Letters

Your chance to air your news and views

Say It 'With Bananas
Even though my main interest is palms, I think the planting of Musa basjoo has given my garden the most authentic tropical effect. The sight of 15ft banana leaves swaying in the breeze can really transport you to tropical climes.
I have found over the years that rather than try to build them a cosy polythene shelter, or worse, chop their heads off and wrap some hessian or blanket around them, there is a better method. Before a hard frost, cut off all the lower leaves, leaving the top 3 or 4. Wrap all the trunks with one layer of fleece, then again with some shade netting, leaving a small gap for the centre leaf to grow through. The green net not only protects from frost but blends in perfectly with the garden.
As the top leaves get hit by frost and die, they will hang down and offer even more protection. Best of all you will find that when the sun gets on the plant, the centre leaf will continue to grow even in mid winter, during mild spells. This will in turn give a head start for the spring. Within 4 or 5 years the main trunk will flower, forming tiny bananas, then die back, and so on. I hope this will help others; who knows, before long you may have a small plantation.
Overbecks Garden in Salcombe, Devon has fruiting Musa basjoo, along with hundreds of Trachycarpus.
Paul Wilkes, Bristol, UK

Book Beview: 'Tropical Garden Plants'
by William Warren, published by Thames and Hudson.
Mr. Warren has written a superbly photographed book on tropical garden plants which usefully complements his earlier book 'The Tropical Garden'.
The topics covered vary from ornamental trees to foliage plants. The section on palms and palmlike plants reflects more the author's experience of palms while living in S.E. Asia rather than a broad selection of palms (e.g. there is no mention of any variety of Trachycarpus). A number of the flowering shrubs mentioned could be grown outside in the U.K. (e.g. hibiscus). Plants of different members of the same family could be swapped for English equivalents for example the Poinsettia euphorbia for Euphorbia griffithii 'fireglow'. The chapter on foliage plants illustrates the colourful impact of both large-leaved and spiky plants. The caladiums were particularly impressive and where hosta sized leaves indicated a plant that could be put outside in England once the risk of frost had passed, and repotted at the end of the season. The photos of the Cordyline fruticosa were stunning and their use outside would definitely give a tropical ambience to any garden. Some of the leaves of the ground cover plants such as Graptophyllum pictum looked very similar to the British ground cover plant ajuga tricolour.
Few of the vines and creepers could be left outside in our climate. They could, however, be grown in greenhouses and brought out for their flowering periods on trellises attached to planters.
A particularly interesting canna-like plant was the heliconia Also like cannas there were red leafed varieties, however it was their subtle flower spikes that easily differentiated the two plants. The section on ground cover showed the great variation in leaf variety that can be found in the humble coleus plant. The Pandanus pygmaeus looked very similar to varieties of carex.
Overall the book fired the imagination as to the potential of gardening in a tropical climate and gave many ideas regarding growing tropical looking plants in the U.K. For members with a warm climate, there is obviously more opportunity to try a wider selection of plants.
Martyn Graham, Sutton, Surrey, UK.

Video Wanted
The Society Europa-wide organised 4 big summer events over recent years: Kew, southern France, Rome and Spain. Unfortunately I have not been able to attend these meetings but I wonder whether someone took his video camcorder with him to film the no doubt wonderful gardens? In that case I would be much obliged if I could get a copy of these films on European standard VHS. Needless to say, all costs will be paid for.
Please contact Wim Takken, P. J. van Rijnstraat 60, 3904 HJ Veenendaal, Holland.

Late But Great
Although 'Chamaerops' is often published late, its articles are becoming more interesting. Letters and articles from members who had previously been restricted by language give the magazine a truly European feeling. Articles by Don Tollefson are especially interesting and informative. I imagine that every member has a slightly different experience with palms and I believe it is everyone's duty to write something about their experiences to share with the rest of us. It is selfish not to do so. All it takes is a few minutes time in putting down the ideas on paper, an envelope and a post stamp.
Stefan Mifsud, Paola, Malta.

