Palm Trees of Lake Geneva

(page 2)

To see the many palm trees around lake Geneva, one must travel to Montreux, a city that is located close to the east end of the lake. For decades Montreux has been making enormous efforts to increase its tourism and spread its image of a green city, with many species and a benign climate. The palm trees are part of that image here. The area is called the Swiss Riviera. Many Trachycarpus fortunei are planted on the edges of the lake and along the streets. They are also frequently seen in private gardens. There are also some nice Chamaerops and Butia. Recently two Brahea armata, two Washingtonia filifera, and a Trithrinax campestris were planted on the walk bordering the lake. Lovers of other plants will not be disappointed either, as Mimosas (Acacia delbata), olive-trees, pomegranates and rose bays may also be seen here, as well as the Musa basjoo.

In 1998, I had the chance to build my house on the edge of Montreux; my childhood dream had come true. My enthusiasm for palms being so great, I already saw the garden filled with them--and only them. However, after long debates with my wife, I agreed to plant more than palms alone in the garden. Like any beginner, I started by making errors. The first one was to plant a Trachycarpus of 60cm, a Butia of 70cm, and a Jubaea of 120cm that I had bought a few years before in Ticino, in October. Additionally, with compact soil that drained poorly and holes hardly larger than the pots, I really didn't have much chance. To cap it all, the winter of 1998-99 was the coldest in 13 years, with two days at -11°C right after a period of strong rain and snow. The Butia and the Jubaea rotted slowly in the spring of 1999. It made me regret my poorly thought out plantings bitterly. Fortunately, the Trachycarpus withstood this bad treatment without any problem, and I replanted it in a larger hole in the spring. I'd learned my first rule: plant at the beginning of the season, in large holes that are deep and well drained.

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