by northerners. What a nice day! It's always a pleasure to meet other members of our society, to talk palms and generally indulge in our hobby. There is a full report later on, suffice it for me to say a big thanks! to Richard Darlow and Greg Plenty, and of course to their respective partners, for organizing the event, and especially for putting on such a feast. Well done, and thanks!

And talking of meetings, we've had a very good response to the notice about the European Palm Society Summer Meeting in Rome which everybody should have received by now. If you didn't get one, let me know. The dates are the last two days of August and the first two days of September. As soon as the programme is final. ized those who sent back the reply slips will receive full details of the agenda, details of the Botanic gardens and nurseries we will be visiting, and of course full details of the available accommodation. If you haven't made your mind up yet, please do so now, as we will soon have to close the list in order to finalize numbers and to make hotel reservations .

A Truly EPS

This just leaves me a little spot to announce a BIG development in the history of the European Palm Society. From this issue we hope to be able to provide a supplemnent containing a fall translation of Chamaerops into French, and from the next issue, into German. These will be at no extra cost to our many French and German members. We're becoming a truly European palm society! Martin Gibbons

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