Saturday, July 27, 2013

Dreams of spring…

I hate mid-winter in Canberra. Relative to the rest of the Australia, Canberra gets cold. Earlier this week (Thursday), we had the year’s coldest day to date, a –6.25 C morning (21.5F). This morning’s effort – a –4.7 C (23.5F) was not much better, and as I write this, it is already down to 0.2*C (32F). On top of the cold, the days get short and there is not much around growing or green.

This evening, I was flicking through the accumulation of photos on my phone, and came across these, taken of the Sarracenia last November:



These shots are, for me right now, dreams of what I want Spring to look like – Sarracenia flava pitchers reaching skywards. The plants are mostly Sarracenia flava var. atropurpurea "’FRT 1-5” and one of Triffid Park’s S. flava var. rubricorpora clones. The coppertop is S. flava var. cuprea x var. rugellii, and the clone of S. flava var. flava I got at the ICPS in Sydney (which turns out to be another Honeysuckle Road, Harleyville plant).

These were (at the time) my outdoor plants, essentially all those that did not fit into my greenhouse. While everything in the greenhouse would come up around September, these plants did not come up until November. We have a saying here – if you plant tomatoes before the date of the Melbourne Cup, you are making a sacrifice to the frost Gods. After the Melbourne Cup there is negligible risk of frosts (well, maybe a one-in-ten year risk of a late frost, but safe enough to cover most years).

My Sarracenia seem to keep to the same rules – the plants grown outdoors did not come up until after Melbourne Cup 2012 (and the last risk of frosts) had been and gone. This is what the same plants looked like a few weeks later.

These photos, and those in the last link above, were among the last I took of our plants before we moved house, so they have a sort of nostalgia. I am watching and waiting to see how they will do at our new place.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Notes on Australian Nepenthes mirabilis – Dave Rentz’s blog

Mocis frugalis 5677

Dave Rentz is an entomological colleague and I do not exaggerate when I say he is the world expert on the Orthopteroid orders – aka the grasshoppers, crickets, katyids, stick insects, leaf insects and cockroaches. He used to live here in Canberra, but was retrenched by the CSRIO along with a number of other entomologists I know in the early 2000s. He moved to Kuranda, which is located in the middle of the rainforest near Cairns in north Queensland, Australia. He is lucky enough to live alongside cassowaries in the tropical rainforest. He runs a blog – bunyipco – that I love because it takes me away from Canberra’s cold and gloom and delivers me instantly to the tropics, along with its fauna and flora.

Nepenthes mirabilis has had a few mentions on Dave’s blog, and when we caught up at the recent CSIRO moth workshop, I learned that he is assisting postgraduate student Gary Wilson with a Nepenthes project. Gary is looking at the biogeography, taxonomy and ecology of Australian Nepenthes, and seems to be doing a very fine job. You can read about Gary here, and his Nepenthes work here.

Here are some of Dave’s blog entries on Nepenthes mirabilis near Cairns, in north Queensland. He takes excellent macro photos of Nepenthes in action, so they are definitely worth reading:

Monday, July 15, 2013

Gotcha! Plants at the Garden Expo


As promised, here are some photos (albeit crappy iphone ones) of Gotcha! Plants’ setup at the Sunshine Coast Home and Garden Expo in Queensland. John and Sue always put on a magnificent show, with lots of beautiful Nepenthes, VFTs, sundews and Sarracenia. As I have said before, Gotcha! is definitely Australia’s best CP supplier – their plants are always fresh, seed grown and John has definite talent with his breeding program. This contrasts with the other Australian suppliers, which, while they offer a quality product, restrict themselves to the same clones ad infinitum, ad nauseum. Every time I visit John and Sue, they have something new and exciting – they are true masters of the Sarracenia!