The SABAL PALM
A massive reconstruction will take place on the Tropical Palm house of RBGE and because of that it will be closed for the next 7 years. It is already decanted as part of RBGE’s Biomes Project. By September there was only one plant left in this old glass house - The Sabal Palm.
The Sabal bermudana is the longest-lived plant in the Living Collection of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. It's precise age is unknown but it is more than 200! It has been part of the garden’s collection since 1822 and living in the glass house since 1874. The Sabal bermudana is a red-listed endangered species, endemic to Bermuda, and this extraordinary Edinburgh Sabal is likely to be amongst the oldest palms of its kind on the planet.
This is why I had a quick visit to Edinburgh - to illustrate the Sabal Palm before it is dismantled. Sadly due to its age and size, the Sabal Palm can not survive a move. In September 2021, we attended this special tree’s funeral.
Before this giant tree was dismantled, Jacqui Pestell and I likely had some decent amount of time in the glass houses to prepare some sketches and develop some ideas on how to illustrate such a giant creature. Although we had a good experience working on life size Titan Arum triptych together, none of us worked on such a big subject like this palm three, well, a giant subject more precisely. Illustrating this tree is a little scary as well as exciting.
In this short visit to the RBGE, we only completed some quick sketches and gathered ideas, hoping those will lead to future big big illustrations. Stay tuned for this ongoing project!
They’re sort of quite, sentient… presences. You know, you feel the energy of this big old thing. It is like being in a room with an elephant, or in a boat when a whale comes up.
Simon Allen, Glasshouse Horticulturalist
We’ve got a lot of long-lived staff here. They’ve spent the best part of their career here nurturing and growing these plants… the plants are their babies.
Fiona Inches, Glasshouse Supervisor
It is probably a bit of a gulp moment, a wake-up call… we’re going to lose plants. It doesn’t rest easy, but we hope that we’re going to leave it in a better place, and as custodians that’s what we should always try and aim to do.
David Knott, Head of Living Collections
August 25, 2021
May 18, 2021
An incomplete field trip
January 22, 2021
A GIANT FERN - Thyrsopteris elegans
January 06, 2021
October 26, 2020
Artist in Residence – Transylvania
August 20, 2020
An Iris field trip
June 24, 2020
Little Blue Book - Omphalodes cappodocica
May 12, 2020
March 29, 2020
Summary of Mexico
November 16, 2019
The book is out!
September 23, 2019
Turkish Silk Road
July 27, 2019
Once again - Transylvania Meadows!
June 14, 2019
April 21, 2019
A Plant Trip to the East of Anatolia
June 27, 2018
Titan arum triptych
May 21, 2018
Artist Residency in Denver Botanic Gardens
November 13, 2017
My Most Challenging Paintings
October 17, 2017