Notes from a New Member
Positively quivering with excitement, Howard writes
of the pleasure and relief of finding he is 'not alone'.
Howard Hale, 43 Richard Road, Broom Valley, Rotherham, S. Yorkshire
S60 2PQ, UK
Chamaerops No.30 Spring 1998
My love for tropical looking plants started several
years ago, following numerous trips to the Mediterranean and beyond
on my annual holidays, something I would imagine that has happened
to a lot of EPS members. I would travel around these warm, sun-kissed
places with my head in the air, constantly staring upwards at the
palm trees and yuccas wondering how nice it would be to be able
to grow some of these spiky beauties back home in South Yorkshire.
Well, little did I know that with a bit of effort and knowledge
as well as selecting the right plants, the exotic effect could be
I cannot claim to be an expert gardener or botanist,
having no formal training or qualifications in these fields. Indeed
I have trouble remembering all the Latin names for the collection
of plants that I have acquired, although they are slowly sinking
in However, I do not intend to write an article about a specific
plant or group of plants, (I think I will leave that to the experts)
or indeed about my garden, as proud as I am of it. No, I would like
to tell the readers of Chamaerops about my experiences with the
fine members of the society that I have had the privilege to meet.
Shortly after subscribing to the society I received
my first magazine which contained the marvellous article about Richard
Darlow's wonderful garden in Barnsley. I had seen this garden on
television on Gardeners World prior to this and had
always wished to visit it especially since Barnsley is only a very
short drive up the M1 motorway. So after a long and interesting
conversation on the phone with Richard, l was all set to visit the
The visit was extremely inspiring and encouraged me
to pursue even more my desire for an exotic looking garden. Richard
is an exceptionally nice person and couldnt do enough to make
me feel welcome. I had hundreds of questions to ask him and he was
only too pleased to answer them all with a great deal of enthusiasm.
He also put me in touch with one or two other members, both locally
and around the country, that have contacted since.
My first excursion was down to Chesterfield to visit
Trevor Keys national Yucca collection at Renishaw Hall. Again
Trevor treated me like a long lost friend and took great pleasure
in showing me around all of his collection, it was a day that I
will always remember, set in the wonderful grounds of this stately
home. Needless to say I came away from there with a small collection
of my own which are all growing well In my own garden.
My next encounter with EPS members was on PALM SUNDAY
the unbelievable day out at Greg Plentys and Richard Darlows
gardens, which has been well documented in Chamaerops no. 22. This
whole day was unbelievable and I, together with a large number of
other visitors, didnt want it to end. The people that I met
there were all fantastic and because of the common interest that
we all share we all got on very easily. I felt like a kid in a sweet
shop wanting to join into every conversation and share even my limited
information with others as well as listening intently to what was
said by the more experienced amongst us. I personally gained a lot
of knowledge and met a lot of new friends that day and I went home
with every intention of meeting some of them again.
Indeed on my next journey I drove all the way down
to Hampshire to visit a very knowledgeable and interesting man by
the name of John Churcher Johns garden is like an Aladdins
cave to the likes of myself, full of palms, yuccas, agaves, cactus
and numerous other exotics, including a number of plants that I
would have never thought possible to grow in the U.K. Talking to
John was more informative than reading a dozen text books and after
a very enlightening and very long day of being pampered and spoilt.
I left with a 'bootfull' of goodies to take home with me.
Closer to home I quickly made friends with local members
such as Roy Clarke from Doncaster and Dr. Simon Olpin from Sheffield.
Both of whom have written articles in Chamaerops and have marvellous
exotic gardens here in (sub tropical) South Yorkshire.
The icing on the cake, so far, has been the magnificently
organised trip to the English Riviera with Richard Darlow
and approximately 20 other members and partners. This get together
was a holiday that I will never forget. Initially I was a little
dubious about taking 5 days out of my limited annual holidays from
work, to take my sceptical wife on a gardening holiday, which I
must admit I thought would maybe turn out to be a my Trachycarpus
Is bigger than yours competition. But this couldnt have
been further from the truth. Everyone without exception was terrific
and we all got on like a house on fire.
The more experienced amongst the crew were only too
pleased to share their knowledge with the rest of us and I for one
came away with a much better understanding of how to grow, propagate
and even protect these beautiful plants that we all love. The people
themselves were from all walks of life varying from shop floor workers
to company directors, there was even a very entertaining doctor,
who along with his other half (also in the medical business) my
wife and myself shared a few very pleasant evenings together with,
indulging in beverages that I thought doctors frowned upon. The
number of people that we met and made friends with are too many
to name, but I must stress they were all absolutely marvellous,
and undoubtedly a lot of long lasting friendships will have been
made from this get together. It is nice to know that in this day
of increasing crime and violence that there are still people like
those I have had the good fortune to meet since I joined the European
Palm Society, and I would like to thank all the marvellous members
that I have met for being the way that they are and I would also
like to say a big thank you to the society for making this all possible.