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Above: Uxbridge Trachycarpus. Below: Pigmy Waggie

"The New Exotic Garden" - Book Review

The editorial in Chamaerops 34 discussed the use of other exotic plants to complement our outdoor palm collections. Of particular note was the comment "the effect can be jaw-dropping".
I wish to draw to the attention of EPS members the recent release of an excellent book entitled "The New Exotic Garden" by Will Giles, published by Mitchell Beazley (Hardback, ISBN 1-84000-241-7)

With many stunning colour photographs it illustrates how to use hardy or near hardy exotics to introduce colour, texture and form to the cool temperate garden. The author discusses the use of hardy palms, bamboos, phormiums and other architectural evergreens to provide a permanent hardy structure and backbone. Three chapters then describe how to create each of the three main types of exotic garden :- the colourful tropical-look garden using contrasting textures and hot reds, oranges and yellows provided by plants like cannas, bananas, gingers, aroids, dahlias and coleus; the lush jungle-style garden incorporating hardy ferns, hostas and grasses into the evergreen background; and the dry mediterranean style garden using succulents, Yuccas and other drought resistant plants. Most gardens possess the microclimates to create at least two of these styles. The author then goes on to discuss the techniques he uses to grow and over-winter the main groups of exotics, namely cordylines, succulents, cannas, gingers, tree ferns, aroids, bananas, coleus and bamboo. The final chapter is a directory of exotic plants by genus with descriptions of the best species to use, heights, site and soil requirements and both U.K. and U.S. hardiness ratings. Refreshingly for us palm enthusiasts, the section on palms includes not only Trachycarpus and Chamaerops but also Brahea, Butia, Jubaea, Nannorrhops and Phoenix.

In conclusion, for dedicated palm lovers this book offers us the inspiration to turn our spiky green palm collections into the core of an exotic paradise - well worth the £17.99 asking price.
Alan Hindle, Dudley, UK

Click here to order the book at amazon.com


Pigmy Waggie

Back in 1992 I bought 130 Trachycarpus fortunei seeds and managed to get most of them to germinate. After about18 months I noticed that 3 had much smaller and stiffer leaves. I kept these to one side, as I didn't want to sell them or give them to friends and relatives. They are now quite definitely Waggies. All 3 grow at the same rate and have approximately the same number of leaves, but 1 is markedly smaller than the other two.
They all germinated in spring 1992, so they are about 8 years old. The two larger ones are 38 cm tall with 16 cm diameter leaves. The smaller one, however, is only 21 cm tall with a maximum leaf diameter of just 9 cm. As I already explained the growth rate is the same for all three, only the proportions are different. It will be interesting to see how thick (or thin) the trunk is, when it grows one. Do you know of any other Pigmy Waggies?

Thanks Dave, nice picture. Waggies seem to come in all shapes and sizes. We get them here sometimes with quite small leaves like yours, but I don't know if they retain this stature, or if it grows out as they get bigger. I suppose the ultimate is no leaf at all, just a collection of petiole stumps! I expect you're planning to plant them out; it will be interesting to see how they develop over the years.


World's Most Northerly Palm?

I am sending you a photo of the Trachycarpus Wageranius that I took to Iceland last summer, which is not only surviving -20C temps and 80 knots winds in almost total darkness, but has new leaves coming on. It is truly an amazing palm, grown on the 66°N parallel just below the Arctic Circle. Is this the most northerly palm in the world? My friend has it planted next to his 'hot tub' which may help its survival........just from what it sees in the hot tub, if not the warmth...!!
Hal Gamble


A Scenic Haven

I thought your readers would be interested in the following.
To sell: Largest outdoor Palm collection in central Europe, with property and house. About 120 rare species, plus thousands of other plants. House has a wonderful lake-view, 11 rooms, outside and inside swimming pool and whirlpool. Property is surrounded by protected forests, situated 60 m above Lago Maggiore. A scenic haven for plant lovers! Please contact P.O. Box 715, CH-6614, Brissago, Switzerland.



