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Our Trachycarpus Towers

The lengths to which some people go in the pursuit of their hobby never fails to surprise and astound, but this surely is the ultimate!
Hans & Erika Hanisch, Ü senbergerstr. 20, 79346 Endingen, Germany
Chamaerops No.25 Winter 1996/97

Well worth the effort!

In 1983 we bought two Chusan palms (Trachycarpus fortunei) which were, at the time, 25cm tall. After spending the 1983/84 winter amongst various cacti on our bedroom windowsill, we planted them in May 1984 on the patio of our small 65 square metre garden.

At the beginning of December we built a first small winter shelter. which was made of 4 stakes covered with a polythene sheet. For heating, we installed a 25watt lightbulb under each cover which was switched on when temperatures dropped below -5ūC. We arranged a small flap to provide ventilation on sunny days.

The following winter, the original shelters were already too small and were replaced by a 2m tall by I .5m wide construction of timber covered with bubble plastic. The light bulbs weren't giving sufficient heat for this size shelter anymore and were replaced by 800watt automatic heaters equipped with thermostats. This way, the palms went through several more winters and gained considerably in size during the summers. In 1988, only four years after planting, the palms flowered for the first time
and were visited by thousands of bees.

Now, the palms were growing so fast that we had to build the shelters taller every year. We finally had to build with S x 5" timbers and without the help of our two sons-in-law and our neighbour. it would have been impossible to erect the timbers, cover them with bubble plastic and secure them. The shelters had reached a height of 6m by 2m wide in the meantime. Our palm- towers were equipped with a door for ventilation and access, and a 2000 watt oil fueled radiator each. To prevent damage from strong autumn and winter storms, we secured the shelters with steel cables to four sides. In summer, we have breakfast under our palms, and small parties.

Unfortunately, because of the massive efforts and because of our health (and our sanity?), we will not be able to protect the palms anymore in the future and hope for mild winters.


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