Letters

Pleasant Surprise
What a pleasant surprise to find 'Chamaerops' translated into French by 'Fous de Palmiers' Yann Corbel, and congratulations on the range of plants covered. Please find herewith my subscription for 1997. Greetings from a European Palmophile! All the best for 1997.
Michel Grandclaudon, St. Michel, France

Questions From Cadiz
Some questions for you, concerning growing palms here in Cadiz, in southern Spain. the palms I need to know about are as follows:
Bismarckia: Can it be grown in the sun, and what is its height and spread? What is its full name? Arenga engleri: The books say 'sun or shade'. Does this hold true for here? What is its height and spread? Chamaedorea metallica: I notice that the younger, potted plants grow almost out of the pot on thin but strong roots. When I plant them out next year, how deep should I plant them as it would not be fun having to dig them up to replant them every few years. Neodypsis decaryi: I need to know its approximate spread. What is a good general fertilizer for palms? If planting in a group, what is the closest possible planting that allows each plant to make reasonable growth. I realize that this must be a bit of a chore for you, hope you don't mind too much.
Jan Hegarty, Cadiz, Spain.

Bismarckia nobilis HILDEBRANDT & H. WENDL., to give it its full title, is a large palm that grows to 20m tall with a crown reaching to 7m in diam. ft must be grown in full sun and is not happy in shade. Arenga engleri can be grown in either sun or shade and even in Cadiz though I would suggest partial shade to have it looking its best. It is rather slow growing but reaches about 3m tall and as it is suckering, can eventually spread over an area of 30m in diameter. Plant your Chamaedorea metallica a few centimetres deeper than they were in the pot. Once in the ground, they will not push out anymore. Neodyp sis decaryi, or Dypsis decaryi as it should be called now, has a spread of 4 to 5m when mature with an upright crown.
A slow-release fertilizer with an N-P-K (Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium) ratio of 3-1-3 (like: 15-5-15), with magnesium and trace elements works best for most palms. Use as directed. Garden centres and especially agricultural suppliers usually carry a good selection.
Palms can be planted almost immediately next to each other and still grow fast if you select species of different sizes, growth rates and light requirements and if all are given ample water and nutrients. California has many amazing examples of tiny gardens filled with hundreds of palms, still looking absolutely breathtaking. Do not plant too many large, fast growing palms too close together but always a good distance apart and group around them slower or smaller, shade tolerant species. This way you can avoid group plantings becoming an entangled mess and having to replant and rearrange in 10 years time.
T.S.

Ray Of Sunshine
Spring will hopefully be well under way as you sit reading this letter. Gazing on a very bleak January view from my window, how could I have imagined that my garden looked a little overplanted last summer? To raise my spirits I spent an hour reviewing the articles from the many pioneers of exotica that have graced the pages of 'Chamaerops' over recent years and pondering on whether their gardens have flourished or not.
There are far too many to mention in detail but how about an update from some members particularly those who attempt to grow plants outside through severe winters at the limits of hardiness. Did Robert and Krystyne Jeanings (issue 17) get their Washingtonia and Phoenix planted? And from the same issue wouldn't a recent photo of Peter Tenerbaum's marvellous 'electric garden' speak a thousand words? And a question to Jon Kenahan (issue 21), 'Surely you offer that magnificent Brahea some protection?'
Last night I recorded an outside air temperature of -7ūC and I fear for my Phoenix, as well as several young palms including Chamaerops Sabal and Trachycarpus wagnerianus Living in a modern house with virtually no tree canopy to protect the garden, I have used the Jennings' idea of shade netting to offer some protection from wind-chill (this is the east coast) and hope to be able to cheat Mother Nature just a little.
The collective issues of Chamaerops contain many unique gardens and contributions from members on their travels, and are an inspiration.
Ray Barton, Ipswich, Suffolk, UK.

