Letters

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Mad. Palms Sale
I was recently given a copy of the wonderful book 'Palms of Madagascar' by John Dransfield and Henk Beentje. Unfortunately, I already have it so wish to sell the duplicate. Brand new, cost £65, will accept £50/DM125/FF375. Additionally, I wish to sell 60 back copies of 'Principes', journal of the International Palm Society. In mint condition, they cover the years 1979-1993. I would accept £125/DM312,/FF950 for the collection. Please phone me on ++44 1392 467015 or write c/a the EPS.
Philippe Byrne

Chamaerops For Sale
I have a Chamaerops humilis in a 16 inch (40cm) pot. lt is about 4 feet (120cm) tall, with four side shoots as well as the main stem. No sensible offer refused!
Craig Snell, 49 Kilda Road, Highworth, Wilts

The Revoluition Continues...
Reading Jon Kenaghan's excellent article 'Viva Armata in Chamaerops 21 inspired me to take the plunge and plant my Brahea armata outside. This Mexican Blue palm had lived in its pot in my unheated conservatory for a couple of years but I felt it was old enough to go direct into the ground.
During a rare mild spell in early spring a position was found for the palm next to my drive. The site is a hot spot. seeing the sun for most of the day. The soil was improved with compost and shingle, the latter not needed so much due to east Anglia having only half the rainfall of parts of western Britain. Fortunately, this desert palm knows a thing or two about droughts.
Protection from the north wind is provided by the garage, and the house itself shelters the palm from the east winds. My blue palm is a talking point with my neighbours who cannot believe their eyes. I can often be seen talking to them until I'm blue in the face!
I also hope to plant out a specimen of Jubaea chilensis and Sabal minor later on. Hopefully these palms will settle in alongside my Butia capitata, Chamaerops, Phoenix canariensis, Rhapidophyllum and last but not least Trachycarpus fortunei and T. wagnerianus, xvhich all came through last winter unscathed. I hope this letter will encourage other readers to grow these palms outside and to report on the results to Chamaerops.
Robert Gooding, Ipswich, Suffolk

A Couple Of Questions
I have a couple of questions for Chamaerops. First, my two Phoenix roebelenii are coming into flower and I was wondering if the seed would be viable and are the sexes on separate plants. Secondly, I have a Chamaerops which is suckering quite well - can these suckers be taken off and rooted, and if so, what is the best method of doing it?
Anne Curley, Woodsmoor, Stockport

Yes, Phoenix sexes are on separate plants; hopefully you have one of each. lt is quite possible to produce viable seeds ~f this is the case, as long as they are at the same stage of development. You can help Nature by shaking pollen from the male onto the female flowers. Do this every day for a week, and keep your fingers crossed. Propagating Chamaerops from suckers is theoretically possible (just read any gardening book - of course, they would know, haha!) however I know of nobody who has ever successfully done it. If there is anyone out there who has managed it, (or who has tried and failed) PLEASE write in and let me know. Let's find out Wthere's there is any truth in the theory.
M.G.

