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Martin Gibbons, c/o The Palm Centre

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The year is rushing by, not so many weeks before it‘s over and we‘re in 2001. Who ever would have imagined it? However, we have winter to get through first and I for one am gambling on the continuation of the lucky streak we (at least in the UK) have been having for 10 or 11 years now. We haven‘t had a severe winter since then, and each autumn I pray for ‚just one more mild winter. Please?‘ Evidence that it has been a long time since we had a ‚decent‘ winter can be seen all across London. Cordyline australis, which will be killed by a hard frost, can be seen in enormous sizes across and around the capital. After a bad winter these plants, which, at 8-10 feet are starting to get ‚interesting‘ are reduced to stumps, only to begin the cycle again, from suckers, which are put up in great numbers in the spring. Should you be unlucky enough to have this happen to you, don‘t be tempted to leave them all in place (there may be 15 or 20), or you will end up with a shapeless mass of shoots. Instead, choose the biggest and strongest, and remove the rest. With all the energy from the huge root ball that would have been supporting the parent plant, the lucky seedling will grow so fast it will make you head spin. With adequate watering, some good soil and the judicious application of fertilizer, within a very few years it will be back where it was.

Much has been written (not least in Chamaerops) over the years about protection of palms, and other exotics over the winter. But how to find it? Well, there is a way. If you have opted for on-line membership, you can browse all our back issues (well, many of them. More are being added all the time) using key words. Type in the word ‚snow‘ for example and all mentions of this word in all these back issues will be brought up on the screen for you to examine further. Or try ‚shelter‘, winter protection‘ or even ‚fleece‘ and you will be able to find everything that has been written on these subjects since the European Palm Society began.

Due to the enormous amount of work done by Toby and Rudolph Spanner, we are soon going to be back on track, and they are to be complimented. As it happens we have a good number of articles on hand at the moment, and I would like to thank all those who contribute to our magazine, regularly or intermittently. Would you perhaps like to write but don‘t know a subject? Here‘s a few suggestions to inspire you.

Interviews are really popular. Do you know a palm nut? Sit down for half an hour and chat to him (or her) about the things you would most like to know. Chances are, they‘re the kind of things that other members would like to know also. Take some notes, maybe write some questions down first and jot down the replies. You can easily re-construct the interview later and get it down in print. Or better even, tape the interview and simply type it later. The interviewee does not have to be well-known. Ordinary people often have the most interesting stories to tell.

Could you organize a quiz? The one we had before was very successful. How well do you know your palms and other exotics? Could you set 20 questions? Maybe you‘re a crossword fanatic. Could you design your own? Let us have it for Chamaerops.

Got a favourite palm book? Could you write 600 words (about the length of this Editorial) about it. Or 300? Get down who wrote it, how much it cost and what you think about it. Or maybe you‘ve come across one that you hate, or that is ‚replete with errors‘. Write about that one too. There are so many palm books about these days, a bit of guidance would go a long way.

Well, there‘s a few ideas to get you started. You could also write about favourite palms (up close and personal!), Botanic Gardens, where to see spectacular species, lesser known hardy palms, palm pests – a short series maybe.

The important thing is that you write something. Most people have a story in them and it‘s highly likely that our members would be interested in yours!

Enjoy this issue; it was written by people like you!

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