I can’t believe that six months can pass by so fast, but that’s how long its (nearly) been since the last time I posted anything! An update is well overdue, so here goes…
The Sarracenia did a lot better than I had expected this season, especially given they started off with pitchers deformed or rhizomes toppled by the wind. An unexpected help was the tomatoes that self-sowed themselves along the back of our paved area. Just after Christmas, we made up a temporary trellis that doubled as a much welcomed windbreak. I really enjoyed this as well because I could pick golf ball sized tomatoes to munch on as I enjoyed my plants. Store brought tomatoes never taste good after you grow your own. A disadvantage is that the bushes tended to invade the gardens. I am sure I will have to weed out tomato seedlings from between the Sarracenia come spring…
Its always nice to meet new CP people, especially when you are not expecting to. Back in May we went to the Collector pumpkin festival just north of here, and I did a double take as I saw someone walk past with a Sarracenia! It turned out that Owen, a longtime CP grower with whom I had shared emails but had never met, was selling Sarracenia, flytraps and sundews. He had some great plants available and we promised that we would catch up this spring – its been on the cards since 2012. I ended up going home with a nice leuco and was busted doing so by a work friend who took great delight in asking “haven’t you got enough already”!?! (Correct answer – you can never have enough!).
By the time I had met Owen, the shorter days were incredibly obvious and the plants were all dormant – except for Drosera binata. For some reason, that species will keep throwing leaves until they get burned off by the first serious frosts. We’ve had a relatively cold winter this year – the clear nights associated with el nino tend to do that, although the warmer days compensate when you look at the averages. Within a few weeks of the cold starting, I recorded –8*C at the gardens themselves. When this happens, the Sphagnum freezes solid and ice starts to accumulate on the pitchers.
The Tarnok leucos had ice running down the side of their pitchers! The pitchers were still looking ok for a week or so after this –8*C freeze, but have now browned off.
And a couple of more icy plant pics to make you feel icy cold! Note that the Sphagnum is brick hard – you can draw blood if you tap a Spphagnum tussock too hard with your knuckle when it is this cold!
And to close, here are the gardens as of this winter solstice, about 5 PM today. Note how the Sphagnum really took off later this season. I’m trying the Phil Reytter approach this season – don’t remove dead foliage until growth resumes. I’m not so worried about the cold because when it gets more than a one or two degrees below freezing everything freezes solid in the gardens anyway. But I do want to protect the flowers and new traps from the pitcher distorting winds we can get here in September and October. I generally keep the phyllodes of S. flava intact, but otherwise remove the dried pitchers at the end of Autumn. Phil and others swear by this method, so its probably worth a try. I’ll let you know if I swear by it or swear at it this spring!
I’ll hopefully have a few more posts shortly as I am due to set up a couple of small bog gardens from some spare teracotta tubs I have. You can do this with some sillicone, an old plastic pot and a membrane pond sealer. I’ll post a how-to as I go along.
Until next time, happy growing and stay warm!