Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The first signs of spring, 2011

Finally, a chance to write my blog again! July has disappeared with work commitments, so I'm grateful to finally settle back into a more gentle rhythmn. Its deepest wintere here, and here is the view from our backyard to the Brindabella Ranges, 30 kilometers to the southwest. It stayed on the ground for a good week after I took this photo, with the last of it melting on 20 July. There is still snow on Mount Bimberi, the highest peak in the Australian Capital Territory, as I write this.

The Brindabella Ranges with freshly fallen snow. Left to right are Mount Gingera, Mt. Ginini and Mt. Franklin. The Drosera peltata site I visit is in the hills below Mount Ginini at Smoker's Gap (not visible).

I've also been busy with the collection when time allows. The biggest job has been accessing in around 20 large Sarracenia flava sent from my friend David Martin on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland. Sadly, David had to close up his nursery (Fly Free Zone) to move north, which meant giving up his magnificent Sarracenia collection. I was honoured when David sent me the largest of his S. flava plants. Here they are in the greenhouse:

My friend David Martin grew these huge Sarracenia flava from seeds during the 1980s. They have not seen anything but a very light frost since he moved them to Queensland in the mid 1990s. Here they are after a -3*C morning!

David's plants were grown from seeds he brought off Fred Howell during the early 1980s and subsequent selfings of the best plants. Some of these 30+ year old rhizomes are truly gigantic. Here is a Sarracenia flava var. atropurpurea (FRT 1-5) with 30-40 mm diameter rhizomes. The uneven colouration of the growing points shows this plant has been spoiled with Queensland's warm winters and is adapting to the harsh winters here in Canberra. The new growth this plant will produce won't be affected by the cold.

The first flower buds of 2011 are also beginning to appear. Below is the first flower bud to have made its appearance, on S. flava var. flava "Triffid Park":

A few other Sarracenia have also started to produce flower buds, with my all red S. alata clone even beginning to produce a few pitchers! Now that Spring is beginning to show, I'll start posting weekly updates with photos showing how things are getting on.

I am also thrilled that a Brocchinia reducta I brought from Captive Exotics has survived the winter intact. It has had no heating whatsoever, with the greenhouse temperatures dropping down to at least -4*C (the lowest max-min thermometer reading I have so far seen). Not sure if it has had frost form on it though, as the new water trays I put in have probably added enough thermal mass to slow frost formation.

Well, that's it for now. Stay tuned for more updates as the plants begin to wake up from their winter rest!

PS added on 28th - it got to -6*C here on the night I wrote the above, but the greenhouse only got to -4*C. Typically, after writing that the Brocchinia was doing well, it got burned for the first time in that frost.