Arundo donax – Versicolor

Arundo donax is tall perennial cane that grows up to 6 m tall, but can grow even taller in optimal conditions with enough moisture and as much sun as possible. It grows in all kinds of soil types, can tolerate dry and wet soil, withstands polluted waste water contaminated soil and soil salinity.

Variagated aArundo donax variegata shoot

Variagated Arundo shoot

Arundo donax “Versicolor” is a bit smaller, less aggressive version with striped leaves. It’s a bit less cold hardy and lacks original Arundo’s vigor, but in temperate climate, cold hardiness doesn’t really count as long as underground rhizomes survive the winter. In warm climates without freezing temperatures, canes remain green and stop growing at low temperatures. When spring arrives with warmer weather, canes start growing again, pushing out branches from original stem. In colder climate, everything above ground turns brown, but the canes usually survive and can also branch out in the spring. Usually all the canes are removed during the late winter or early spring, because fresh growth looks much more attractive.

Trinidad Moruga Scorpion Chili

Trinidad Moruga Scorpion chili

Trinidad moruga chili

Trinidad moruga scorpion (Capsicum chinense) is one of the hottest chili peppers in the world. I’m not sure if I want to taste it, but it’s nice to have such a powerful plant around.
It originates from Trinidad and Tobago. In warm places without freezing temperatures during the winter, it can grow as perennial, but even the lightest frost can completely kill it, so it’s usually acting as an annual plant in temperate climate. Perhaps I’ll try to place it into large pot during autumn and winter and try to keep it alive during the cold part of the year.

 
 
Chili was growing slow at first, but got quite vigorous when sun got a bit higher in the late spring. It liked baking in full sun at high temperature, but it also needed a lot of water. I’ve made a mistake and kept it inside the same pot for too long, which resulted in strong and a bit congested root system. When I planted it outside, it took quite some time to actually start growing again – I’m not sure if it was low temperature and excessive rainfall or the fact that it got root bound while still inside it’s pot.
When it started growing again, it soon set up a couple of blossoms, which were pollinated and first fruits started to develop. Trinidad moruga chili has very small flowers, compared to other chilies I’ve tried growing, but in the end, chilies were not small at all. They seem to flower in waves, just as first fruits are starting to turn red, the next wave of small flowers started to emerge. Sadly this summer is one of the coldest and it’s constantly wet, which means that chili didn’t have the best growing conditions, but it seems the second batch of flowers should ripe before cold weather kicks in.

Eucalyptus

Emerging Eucalyptus gunii seedling

Emerging Eucalyptus gunii seedling












One week old Eucalyptus gunii seedling

One week old Eucalyptus gunii seedling

I decided to try growing Eucalyptus gunii and Eucalyptus globulus. The first is supposed to be hardy enough to survive our winters and will eventually go out. Eucalyptus globulus gets damaged when exposed to even moderate frost which makes it indoor plant.

More to come as this little project evolves..

Bamboo shoots

Each spring or early summer, bamboos start shooting. It’s favourite time of the year for most of Bamboo growers, that anticipate the new season with curiosity.

Many bamboo varieties  look similar if not almost identical when they are mature, but most of them, if not all, have unique shoots. To successfully identify a bamboo, we usually depend on unique characteristics – mature shoot appearance offers just that.

I’m growing several different bamboos and I decided to take shoot photos and try to capture their uniqueness.

Borinda fungosa shoot

Newly emerged Borinda fungosa shoot

Borinda fungosa is the first bamboo I owned. I had grown it from seed in 2011.

Shoots are a bit different from other bamboos, because of extremely large culm sheaths of Borinda genus. As they emerge, they seem completely hollow. After a while, they start to look more like other bamboos, when stem starts elongating and fills the empty space inside the shoot.

Borinda is a late shooter, it usually shoots around mid May. It usually (always so far) sets another round of shoots around September which get killed during the winter.

Shiroshima shoot

Hibanobambusa tranquillans ‘Shiroshima’

Hibanobambusa tranquillans ‘Shiroshima’ is thought to be a natural hybrid between Phyllostachys nigra ‘Henonis’ and Sasa veitchii. It’s variegation and large leaves make it look spectacular.

Shoots often appear completely pink or white and then, after they get exposed to light, turn into light green, with cream white stripes and pink tanned sheath blades.

Young shoot just starting to take off!

Fargesia Murieale shoot

Fargesia Murieale is clumping bamboo that shoots early. Usually first shoots emerge in early to mid March.

Dense hair on the shoot offer good protection from pest that wakes up early in the spring, like slugs for example.