Surplus Plants!
I am suffering from probably what many other members are suffering and that is an ever-increasing number of palms and other plants growing in a shrinking greenhouse/conservatory with the end result being an untidy and unruly collection of greenery that just doesn't make sense.
Over the last eight or nine years I have bought seeds a-plenty, acquired plants from various sources and collected my own seed and grown an incredible assortment of sub-tropical greenery.
I have grown and eaten bananas, grapefruit, tangerines, passion fruit and enjoyed the challenge and satisfaction of being able to do this in our conservatory.However, it has now come to the point where a decision must be taken, do I continue to fight my way through the foliage, do I throw the prize specimens on the compost heap (heaven forbid) or do I sell/swap most of the plants for outdoor 'sub-tropical' greenery. I have decided the latter is the most sensible option.
In this regard, I am therefore offering my plants for sale or for exchange for outdoor Bamboo/ Phormium or Trachycarpus with a particular desire to obtain a few good Phyllostachys plants and one more sizeable Trachy. I will briefly list the plants that have to go but for a more comprehensive list, anyone interested should post me a stamped, self-addressed envelope and I will be happy to send more details:
I Dypsis decaryi 10 feet; 2 Washingtonia filifera 7 feet; 5 Phoenix rupicola (?) 3 feet; I Butia yatay 4 feet; 5 Strelitzia reginae flowering size, Chamaedorea seifrizii, 3-4 year old Trachys, Cordyline seedlings etc etc. I also have a 12 foot tall Caryota mitis which must also go before it takes over my office completely! Any members after a specific plant please ring, I may have it.
John Woodhead, 2 Ganton Close, Whitby, N. Yorks, Y021 1LD, UK Phone 01947 601580.

Unwelcome Vsitor
Your request for a 'story' ('Chamaerops' 27) prompts me to write. December 96/January 97 was dreadful in West Cornwall. Three weeks day and night of subzero temperatures albeit not as low as January 87. A 2 foot stem Washingtonia and a small Syagrus romanzoffiana were the only outright deaths. I thought Butia capitata and Sabal palmetto would be lost as the 3 or 4 younger leaves and the new spear all pulled out rotten in April. But - by June - new growth appeared and now the plants are as vigorous as ever. I had worried that there was a single growing point but plainly this is not so. A few feet away, Brahea armata was untouched and of course, all Trachys, Chamaerops and Jubaea chilensis were undamaged . In my experience the latter is hardier in our climate than Cordyline australis.
A mild winter this year but now I have a new problem; an unwelcome visitor in a crowded greenhouse; a rat? a vole? I'm sure it's larger than a mouse. Whatever it is, it has eaten the leaves from growing-on palms. All were 5 to 7 leaf stage, say 10" tall. T. takil, Brahea edulis (!), 3 Hyophorbe verschaffeltii, Caryota mitis, Areca catechu, Archontophoenix cunninghamiana. They were eaten down to a small petiole cone and not a trace of the extensive greenery. Larger palms were untouched. Three pots of germinating Trachycarpus martianus and Chamaerops have had every single leaf nibbled off to the soil and even some of the seeds excavated and partially eaten. Other small seedlings were undamaged. As I write the saucers of 'Slaymore' have been undisturbed for 4 days. Perhaps it has eaten itself to death.
Rob Senior, Penzance, Cornwall, UK

Cornish Correction
With regard to the article, 'Cornish Collection' would members please note the following: The frosts suffered at Lamorran House have not been as extreme as stated in the article. The figure quoted (-16 deg.C) was solely due to my hurried and insufficient proof-reading of my own text. Since the early 70's there have been only 4 recorded frosts, the lowest being -8 deg.C (Jan 1987).
Also the area stated as 2 acres should in fact be 4 acres. Thanks to Lamorran House and EPS members for pointing out these inaccuracies.
Roy Clarke, Doncaster, S. Yorks, UK

 

  08-12-19 - 07:27GMT
 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...