I wish to correct an error in my article "Winter Growth", page 16, Chamaerops 37. My Phoenix canariensis in the ground is protected when the temperature drops below minus three Celsius and not plus three Celcius as stated. On one icy, snowy night however, the palm was left unprotected causing the above-ground foliage to be killed. I pulled out a couple of rotting spears in late winter and poured in regular doses of fungicide until early summer. The palm soon grew back to it's original size over the summer.
Alan Hindle, Dudley, U.K.


Tales of a Rooftop Gardener

I have a flat roof extension which I converted to a walk-on balcony. It is south facing and is enjoyed by my small collection of palms, yuccas, and cordylines. The floor of the balcony is covered with heavy grade, green mineral felt. All the plants are obviously in pots; some have trays, but some don‘t to allow for better drainage. One plant from this latter category is a 90 cm Phoenix Canariensis in a 10“ pot. Recently it gave me and my pansy-and-petunia-loving wife (how boring) quite a shock. The Date palm had sent its roots through the pot drainage holes and bored its way into the roofing felt about 10-12“ in every direction. I was dumbfounded. I then had the task of carefully cutting away the felt to reveal a mass of beautiful, creamy white, healthy roots; and, of course, repotting the palm.
The outcome of this little episode? Well, my appreciation for the tenacity of palms has heightened while my wife is now even more determined to stick to her pansies and petunias. Needless to say, all my pots are now in trays.
Paul Hardy, Sheffield, U.K.


A Long Winter

Although I‘ve been an EPS member for 3 years, I‘ve never written. At the moment I‘m a little out of practice speaking English, but I hope you understand nevertheless. I always like the prefaces in ‘Chamaerops‘ best. I‘m a great fan of Trithrinax acanthocoma. I bought one such palm over 4 years ago and now it is almost 1 meter high. Last spring, after a long winter, it was clear that it had suffered. The new sprout was brown, and during the summer the palm grew really short fronds. Was this caused by dryness in winter or, perhaps, not having the right pH value after transplanting it to a new pot?
I‘d like to write an article about all my plants, palms and banana trees, for Chamaerops soon. For today, thank you very much and many kind regards.
Helga Baumgartner, Burghausen, Germany

Trithrinax acanthocoma is very tolerant to varying pH levels in the soil, so I‘m sure this was not the problem. It is more likely that dryness in the soil or prolonged exposure to cold and damp conditions was the cause. TS


Uxbridge Trachycarpus

I am writing to report on the marvelous stand of Trachycarpus fortunei growing in the grounds of Brunel University at Uxbridge.
I should explain that my wife and I met at Brunel in the mid-1970s where we both studied Chemistry, and although we have lived in the area since graduating, we have rarely returned to the campus. However, in April this year we attended a Chemistry Department reunion, along with Brunel graduates from the past 40 years, which gave us the opportunity to have a good look round.
The weather was awful, cold and wet, and made more depressing by the news of the imminent closure of the Chemistry Department, after 50 years at Uxbridge. Therefore, imagine our pleasure on finding that those "strange spiky plants" we remembered in the grass in front of the Biology-Chemistry building had grown into a fine stand of 22 Trachycarpus fortunei!
These are planted in two informal groups at the western end of the building, with a double row of 14 plants towards the east. All enjoy a southerly aspect and are protected by the building from the occasional cold north wind. As can be seen from the enclosed photographs, the plants are in fine condition and the abundant fruit indicates that they had all flowered the previous year.
I should add that in the 1970s I had absolutely no interest in palms and had, along with almost everyone else at Brunel, dismissed these "strange" plants and imagined that they would soon succumb to the cold. There must have been at least one palm enthusiast since. I understand that the young plants were given to the university by one of the professors. The lesson for all of us palm enthusiasts, (and others), is of course, that Trachycarpus fortunei and many other "hardy" palms can grow into magnificent features given sufficient time and favourable conditions. They certainly do an excellent job of hiding the otherwise unattractive concrete and glass buildings at Brunel.
Hopefully other institutions and local authorities can be encouraged to plant more palms now in order to provide a similarly impressive spectacle in 25 years time. We will certainly be returning to the campus later on in the summer to photograph these palms in flower.
N A J Hobbs, Uxbridge, Middlesex, U.K.

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