'A Life with Palms' would be a good alternative
title for this excellent article by Nicolas Eracle. From early beginnings
to a fully-fledged palm garden. Great stuff! by Nicolas Eracle, Route de Brent 30, 1817 Brent/Montreux,
Switzerland Chamaerops No.39, Summer Edition 2000
Left: Brahea armata with Lake Geneva in the background
Right: Trachycarpus fortunei
I've been a member of the EPS for one year, and
my passion for palm trees only grows. This is why I would like to
present to you the area of Lake Geneva, where I reside, and where
beautiful specimens of palm trees can be seen. Climatically, aside
from the Ticino, south of the Alps, our area is the most privileged
in Switzerland. The basin of Lake Geneva benefits from hot and sunny
summers; in fact, Geneva is the sunniest city in Switzerland between
May and September. The winters are often calm with little wind.
On the downside, when fog sets in, it can last for many weeks, especially
on the west half of the lake. This dull weather makes everything
seem a little sad. Under this gray cover, however, the lake is able
to retain the heat energy accumulated in the summer, and the temperature
remains constant, just above zero. The springs and the autumns are
often wet, but this is not an absolute rule. The average annual
minimum in the area is between -8°C and -10°C depending
on the location, which places us in zone 8. One notable exception
was in 1985, when the temperature fell to -17°C on the edges
of the lake.
As a child in Geneva, I liked to walk outside the
city to admire the gardens. One day, I fell nose to nose with two
superb Trachycarpus fortunei that were approximately 5 meters high.
The passion was born! From that day on, my dream was to have my
own house, a garden and palm trees! Unfortunately, although
there are beautiful Trachycarpus fortunei in Geneva, they are very
rare, which is unfortunate as the climate is favorable for them.
Lack of knowledge about the ability of many palms to resist cold
makes people hesitant to plant them outside; let's hope that certain
courageous people will show the way!