|Our hosts for the biennial meeting, the Association Fous de
Palmiers, planned an exciting itinerary with lectures from a diverse slate
of palm experts. The meeting was based in Hyères les Palmiers, a city
renowned for its gardens and parks, and included a visit to Parc Olbius
Riquier. The botanical garden, a former plant introduction site, has a palm
collection that includes venerable specimens of Jubaea chilensis (Fig.
1) and Washingtonia filifera (Back Cover).
Our group enjoyed
seeing familiar palms used in spectacular ways in private and public
gardens. The Villa Thuret featured fantastic specimens of Chamaerops
humilis, which, judging from their large size, must be of great age (Fig.
2). Those people not attending the post tour visited Villa Menton, a
stone’s throw from the Mediterranean Sea. The garden blends collections of
palms, conifers and subtropical exotic plants in an charming naturalist way
At Jardin du Rayol-Canodel, a garden dedicated to plants of Mediterranean
climates worldwide, the group caught glimpses of beautiful Rhopalostylis
sapida (Fig. 4) growing in a wet,
sheltered depression. We also marveled at an ancient cork oak, Australian
banksias, and pines overarching a rugged Mediterranean coastline. The
group also visited two large palm nurseries and were pleased to see the
commercial response to the growing interest in palms in southern France.
Attendees of the post tour went on to Elche, Spain and the Huerto del
Cura, a garden in the midst of Elche’s date palm grove intended for
contemplation of both plants and works of art (Fig.
5). The palm collection includes Trithrinax campestris (Fig.
6) and other species that are well suited to the dry climate of this
region. The group hiked to wild Chamaerops humilis in the foothills
of Parque Regional de Calbanque in Cartagena, Spain (Fig.
7). After Spain, the group continued to Corsica and Sicily, where we
toured private and public gardens, and then on to Rome and Naples. The Orto
Botanico of Naples was a particularly fascinating garden, as it grows a
large number of interesting palms, alongside conifers, cycads and
While in France, the group visited a botanical garden in the making, the
new Jardin du Palmier (Garden of the Palm Tree) in development on
Porquerolles Island. Horace Hobbs, IPS President gamely undertook the
planting of a Sabal bermudana to commemorate the IPS visit (Fig.
8). We look forward to watching the developments in this brand new palm
collection and to visiting that 2003 Biennial Sabal again someday