Martin Gibbons, c/o The Palm Centre

It seems only a few days ago that I was writing the Editorial to Edition 28, but three months have somehow slipped by and it's March already, high time to publish the January issue of our magazine, a comfortable and by now traditional eight weeks late. Fortunately, palm lovers are a patient lot (anyone who plants a Jubaea seed just has to be) and nobody seems to mind too much, for which I am everlastingly grateful.

In this regard, I have to say that my plea for articles was answered and now I find myself in the position of having to apologise to those members who have written pieces for Chamaerops and who will be disappointed not to see them in print in this issue. They will appear, I promise, in due course; on this occasion it is not a shortage of articles that has delayed production but a shortage of time.

Funny old winter wasn't it? In fact hardly a winter at all. The worst thing about it seems to have been not the cold but the wind. It cost me a big shade house (and not a little money), bat fortunately I wasn't here to witness it. If I had been I'd have probably tried to hang on to the thing and been whisked away like the man in the opening sequence of 'Twister'.

Lots of people have been telling me about so called tender plants that have survived the winter without damage. Even a Musa ensete refused to stay in its protective wrapping and burst through the top in February. Musa basjoo, Dicksonia tree ferns have all kept their leaves intact even when unprotected. The hardy palms have laughed at the weather. Spring is almost upon us; I think it's safe to breathe a sigh of relief now.

In my own garden in central London, there was not a shred of damage (if damage can be said to come in shreds) to any of my plants. Rhapis excelsa, R. multifida were untouched, as were Chamaedorea microspadix and C. radicalis, indeed the latter is already beginning to flower. Arenga engleri grew right through the winter months, what an astonishing-looking palm that one is. It seems to thrive in deep shade, and I guess benefits from the protection the overhanging plants and trees give it. The star of the show still has to be Trithrinax acanthocoma however. Magnificent looking, dark green glossy erect fan shaped leaves, it puts Trachycarpus in the shade. How odd and how sad that so few people want to grow it as a garden plant.

Worth a mention also is Cycas revoluta, much hardier than most people imagine, in reality as tough as old boots. The Trachycarpus oreophilus seems to have put a bit of a spurt on over the last few months too, after a desperately slow start. It now has a few character leaves and is already starting to look different from its Chinese cousin. Any palm enthusiast who doesn't grow T. martianus in their garden really should reconsider. Mine are growing so - well - magnificently, they are a sheer delight.

I can't help thinking back to the early days of my interest in palms (actually about 20 years ago when I was just a child). Then, even T. fortunei was considered exotic and wasn't at all easy to find. I was thrilled with my first plant, I installed it in the lawn and I'd sit in a deck chair and just look at it with pure pride and pleasure. The idea of other species of hardy palm was heart-stoppingly exciting. It was to be another 10 years before finally - I was able to get my hands on a T. martianus and I will never forget the day.

These days, however, it is so easy to buy a dozen species of hardy palm that people have become a bit blase about it. Why has that leaf got a brown tip, they ask sceptically. A brown tip I ask incredulously. A brown tip? That's a Trachycarpus martianus you're talking about, seed collected personally by me from trees overhanging the Moosmai Gorge in the Khasia Hills in north east India, cherished and loved for 5 years, and offered to you for a mere twenty nine pound ninety five. And you're quibbling about a brown tip? Probably dying, they sneer as they go off and buy a nice multi-coloured cordyline instead. I stomp off back to my office, muttering under my breath, leaving one of my young sales assistants to take their money. Time was, I'm thinking, time was....


  03-02-23 - 07:43GMT
 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...