Letters

Your chance to air your news and views

Frame Up
In May 1996 I planted a juvenile Trithrinax acanthocoma, purchased from the Palm Centre, outside in my garden. It settled in well but its first winter almost proved its last. I recorded a low of -10C, bitter east winds and a week when the temperature remained at or below 0 deg.C day and night. It was the harshest cold spell since January 1987 for southern England.
Throughout the winter the palm was protected by a sturdy screen. I made the screen using 4 small pallets each approximately 60cm x 60cm hinged together to form two pairs of frames. These could either be opened out to 90 degrees for palm protection or folded flat when not in use. I covered each pair of frames in heavy duty clear polythene secured using a staple gun. Each frame has a double layer of polythene with an air gap between of approximately 10cm. The frames were pre-treated with preservative so should last a good few years even though moisture collects between the layers of polythene. I stood the frames on bricks or blocks to gain extra height but they are ok stood directly on the soil as the polythene completely protects the timber frame. Each pair of frames was secured together using brass hooks and eyes for easy fixing.
Regrettably, lack of time prevented me from making a lid to cover the protection frames and I improvised by simply throwing an old coat over the top whenever the temperature dropped to 0C. I removed the frame completely at the end of May.
Initially the palm seemed not to have suffered at all but no new growth appeared in spring and in early June the centre spear pulled out with little effort. All the older leaves still looked healthy. By mid June the newest mature leaves started to go brown so I decided on drastic action The trunk measured 20cm high and 25cm circumference. I cut across the trunk with a hacksaw to see if the crown was still green and healthy in the centre. I did not cut completely through the trunk as this would have destroyed all of the old leaves but left a ‘rudder’ of trunk to support a few of the oldest but still healthy leaves. I found it necessary to reduce the trunk to 10cm in height before the centre showed no trace of rot.
Within a few days new growth started to emerge from the cut crown of my palm and by mid July two new leaves were forming. By the end of the summer four healthy new leaves had unfurled although they were much smaller than the ones they replaced and which had much longer petioles.
The moral for all palm growers in colder climates must be to take prompt action if the centre spear pulls out of any palm and do not leave recovery to chance. Nature needs a helping hand.
John Churcher, Fareham, UK.

For Sale
Hardy Opuntia pads available, small pads ú1, larger pads ú2 to ú3.50. All are easy to root. Other succulent plants also sometimes available inc. Agave americana and vars, parryi, filifera, lophantha, etc. Beschorneria yuccoides, Cotyledon orbiculata var Oblonga, Rosularia platyphylla, Sempervivum, Crassula, Sedum confusum. Seed from Hibiscus Syriacus mixed cultivars available. English grown Trachycarpus fortunei seed ú1 per 100. Seedlings and young plants also available. A few young Washingtonia robusta also ready soon. This makes an ideal fast growing garden palm, hardy with slight winter protection in frosty conditions. All items plus postage and packing. Cultural advice available. Please contact:
John Churcher 47, Grove Avenue, Fareham, Hants P016 9EZ, UK. Tel. 01705 326740.

Tropical Veenandaal
Maybe you have visited The Netherlands and as palm enthusiast you missed seeing palms along our roads and in our gardens. Are there no Dutch palm enthusiasts? We (Bert van de Weerd and I) were asked by a garden fair organiser to cheer up his garden fair with our (mainly) palms and bamboo. From time to time we look for publicity in the local papers and promote the wonderful subtropical plants live at markets. We are just plant lovers, not professionals, so it seemed fun to attend the garden fair and promote PALMS and the EPS and also the Dutch branch of the European Bamboo Society. A lot of work had to be done to get all the stuff organised, both the societies assisted us by sending promotional material. From 28th of April to the 2nd of May we were at the garden fair, unfortunately the weather was bad, but when the sun came out people attended our low budget garden. Many young people were interested in both palms and bamboos or jungle gardening. Maybe Veenendaal will change into a jungle within some time by the new gardening elite.
It seemed to me that more people are palm enthusiasts already, even in a tiny town like Veenendaal. Not all of them heard of the EPS, but maybe this will come, because once bitten by the palmbug.... Or maybe it’s because Veenendaal is Europe’s greenest town at the moment. Maybe therefore many Veenendalers love the beauty of plants in general and in particular love palms! I don’t know, but I think Holland is ready for PALMS. And maybe the traveller will meet more palms in the future in Dutch gardens.
Rini, Veenandaal, Netherlands. By email.

Let's Hear It For Wales
So many articles and books on growing tender plants in Britain extol the mild climates of Ireland, western Scotland and south-west England yet nearly all of them overlook the fact that the Welsh coast falls into the same category. My garden here in the north- east corner of Wales is situated about 10m above sea level on a south facing slope, the sea one and a half miles to the north, and the tidal Clwyd estuary a mile to the west. During the ten years I have been here I have come to the conclusion that we are potentially capable of growing many of the same plants here as they do in Devon and Cornwall.
Firstly Palms. Trachycarpus was a first, if obvious, acquisition. No hardiness problems here, though I hope I’ve given it more shelter from the wind than the one on the main road in Kimmel Bay, just outside the town of Rhyl. Another palm which has given me no problems as yet is Chamaerops humilis. One specimen is in the ground, another is in a pot for the moment and will be planted out later. I don’t have a max/min thermometer outside so I cannot give any accurate temperatures but last winter for example we had just one day of falling snow, though several with frost, one of which froze the bird bath solid. I am therefore please to be able to say that Phoenix canariensis, outside in its pot - came through unharmed. It, too is due to be planted out in due course.
Other plants which have survived here without protection include Fascicularia pitcairnifolia (in flower over last Christmas), Tetrapanax papyrifera, and Cuphea cyanea. This is a plant I cannot recommend too highly, it has survived every winter for the past six years, including the stinker of 95/96. In a mild winter, some of its branches always survive and then it starts flowering in April. In a bad winter it will be cut to the ground in which case it doesn’t start flowering until late July but either way it carries masses of small red tubular flowers until early December.
Beschorneria yuccoides, Nolina brevifolia, Puya chilensis, P. conquimbensis and Yucca whipplei are all happily surviving outside in pots with no protection. They will all eventually be planted in a special xerophytic bed which I hope to construct. Also going in will be several Aciphylla (bone hardy, but they look the part) the previously mentioned Phoenix, and a hardy Opuntia which may or may not take over in a big way.
Plants which have received temporary protection (fleece) are Musa basjoo and three species of Echium, though only when frost is expected. The leaves of the banana were burnt by an unusually early frost in October, but the stem remains sound and the central spear is still pushing out at a snail’s pace.
I am constantly trying out various plant combinations, since I believe that many of the above plants look wrong in a conventional border and are better grouped together. I find that some of the monocots fit in quite well: Kniphofia, Crocosmia, species Gladioli and Watsonia, though sadly, only some of the latter genera are reliably hardy.
Finally, I would be interested to hear from anyone else who grows Streptocarpus outside - this is as big a surprise to me as to anyone else, I overlooked it when digging up the Dahlias and Cannas last Autumn. Of course, if we have a real winter this year, I may well live to regret this last paragraph!
Einion Hughes, Rhyl, UK.

 

  12-11-18 - 19:49GMT
 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...