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Palm Sunday

An event originally billed as 'Northern Members Get Together' (see Chamaerops 21) turned out to be a truly national event. Bob Hood, new EPS member and friend of hosts Greg Plenty and Richard Darlow paints a word picture of the day.
Bob Hood, 31 Sandmead Close, Morley, Leeds, LS27 9JL, UK
Chamaerops No.22, Spring Edition 1996

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Photo: Happy Palmateers in Birstall, W, Yorkshire

South View Barn, Birstall, West Yorkshire:
An azure sky, brilliant sunshine and a cool, balmy breeze greeted EPS members, their partners and some children (future members?) as they arrived in West Yorkshire for the first stage sn what was to be a 'two resort' visit. From as far afield as Liverpool, London, the West Midlands and even Hampshire, they flocked to Southview Barn, Birstall, where Greg and Laura Plenty welcomed them with refreshing beverages after some very long journeys. People and plants spilled out of cars onto the drive at the rear of the majestic stone barn. Name badges were affixed and impromptu stalls were quickly established. The rear doors of John Woodhead's (Whitby) van opened to reveal an Aladdin's cave of palms and musaceous plants. John Churcher (Hampshire) adorned the garden wall with palms and succulents. In a corner by the garage, Richard Darlow displayed a variety of goodies on a table next to Trevor Key's array of Yuccas. Over the gentle hubbub of the market place, old acquaintances were re-established and new friendships made. Members, who, like me, had only been 'in the club' for a matter of months, learned from old hands who had been enthusiasts for years. always willing to share their 'exotic' plant experiences. Plants and cash changed hands, photographs shown and conversations inevitably centred on the collective passion. A stroll around Greg's garden - still being established, although taking shape, and containing many interesting varieties of palm and succulent, gave visitors a welcome break.

Suddenly, a hush descended on the throng as a BMW slowly ground its way up the incline leading to the back garden... Martin had arrived! What treasures did he bring from his peregrinations? What new and exciting palms would emerge from the cavernous boot? We soon found out: Trachycarpus 'sikkimensis', T. takil, Rhapidophyllum hystrix, Wallichia densiflora and (causing the most interest) seedlings of the as-yet-undescribed Trachycarpus 'oreophilus' were unloaded and arranged.

Lunchtime arrived! Laura (with a little help from her friends) had produced a veritable feast of hot & cold food washed down with strong Yorkshire tea. Some more chat, further bartering and photographs of the gathered multitudes (wide-angle lens required here) before a convoy of well-fed palm nuts set-off south for Barnsley and THE garden!

"Lea Palmiers", Barnsley, South Yorkshire:
Despite suffering the worst winter since the garden was established, and losing some really choice mature plants, "Lea Palmiers" was, all agreed, well worth the journey.

To meander around this truly unique setting on a bright, clear afternoon amongst like-minded aficionados must rank as one of life's great pleasures! In one corner of the north-facing upper end of the garden (damp and shaded) a magnificent Pinus radiata was complimented by Dicksonia antarctica in the other. Eucalyptus gunnii, Crinodendron hookerianum and Garrya eliptica stood in between, contrasting with the more familiar Fuschia, Hydrangeas and Camellias. The warm afternoon sun was welcomed by Lapageria rosen, Telopea oreades, Euphorbia mellifera and Abutilon megapotamicum amongst others. Beschorneria tubitlora, Aloe aristata and Abutilon x Suntense gave the garden a real Mediterranean feel.

The patio, resplendent with terracotta pots containing Aloe, Agave, Yucca, Strelitza, Citrus and, of course, palms - Brahea armata and Trithrinax acanthocoma - completed the illusion of being somewhere a little more exotic than Barnsley! For a more comprehensive report of Richard's garden and the plants therein, see Chamaerops No.21.

Richard's partner Christine had produced the second feast of the day - lots of diet-exploding cakes and confectionery and, of course, gallons of tea (aided and abetted by Richard's mum - a truly family effort!).

As the day closed and the shadows of eucalyptus, bamboo and palm grew ever longer, people drifted homeward. A day that had taken so much planning was, too quicldy for most, coming to an end. All agreed however, that they had experienced a truly remarkable day: a day that had started as an idea to gather a few Northern enthusiasts had blossomed into the largest gathering since inception of the EPS.

The membership must surely be optimistic about the future of their Society - when so many people are prepared to travel so far to share their enthusiasm for palms and other exotica.

On behalf of all EPS friends (old and new) who made the journey to Yorkshire on Sunday 5 May, I would like to thank Greg, Richard, Laura and Christine for throwing open their homes and gardens to us and for demonstrating such hospitality. This highly successful event must surely herald more visits...

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