 

 

 

Houttuynia cordata ‘Chameleon’

Flowering Chameleon plant

Flowering Chameleon plant

Striking colors of Houttuynia cordata ‘Chameleon’

Striking colors of Houttuynia cordata ‘Chameleon’

Houttuynia cordata should come with a warning, according to many gardeners that allowed it to grow freely around the garden. It produces underground rhizomes that “travel” into all directions, creating dense groundcover. In time it can loose it’s colorful variegation and turn back into less attractive mostly green variety.

Very aggressive photo. Literally!

Very aggressive photo. Literally!

The plant just loves water. It thrives in moist or even wet soil, with roots occasionally submerged in water. It’s a bit slower in dry conditions, but it tolerates drought as well. Its colors look best in full sun, but it doesn’t mind growing in complete shade as well.

The plant have very strong smell that resembles smell of fish. Plants are edible and were used as herbs in Chinese medicine.

Bambusa ventricosa

Not so cold hardy addition – Buddha’s Belly

Branches are showing some swelling and zig-zag growth.

Branches are showing some swelling and zigzag growth.

Basic information:
Height: up to 15 m
Culm diameter: 5 cm
Hardiness: -6 °C
Characteristics: cold sensitive, vigorous, clumping bamboo,
forms swollen internodes when kept in containers or in dry
conditions

Phyllostachys aureosulcata ‘Spectabilis’

Basic information:
Height: 10 m
Culm diameter: 5 cm
Hardiness: -24 °C
Characteristics: very cold hardy, vigorous, running bamboo,
culms are bright yellow with green sulcus
young culms turn red when exposed to sun
they frequently genuflect, making zig-zag pattern at the base of the culm
some of the leaves have white stripe

It’s one of most cold-hardy bamboos that grows to decent size and can be extremely vigorous, especially in warmer climates.

Genuflection on Phyllostachys aureosulcata 'Spectabilis'

Genuflection on Phyllostachys aureosulcata ‘Spectabilis’

Sun exposed culms become red.

Sun exposed culms become red.

On lower internodes genuflection is not rare

On lower internodes genuflection is not rare

Genuflection

Genuflection


3 years old bamboo

3 years old bamboo

Phyllostachys aurea

Phyllostachys aurea

Phyllostachys aurea

Basic information:
Height: 4 to 8 m
Culm diameter: 3 cm
Hardiness: -18 °C
Characteristics: cold hardy, vigorous, running bamboo,
they frequently have compressed internodes at the base
Compressed internodes are typical for Phyllostachys aurea

Compressed internodes are typical for Phyllostachys aurea

Spring 2014

With warm weather, dormancy ended and new growth cycle started.

arundo-donax-variegataI stored weak Arundo donax Variegata divisions from last year in heated place without enough light. They survived, but not without casualties. Plants ended up even weaker and hopefully they will recover when I finally plant them outside. I learned my lesson to never store Arundo donax inside during the winter again. Most of the unvariegated clones I got by layering ended badly. Only two plants remain alive above ground, many died below the soil level as well. Heat, low light level and wet soil with minimal oxygen capacity did their worst. I left one clone outside and it froze and thawed continuously until spring, now it’s also waking up. It may end up the best.
One variegated shoot already decided it’s about time to break free.

Buds swelled early when temperatures were still low. It looks like they can take several late freezes if not too big.

Buds swelled early when temperatures were still low. It looks like they can take several late freezes if not too big.


Borinda fungosa seedling that got fried when temperatures dropped to around -10°C is regenerating. First branch buds are pale green, some of them almost white. Pale leaves that are starting to form have that distinctive pinkish tan like many other variegated bamboos. It doesn’t seem to be variegated though, no true leaves are fully formed yet.
Branches on last year's autumn shoot.

Branches on last year’s autumn shoot.

With some of the branches gone, new set is emerging.

With some of the branches gone, new set is emerging.

 
 

Culm color as seen using camera's flash light.

Culm color as seen using camera’s flash light.

With warm sunny weather, culms that were mature enough – all except the last autumn shoots, became dark brown. The more sun the culm receives, darker it becomes. It seems that after a while with some more sun exposure, dark brown color becomes almost red. Autumn shoots remained green despite growing in identical conditions. Without leaves there’s a lot of light and it will be interesting to see if culm color can get even more intense.

 

After prolonged sun exposure, even the newest shoots began to turn color from green to shiny dark brown. Culms get their specific color and they have a glossy look, just as they were polished. Young culms with wax coating take longer to change color. Culms with old, partly degraded remains of culm sheaths, can be totally brown, but beneath the straw colored sheath remnants, culms are green. During the spring, there are almost no leaves on fungosa, which means there’s a lot of light.

Fascinating colors on almost completely defoliated bamboo

Fascinating colors on almost completely defoliated bamboo

Amazing branching of Borinda fungosa

Amazing branching of Borinda fungosa

Hibanobambusa tranquillans Shirosima's elongated buds.