Putting Down Roots?
My interest in palms stems from my desire to create a garden that would go some way to reminding me of my native New Zealand. I came to England in 1986 on a working holiday; 10 years on, and more work than holiday, I am still here.
I actually recall a fascination with palms beginning a couple of years prior to my departure from New Zealand. I was driving to a friends house when I saw two enormous palm trees in a front garden. I believe these would have been Phoenix canariensis, and were surely 50 to 60 feet tall.
I couldn't believe they could survive the Christchurch winter which, due to plenty of sunny clear days, had many quite severe night frosts. Our temperatures could fall to -5°C or less on occasion. On looking round the city I saw several smaller P. canariensis and numerous Trachycarpus palms.
Anyway, back to Doncaster where I now live. I have acquired several palms, mainly seedings: Butia, Nikau, Livistona chinensis, Sabal minor, all these are in their first or second years. they are all carefully looked after in a greenhouse. I also have three Trachys about 12" tall planted out in the front garden. these have all put on 3 to 4 leaves since March. I have two Washingtonias about 2 - 2 feet tall, which are in pots sunk into the ground, the same has been done to a 6ft Phoenix (I guess canariensis) which I bought from a regular nursery. lt has long slender leaves, seemingly a darker green than other P. canariensis I've seen.
The Washingtonias have acquired two new leaves each since I put them in the garden, but the Phoenix appears stationary at this stage. All the palms in the garden experiences several late frosts and apart from some browning to the tips of the Washingtonia leaves, seem to have suffered no ill effects.
The village just outside Doncaster where I live seems to be milder than other parts of Yorkshire. the minimum temperature last winter in my south facing front garden was -7°C, though this fortunately occurred a couple of times. I missed out on the -14°C experienced by towns not far from here.
As well as palms I have several other tender plants in the garden. In March I put out several 'house plants' as an experiment. They had been over-wintered in the greenhouse (min. temp. 3°C). A large (2ft spread) Christmas cactus in full flower lit up the front border in its pot. A smaller cutting of this planted directly in the soil survived several moderate frosts and is now actively growing.
Something that surprised me was Chamaedorea elegans only 4" tall also survived late spring frosts. I planted it in a north-facing border against a wall. The frost turned its few fronds a ghastly silvery colour. I gave it up as dead and planted bedding plants over it. At the end of August, I removed the bedding plants and discovered a S tall Chamaedorea! lt was a perfect shade of green with a new leaf just opening. lt will stay there with some fleece for winter protection, and we'll see what happens.
Perhaps some of the more experienced palm growers can advise me on the winter protection of Washingtonias? I really want to plant them in the soil, freeing them from their sunken pots. Would a small cloche over them on the coldest and windiest days suffice? the front garden soil is dry and well-drained even in winter. Or, should I put them in the greenhouse for the winter? If I did, would they continue to grow, given a minimum night-time temperature of about +3°C and day temps around 10-11°C?
Can anyone advise me how long it takes seedlings one or two years old to actually start looking like palms? I have 5 Phoenix dactylifera which I grew from date 'stones' planted in February. They are now putting up their second spear. Would it be 4-5 years before they develop a palm-like appearance?
I have several Cordylines and Phormiums and they all survived last winter with no damage, even a Dahlia bulb I left in the ground sprouted and is now in flower. Oh the joys of subtropical Doncaster!
Paul Saunders, Doncaster

To answer your questions: Wrap Washingtonias with an old blanket or - better - with hay or straw for the winter. They may emerge a bit yellow, but will carry on as normal in the spring. They would continue to grow in the greenhouse with those low temperatures but extremely slowly. Phoenix, given heat, will produce the first split leaves after a year, in lower temperatures, make that two. The same applies to Washingtonias. Heat is the thing!

Tropical Palms
In the hard climate place where I come from, Sweden, nearly all palm trees have to be grown indoors. I have been doing this for some 10 years, after collecting seeds on tropical holidays. Several species that I have had success with are considered to be 'difficult' to cultivate in the home. These include Thrinax, Sabal yapa, and AttalesVOrbignya. This last one I find surprisingly easy. lt puts up with being placed over a radiator without any problems. Of course, eventually it will grow too big; mature leaves are about 10m long!
In my living room climate certainly some species are more sensitive. Pritchardia, Ptychosperma, Dictyosperma, Coccothrinax, Raphia, for example are all more fussy about humidity but given additional care they can all be induced to grow.
Jan Andersson, Stockholm, Sweden

I began my indoor palm collection by using an old aquarium, and standing the newly germinated plants in it, in pots. With a glass sheet on the top, the humidity can be easily controlled and the whole thing can positioned on a shelf perhaps over a radiator to niaintain heat. lt is a very easy system to construct, and very attractive, especially with a light inside. lt was amazingly successful and I grew the most tropical species, with NO BROWN TIPS! I'm sure they didn't know they were away from home in the tropics.
For those with an interest in tropical (or any other) palms it's a wonderful way to grow them and a perfect introduction to a very interesting hobby. MG

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  06-12-19 - 16:12GMT
 What's New?
 New palm book
 Date: 24-05-2004

An Encyclopedia of Cultivated Palms
by Robert Lee Riffle, Paul Craft.
 New: Issue 48
 Date: 24-05-2004
Chamaerops 48
has been published in the Members Area.
 Archive complete!
 Date: 03-12-2002
All Chamaerops issues can now be found in the archive: More than 350 articles are on-line!
 Issues 13 to 16
 Date: 28-08-2002
Chamaerops mags 13, 14, 15 and 16 have been added to the members area. More than 250 articles are now online!
 42 as free pdf-file
 Date: 05-08-2002
Free Download! Chamaerops No. 42 can be downloaded for free to intruduce the new layout and size to our visitors
 Issues 17 to 20
 Date: 23-07-2002
Chamaerops mags 17, 18, 19 and 20 have been added to the members area. Now 218 articles online!
 Book List
 Date: 28-05-2001
Take a look at our brand new Book List edited by Carolyn Strudwick
 New Book
 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...