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.
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Bob Hood, 31 Sandmead Close, Morley, Leeds, LS27 9JL, UK
Chamaerops No.22, Spring Edition 1996
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
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
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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