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My Palm Inspiration

Message from Jim Wilmington DE 7a

I guess my inspiration on palm growing -- if I had to name one person -- would be Alfred Byrd Graf. He lived to be 100, dying in 2001. He wrote several seminal books on horticulture and botany, with particular emphasis on uncommon plants. In one of his books that I bought when a teenager, "Exotic Plant Manual", there was a small black & white photo of a Trachy growing in Edinburgh, Scotland. I immediately thought to myself, "I gotta get me one of those palms!"

I believe I acquired my first Trachy in the spring of 1980. I planted it in Lenni, PA. My protection was a mini greenhouse I built for it out of 2 by 4s and poly plastic. It lived a year or two, but eventually died from a too cold winter.

I would go onto killing another Trachy or two, and one or two other palms that I tried in the ground.

I once wrote Mr. Graf disputing a claim he made in one of his books saying that Spanish Moss occurred along the East Coast up to Cape May, NJ. I told him that I had never seen a strand of it in Cape May County, but if he could tell me where it was, exactly, I would go hunt it down. He wrote back (the days of paper letters) and, very gentlemanly, very professionally said that he hadn't seen it himself, but was going on third party testimony. Further, he said he was going to pull that reference in future editions of the book in question.

He, more than anyone else, propelled me into palm cultivation.


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