A Palm Trip along the Via Aurelia

(page 3)

The east side of the city has many official buildings and hotels, and these usually have nice little gardens, often planted with palms, including the rarer ones. Perhaps the most interesting of these is the 'Villa Communale'. Beside the expected species that hardly merit a second look amongst such a profusion of palms, one finds Brahea armata with its beautiful, blue leaves, and also a creeping specie of Brahea, probably B. dulcis, Livistonas, unusual heavily branching Phoenix dactylifera, P. roebelenii, and, best of all, a striking specimen of the extremely rare Trithrinax campestris, surely one of the world's most fabulous palms.

A small area near the park has recently been planted with many young palms including Sabal, Jubaea, Rhapis, even Chamaedorea and Caryota, which is certainly not noted for its frost tolerance. Let's hope it survives. Caryota has been tried on the Riviera before, but was killed by frost after a few years. It would surely be an uncommon, novel sight, (and fast growing!).

I guess the most interesting place to see palms in San Remo is the garden of the San Remo Auditorium, just a few hundred metres west of the Casino. It not only has one of the nicest collections of adult hardy palms, but is also very well cared for, unusual among the often neglected public gardens of the Riviera. Easily mistaken for a Washingtonia because it was so tall, I noticed an ancient Brahea armata, certainly well over a hundred years old. Brahea edulis is also there, along with Butia capitata (tasty fruits!), many tall Livistona australis, a beautiful Rhapidophyllum hystrix - the Needle palm - with, to prove it, ferocious long spines, Jubaea chilensis, Rhapis excelsa, Sabals minor and palmetto, a Trachycarpus 'Wagnerianus' (appropriate for the Auditorium garden I thought, hoho!), and a heavily armed (don't touch), multi-trunked specimen of the fantastic, blue leaved Trithrinax campestris. It's cousin is also there, Trithrinax acanthocoma, from a distance looking for all the world like a sophisticated Trachycarpus fortunei, until you get up close and notice the trunk tightly bound with an intricate network of spines and fibres. Beautiful!

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