Tobias W. Spanner, Tizianstr. 44, 80638 München,
Time flies and there just simply isn’t enough of it. Hard to believe I have let nearly a year pass since the last issue. I promise I will get out the next few issues in rapid succession. It is not that I have been lazy; to the contrary, I have just too much going on, as always. If anyone would like to help with editing articles or writing some, please just let me know. As the great response to the survey in issue 50 shows, lots of you have opinions and a few minutes to spare to give voice to them, so consider spending a few moments jotting down your experiences with your plants or even just posting a question.
We are such a varied society comprising so many different countries and that should result in a very interesting collection of stories and ideas. However, this may actually be one of our problems. As one reader noted, so many of our members are not native English speakers and--while it is one thing to enjoy reading the articles--it is quite another to write something for publication. Please do not let worries about writing “correctly” keep you from sending in submissions. We have a language editor who edits every submission (and every editorial!) for grammar, punctuation and the like, while trying to alter the piece as little as possible so as to retain the writer’s voice. Therefore, if it is the writing itself that concerns you, do not let this be an impediment to sharing your thoughts.
As I mentioned, the survey in issue 50 was a great success. We had 90 responses, about half by mail or e-mail, the other half as responses to the online version that was on the website for a while. Here are the results with a few of my comments:
1. When it comes to palms, do you have a professional interest or are you a hobbyist?
Professional interest: 12
Hobbyist : 78
2. For how many years have you been an EPS member?
1-2 years: 38
3-5 years: 23
6 or more years: 29
3. How likely are you to renew your EPS membership for 2005?
Very likely: 76
Somewhat likely: 10
Not likely: 0
Don‘t know: 4
[Ed.: I am especially happy to see this result!]
4. Which phrase best describes your interaction with the EPS journal Chamaerops?
I read almost every article: 68
I read some articles: 20
I just look at the pictures: 0
I rarely look at it at all: 2
[Ed.: It would also have been interesting to find out how many of you prefer the printed version over the website edition or vice versa.]
5. Approximately how often do you visit the EPS website?
Almost every day: 1
1 - 3 times each week: 15
1 - 3 times each month : 12
A few times per year but less than once per month: 19
I have internet access but rarely visit the EPS site: 12
I have no internet access: 7
[Ed.: Members who filled out the questionnaire online were more frequent visitors of the website, as I would have expected.]
6. How many other palm societies are you a member of?
Just the EPS: 63
The EPS and one other palm society: 22
The EPS and several other palm societies: 5
[Ed.: There was a significant difference between online and magazine questionnaires here. Only very few people who filled out the questionnaire online were members of another palm society. Quite honestly I am not sure what to make of that result, if anything.]
7. What other activities would you like the EPS to organize?
European meetings and plant trips: 30
Local meetings and tours of gardens: 40
Books on palms published by the EPS: 32
More activities on the EPS website : 13
I am happy with just Chamaerops: 13
[Ed. Here is your chance to get actively involved with the EPS: Organize a local or European meeting. I will be very happy to help with the organization, provide contacts and announce the event accordingly. Of course EPS funds can also be made available for the planning stage. As for books, we currently simply do not have the funds to invest in publications; however, I would be happy to publish a small book in the form of a special issue of Chamaerops.]
8. What solutions could you envision to fight our constant shortage of articles for Chamaerops?
Pay contributors: 3
Pay for articles by professionals: 11
Reprint more articles from other palm journals: 55
Reward contributors with free memberships: 26
[Ed.: Clearly I should be getting more material into Chamaerops from other palm publications. Considering that most of our members are not members of another palm society, at least according to the survey, there should be very few overlaps here.]
Other suggestions on how we might fight the shortage of articles (with editor’s comments):
“Get articles into print faster. It took at least 12 months for the article I wrote to appear in print.”
[Ed.: I apologize for this, really. We can’t put out an issue until there are enough articles, and even then articles get delayed because of spacing problems that don’t appear until the layout is done.]
“Contact previous authors about updating articles.”
[Ed.: This would be something I could use help with, contacting people for follow-ups, especially on garden articles.]
[Ed.: I think there has been plenty of pleading for articles since the EPS started out, and I have personally asked for articles in nearly every issue I have edited. Other than sending personal requests to every member of the EPS, I am not sure what more I can do in this area.]
“Reprint more articles from other palm journals. 1) Have a series of articles to cover topics in good detail, e.g., articles on palm botany. 2) Cover non-palm ‚exotic‘ plants.”
[Ed.: We have recently had the issue on germinating palm seeds. I would be happy to expand that. Please send in suggestions for popular themes.]
“Other rewards. Contributors are likely to be members already. Maybe award points per article to exchange for vouchers/gifts etc.”
[Ed.: Technically this is a good idea, but this would cause additional bureaucracy that we have nobody to attend to.]
“Maybe you could pay for one article for each issue by professionals.”
[Ed.: This is a suggestion that I will try to pursue.]
“Why not make some „photo reports“ of public gardens?”
[Ed.: As much as I would love to do this, we cannot put in any additional photographs as colour pages are more expensive than black and white. Until that changes, we need something written along with the photos in each issue. In general though, I would be happy to receive more picture contributions. If you have lots of digital pictures and can burn them on a CD and send them in I would warmly welcome such submissions even without any text.]
“If the magazine was published on a regular basis, I think people like myself would try and make a contribution.”
