Jump to content
MaryLock

How an Attic Discovery Leads to the Origins of the Merwin Garden on Maui

Recommended Posts

MaryLock

In January 2020 The Merwin Conservancy officially took on the stewardship of the house and palm garden of poet W.S. Merwin on Maui.  As we have been cataloging personal items in the house, we discovered boxes of files containing letters about the early days of seed exchanges, conservation work, and friendships revolving around palms.  Some of these letters written more than 30 years ago include correspondence between Inga Hoffman coordinating the IPS seedbank out of the Southern California Palm Society Chapter, Grant Hawley from Aitkenvale North Queensland, and Norm Patterson in Western Australia (he mentions the Western Australia Palm and Cycad Society being only 2 years old).  We are just starting to go through these now, and I hope those in the PalmTalk community might help me put more context around these pen pals.  Grant Hawley's letters include descriptions of his own gardening situation, it would be interesting to find out what happened since those letters.  William had been working on a Pritchardia project and mentions sending a few wild collected seeds to his network.    I've only scratched the surface and I assume there will be many more kindred spirits in the piles of correspondence.  The letters are an interesting snapshot of the world of serious amateur palm collecting - species lists, wish lists, and old certificates like the photo attached.

 

 

 

 

 

37E6019E-3B7E-445E-97F8-AD4CB6433D90_1_201_a.jpeg

  • Like 4
  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Palmarum

Some incredible and important Palm world history right there.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
weldertom

Wow. Keep the stories coming!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
akamu

Very cool find I have watched videos on this garden and interviews with this man. The garden is on my bucket list of things to see next time I am back in Maui keep the pictures coming and if you have any pictures of this particular Palm cyphophoenx nucele It would be great to see what it looks like now . Thank you for sharing aloha

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
MaryLock

Thanks Akamu,

I am making a list of palms to try to match up with the seed certificates, it will be a fun treasure hunt to find these trees in the forest!  Today I went through a thick folder of correspondence from Dr. Sampurno Kadarsan from Botanic Gardens of Indonesia.  I've attached a booklet indexing species in their seed exchange program in 1986-1987, and the list of palm seeds sent in December 1987 and another list from July 1988.  I'm pretty sure where I can find the Sabal mauritiiformis...maybe.

In case you didn't see, I added a virtual event to the calendar, on September 30th in celebration of William Merwin's birthday there will be a crowdcast event that features a virtual peek inside the house and garden with some of my favorite poets reading William's poems.  You can register here. 

Until we can go to the garden in person, you should check it out.  And let me know if you dare the Covid bullet flight to Maui, with a negative test within 72 hours of the flight you will not have to quarantine starting in October - provided we keep our numbers down here.  I would love to show you around the garden. 

I'll do some sleuthing and post photos of palms I think might be from these seed exchanges, but these would only be guesses as they were sadly not labeled with origin.

3ED76634-B703-48C6-8A04-43EB87040363_1_201_a.jpeg

IMG_0444.jpg

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Similar Content

    • sandgroper
      By sandgroper
      I  earned a few browny points with my beautiful daughter this morning, I took her up to the Perth hills so she could play with a koala. She loves koalas, my wife does too, they are quite nice little things. This little bloke is 10 years old, his name is William and he comes when his name is called. My daughter wants to be a volunteer at the wildlife park on weekends, I think it would be difficult keeping her away from William and his mates though!

    • Jonathan Haycock
      By Jonathan Haycock
      Not a palm I've seen advertised for sale much here in South Australia, so when I came across these 5 young Jubaea chilensis on Gumtree I jumped at the opportunity.

      The private seller grew them from seed and claimed they were around 5 years old. In need of a re-pot, but very healthy.

      $100 AUD (£55 GBP/€61 EURO/$73 USD) for the lot!!! 

      I believe some of them are hybrids (JxB F1) as does Nigel Kembrey.
      What do you think?





    • sandgroper
      By sandgroper
      I found these maps online, they show where Australia and New Zealand would lie if they were situated in their current latitude except in the northern hemisphere. I was surprised at how much closer to the equator some of our cities and major towns were in comparison.


    • Fi Melbourne
      By Fi Melbourne
      Hi guys,

      I've just received my 3 sprouted coconuts in the mail. This will be my first time growing coconut and I am a bit excited and nervous at the same time as I've never done this before.

      I grew up in South East Asia and my late grandfather's house was surrounded with beautiful coconut trees. Now that I've moved to Melbourne Australia, I wanted a piece of tropical paradise with me to remind me of my childhood.

      Since it's currently winter now in Melbourne, the coconuts will be grown indoor. Once they get bigger... I will move them in the greenhouse. Hopefully with the right method and equipment, I would be able to grow them in the ground one day. I have about a dozen of banana trees growing in the backyard already and now I just need a few coconut trees to have my own tropical paradise.

      Do you guys have any advice for a newbie like me? Do's and don'ts? I have a heat mat, grow light and humidifier to help these babies grow. Should I leave the heat mat on all night? I put plastic over them to create a humid environment. Any fertilizer at all at this stage?

      Thanks guys and it's great to be a part of this community.

      Regards,
      Fi






    • Grasswing
      By Grasswing
      Hello everybody,
      seven years ago, I published a topic about the Botanical garden of the Charles University.  The interior of the tropical greenhouse is full of rare and very old cycads (around 150 years) along with other plants.
      The botanical garden itself was founded in 1775, the first greenhouse complex dates back to 1882! It was rebuild many times and severely damaged in 1945 during WW2 bombings. The greenhouses were rebuild in 1949 and renovated in 1996.
      Why am I writing this? 
      One of the biggest trees you could find there was huge Sabal sp. - probably bermudana, which completely dominated the tropical part of the greenhouse. It was flowering and seeding periodically. It is hard to guess its age, maybe you could suggest something along with the species, but it was definitely pretty old fella.
        These pictures were taken in July 2013
       
                                                                                                                                            
      Unfortunately, in 2018 I found out that they cut it down completely, leaving only parts of its majestic trunk scattered around. It was a huge shock for me, since it was my favourite palm in the area, and I always admired how big it grew. I can see the reason behind this drastic procedure, it was probably lifting the roof of the greenhouse but still it is a shame, it was a legacy of past Czech and maybe even German botanists.
       
      Remains of the trunk with seedlings
      As I said before it was a seeding exemplar and even though they changed the substrate around the remains of the tree, I could notice small seedling coming up.  My palm hunter instincts turned on and I started thinking how to save atleast few, to keep the offspring of this historical tree alive. I asked the greenhouse curator, if I could dig few up and he helped me out! I was kind of surprised he was so willing to help. (the other option would be a bit less legal haha ).
      Few pictures of the babies, note that I was a bit sceptic about their survival, since they were not in a great state:

      Fortunately my scepticism was wrong, and after two years I have 4 strong Sabal seedlings! They are my favourite plants partly because of the history behind them and I'm looking forward to see them grow.

      Even though I called this thread a ballad, the ending is atleast somewhat happy. The memory of this Sabal with live on, and I am sure I'm not the only Czech palm lover who has few plants. The botanical garden has definitely some too. 
      Thank you for reading this far, if you have any suggestions about the tree age or species, feel free to comment!
      Regards
      Ondrej
×
×
  • Create New...