Hibanobambusa tranquillans Shirosima’s elongated buds.

Other bamboos also started to grow and will most likely start shooting as well. Hibanobambusa tranquillans ‘Shiroshima’ is already growing new branches and will soon replace leaves that got mildly fried by winter cold.

One of the last plants that started growing was cold hardy Hibiscus Hibiscus moscheutos. It was started from seed year ago and I can only speculate if it’s label was actually correct. Color of it’s flowers also remains a mystery.

Cold

Cold weather ends the growing season sooner or later, this year it was rather soon. With no snow insulation, cold can induce more damage that with thick layer of snow insulation. This year, despite all the cold, we are yet to see the first snow.

Hard frosts had made Borinda fungosa suffer.

Hard frosts had made Borinda fungosa suffer.

Borinda fungosa seedling was holding on very well down to -5°C. Soon night temperature dropped down to -7°C and many of the leaves got damaged. Leaves that remained undamaged, surprisingly remained unfolded even during sunny and windy weather. It did loose all the shoots from this autumn, as it did last winter, but this time, some of them remained tall, only loosing their fragile top. Perhaps in the spring, they will begin the branching process. Cold weather persisted for around two weeks, daily highs were slightly above or below freezing, it was sunny and windy most of the time. Morning low temperatures were between -5°C and -8°C. This is it’s second winter outside, I’ll see how it resists cold. Last year when it was covered in thick layer of snow most of the winter, it managed to keep most of the leaves intact.fungosa winter damage
fungosa damaged by cold Well, the problem with all that snow insulation was weight. Heavy wet snow broke all the taller culms and only a couple of old tiny ones remained. Dead shoots that grew in late fall were not all dead, one of them managed to grow branches around the lowest node, that was buried under thick layer of mulch.
After almost a month of very cold weather, with fog persisting through most of the day, with day temperature slightly below freezing, leafs managed to unfold, showing the damage. It looks like most, if not all, leaves were completely killed or badly damaged. Culms and branches are showing their dark brown color and they seem to be alive even after prolonged period of cold weather. Hopefully in 4 months we’ll get some warm weather for it to recover.

 

Shiroshima with it's beautiful  varieagated leaves remains almost intact.

Shiroshima with it’s beautiful varieagated leaves remains almost intact.

Hibanobambusa tranquilans ‘Shiroshima’ is looking hardy enough to survive this kind of cold dry weather without hassle. There’s no evident damage, not even on several late fall whip shoots. Whips stopped growing with arrival of cold weather, lower nodes actually hardened enough to drop off culm sheathes, while their tops remained fresh and stopped growing completely. I guess we’ll have to wait and see if they resume in the spring. With temperatures close to freezing, white variegation on the leaves turned into bright yellow color, making bamboo look even better.

 
 

Moso seedling that remained inside the pot is showing quite some damage.

Moso seedling that remained inside the pot is showing quite some damage.


Phyllostachys pubescens ‘Moso’ seedling that escaped it’s pot is showing moderate leaf damage. It’s evident, that there’s almost no damage on the escaped part of bamboo that ran out of the pot two seasons ago. Leaves that were pale during the summer and showed some kind of stress, wilted after first heavy frost. Dark green leaves mostly remained undamaged, but they do tend to wilt when exposed
Moso seedling shows some damage, but it looks quite good.

Moso seedling shows some damage, but it looks quite good.

to sun. Wilting is normal, because soil already got frozen on top and bamboo have to save water inside it’s leaves.
The part that escaped managed to put out numerous runners and a couple of shoots that barely poked out through the mulch. They are most likely whip shoots that missed their growing season. So far they haven’t got soft and are most likely alive, waiting to resume in the spring. Last year, pot ended up as home of mice family that stayed there throughout the winter. They didn’t do much damage, but there were holes all around the pot and I’m sure there was some root damage. Well, better mice than voles! They can devastate whole bamboo clumps.
 
 
Umbrella palm seedlings, planted around the garden and inside the pond didn’t take the cold well. First hard frost killed everything above the soil/water level, and most likely, rhizomes as well. We’ll see if it restarts in the spring, if not, I still have one large seedling kept safely inside.
At first dark green damaged leaves turned into straw color. They’ve kept their appearance as they would still be alive. Dry clumps of umbrella papyrus are looking quite good. I’m going to keep them for a while, if rain or snow doesn’t make them look ugly that is.
Cyperus alternifolius that remained inside the pond got frozen. It's not ugly just yet, though.

Cyperus alternifolius that remained inside the pond got frozen. It’s not ugly just yet, though.

It changed color from dark green to straw yellow. I'm keeping those bushes, because they look quite fascinating.

It changed color from dark green to straw yellow. I’m keeping those bushes, because they look quite fascinating.