Suckering Trachycarpus?
With reference to the article 'Trachycarpus on Parade' in issue 24, I would like to tell you about my 'suckering' Trachy planted in a garden in Koblenz. The main plant is about 2m tall. The sucker is obviously coming from the main stem about 10 or 2Ocm below the surface. The direction of its growth indicates that it is a sucker, not a seedling, and in any case, the main plant does not have any seeds from which a young plant could grow. The sucker is about 30cm high and about 4 or 5 years old. It grows slowly because it is shaded by the main plant. Who knows, maybe you are right and the main item will die, but so far both plants look fresh and healthy. We will find out in due course!
I'm very nervous about my Phoenix canariensis (2m tall) in the garden; will it survive? It is well protected with an easy-to-build and easy-to-remove shelter, and a lot of fallen leaves. More about that one when I open the construction and see the palm next spring. Butia capitata survived several winters with frost down to -11ūC, protected only by some mulch, but it had some problems to recover from last winter (95/96) perhaps because the 'summer' was so cold and wet. How it survives this winter with -15ūC remains to k)e seen. I prefer to give the minimum of protection to my planted palms. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. I nearly lost a Chamaerops humilis last winter, due to a rotted heart. I could easily pull out the inner leaves. I thought, OK, that was it, but the remaining leaves stayed green and at the very end of summer new small leaves appeared in the centre. Never give up hope!
We are waiting for news about the meeting in Spain. We enjoyed the meeting in Rome so much. Now we can't wait to see our palm friends again. One thing is for sure: we will come!
Elmar Grimsehl, Nussloch, Germany

Scilly Season
Last September I had the good fortune to be involved in a conservation project on the island of St Mary's, Isles of Scilly, off the extreme tip of south-west England. The project was to restore a pond and reed beds on a bird and nature reserve. The weather was perfect - warm, sunny days and warm. clear nights. We were staying at a camp site at the old garrison where there was no light pollution. Each night the sky was a mass of stars; we would spend an hour or so when we got back from the pub just looking at them, and counting the number of shooting stars we could see.
But not being that much of an astronomer and more of a palm enthusiast I made the most of the opportunity to look at the palm population of the Scilly Isles. Hughtown, the main town, doesn't have a very big palm population, however there is a magnificent specimen of Phoenix canariensis in the centre. It must be 100 years old, and a firm favourite of mine. There is a second specimen, recently planted, in a small park and one or two in private gardens of houses around the island. but that's about all the exotica apart from a couple of very large Agave americana. It seems the locals haven't yet made the most of the palm potential of the island.
The highlight of my week was a day trip to Tresco, that Mecca for British palm enthusiasts. I have been there several times before but the place never fails to enthral me. As you approach by sea you can see the tops of the palm trees above the pines. I always have a feeling of anticipation and excitement even though I know more or less what I am going to see.
On arrival, and walking through the gates of Abbey gardens, one immediately notices a change in the atmosphere. It was another warm and sunny day but once inside the garden the air seemed even warmer and balmier. Even though there were many people in the garden, it was quiet apart from the singing of the birds. The first new planting I noticed was a 4ft (120cm) Nikau palm, Rhopalostylis sapida It was against a wall in a shady position, and as I walked along I noticed another and another, all more or less the same height.
As I walked up through the garden to the higher terraced part I saw another new addition, and another of my favourites, Brahea armata the Blue Hesper palm, growing happily on its own, in very good condition, standing out in its prominent position.
There is a mature Jubaea chilensis looking slightly the worse for wear, and a very good Butia capitata in quite good condition, as well as many Phoenix canariensis and P. dactylifera Musa basjoo the hardy banana, in lush clumps. is well represented.
On my return home I was full of enthusiasm for my own palm prospects, but this winter has pulled me up sharp. It's dealt me a 'doublewhammy': very severe cold spells (-8ūC in my small greenhouse, though all the palms survived, even a small Nikau, though it suffered some damage) but my Phoenix canariensis, my pride and joy, seems to have succumbed, and even my 4ft (120cm) Trachycarpus fortunei looks rather sorry for itself.
However, I hope spring is eternal, and time will tell!
Ken White, Shenfield, Essex, UK.

 

  06-12-19 - 15:57GMT
 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...