[Ed.: This is like deciding which came first, the chicken or the egg, if you can for a moment imagine that you are the chickens and the eggs are the articles. If I collect and hatch the eggs regularly there might be an increase in eggs (according to this respondent), but I cannot hatch the eggs regularly if there are no eggs to hatch. In other words, due to a continual lack of articles, the magazine comes out irregularly. Due to this irregularity, some people do not want to contribute. I will take some of the blame as I am also just a part-time farmer (if you will humour me to continue the metaphor a bit). I am trying to make as much time available as I can for Chamaerops, but unfortunately this is not the only thing I do, so please be easy on me.]
9. What is your age?
Under 30: 7
60 or older : 11
10. Ideas, comments, suggestions (again with editors comments):
“It would be very interesting to get seeds of rare palms and cycads or plants.”
[Ed.: Donations of seeds to the EPS would be warmly welcome. We will happily distribute any seeds. As for plants, perhaps that would be a bit too complicated, but maybe the EPS forum would be a good place to trade.]
“Free back issues.”
[Ed.: Our main problem with distributing back issues is postage costs; that is why they can’t be made available without any charge. Prices are pretty much as low as we can get them anyway.]
“New sections or columns in Chamaerops.” Suggestions for new sections or columns included:
• Advice on container grown palms.
[Ed.: Please write, even if it is just questions. I will be happy to answer.]
• A beginner’s corner – advice for novice.
[Ed.: Again, questions are welcome and I will be happy to answer them.]
• Palms with water features, i.e. ponds.
[Ed.: This would make a great article with photographs of some good examples if someone is willing to write it.]
• A questions and answers page.
[Ed.: Unless I suddenly get a lot of questions I would keep them in the Letters section. Someone needs to ask the questions though. Please don’t hesitate; as someone once said, the only stupid question is the one not asked.]
• Stories and photos of member’s gardens and how they have developed over the years.
[Ed.: This is a great article suggestion for anyone who has kept track of his/her garden’s progression in notes and in pictures. Additionally, it would be great if someone could come forward who has a little spare time to contact other authors who have written about their gardens in past Chamaerops issues and ask them to write a follow-up.]
“Try advertising in plant magazines.”
[Ed.: We would welcome any donation that would enable us to do so. A cheaper and perhaps more effective version that any member could do would be to contact a plant magazine you know or your local paper and tell them about your exotic garden. Papers and magazines are always looking for interesting material like this and may send around a reporter to cover the story. Mention the EPS and tell them what palms are all about.]
“Encourage more members to join the web site. By keeping them in touch they will be more likely to join in and contribute.”
[Ed.: Very true. www.palmsociety.org is a great website with an active forum to get in touch with other members. If you have not done so yet, please do try out the website.]
“I enjoy belonging to The EPS and using the web site. I look forward to the magazine but the members who do not use the web site must be lost and forgotten as the magazine is so infrequent.”
[Ed.: The situation is not ideal, but as I said I am trying the best I can. Anyone willing to help is very welcome.]
“It would be nice if Tobias and Martin would join in the discussions on the EPS web site. They both seem very distant.”
[Ed.: I can only speak for myself. I visit the forum on occasion and would like to do so more frequently; but, again, time is always an issue.]
“I think the main problem with the EPS has always been the late issue of articles. People become disillusioned. We need to find a way to ensure it goes out on time.”
[Ed.: I hate to repeat myself, but if I had more articles and more help with editing, Chamaerops would appear more punctually. Remember that we are a society that lives from members’ contributions.]
“Discounts on plant purchases through various outlets to EPS members.”
[Ed.: Since the EPS does not grow plants, that would really have to be an initiative of nurseries that would be willing to give discounts to EPS members. Somebody would need to work out a proposal and then approach nurseries to find out if they would be willing to participate.]
“The questionnaire should allow more than one answer to each question, i.e. I am both a professional and a hobbyist.”
[Ed.: Point taken. I guess in my mind someone who is “both” is a professional who is just lucky enough to really enjoy what he/she does for a living.]
“I think you should reserve a web site area to interchange different palms seeds on a free basis with other members.”
[Ed.: If there is a large enough group interested in this, we can certainly install such a feature. Since the EPS will have to pay for the installation, I would like to hear from more people before we do this. For now, anyone is welcome to use the forum for seed or plant offers--non-commercial, of course.]
“Seems fine as it is :-)”
“I was at the meeting at Kew last spring. It was most enjoyable and informative. This type of event is worthwhile and I would encourage more meetings.”
[Ed.: The main problem is usually finding someone to organize such an event. If I know well ahead of time I will be happy to announce meetings in Chamaerops or on the EPS website. I know of other plant societies that have regular meetings with talks etc., but someone needs to organize a room and speakers or approach botanical gardens for tours.]
“Set up feedback pages like on the rare palm seeds site. Tips, etc., for germinating various species. Could also build up a picture of which outlets provide the best seeds?”
[Ed.: Currently we just do not have the funds or the help to expand the website. Almost all of members’ dues currently go into the production of Chamaerops.]
“No pro garden journalists please.”
[Ed.: I don’t think it will ever come to that.]
This discussion provided a lot of helpful material and I hope we can keep some of this discussion going. Anyone ready to help put into practice any of the suggestions mentioned here please come forward!
Since renewals are due with this issue, at least for those who have not prepaid for two years, I hope all of you will rejoin speedily to minimize our administrative efforts and so that you will receive the next issues without interruption.