Borinda fungosa winter damage 2016/2017

This winter was quite brutal. Temperatures did not plunge lower than normal, but it got cold enough for the soil to completely freeze down to 0.5m and even deeper. With no snow cover to protect the delicate Borinda leaves, it stood little chance to survive the winter.

The cause

Top killed Borinda fungosa

Top killed Borinda fungosa

During early winter, there was no visible damage on any of my bamboos, even Borinda fungosa (gaolinensis?) fared much better than I expected. But then came a period when we received no snow, only freezing temperatures that remained below freezing even during the day. Combined with cold north eastern winds, soil cooled off considerably and it froze much deeper than usual. It remained frozen for quite some time, even when temperatures rose above freezing.

The damage

When temperatures got back to normal and after some “warm” rain, leaves lost their green color and it became evident that bamboo ended up completely top killed. Culms were all noticeably bleached, green culms had the darker green, somewhat watery appearance. At that point, I was sorry I didn’t tarp the bamboo and try my best to protect it. It all seems now, that no protection could have save it this winter – the weather was just too much for a marginal bamboo like Borinda to survive intact.

The awakening

There is still some life in it...

There is still some life in it…

In early spring, we’ve had a period of extremely warm weather which had awaken all the bamboos, including the badly damaged Borinda fungosa. I have completely removed the dried out culms and I soon noticed a couple of survival shoots, pushing out from the base of dead culms. Until now, there are no regular shoots that would prove that the bamboo is going to recover. I hope there are healthy rhizomes with undamaged rhizome buds below ground. Usually the first shoots appeared around mid May, hopefully they will push out this year as well.

The conclusion

Some small survival shoots started to emerge

Some small survival shoots started to emerge

Borinda fungosa I’ve been growing from seed for 6 years somehow managed to thrive in this marginal climate. It got damaged during the winter and didn’t like the heat in the summer, but it managed to grow and upsize into a very decent bamboo. This winter was not typical for us. At least not statistically. It’s sad that the same climate pattern started to repeat itself almost every year. Almost no winter precipitation, cool northern wind and sunny weather can dry out even more winter hardy bamboos. As if the winter was not bad enough, we were recently hit by a nasty late spring freeze. My Borinda doesn’t have the best growing conditions in my garden. It may perish in a year or two even if it survived this winter.

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Flowers are identical to those of their parents

Blueberry seedlings update

Two years old seedlings

2 years old blueberry seedling during late winter

2 years old blueberry seedling during late winter

Two years ago, I have started growing blueberries from seeds. I have collected some of the seeds from large healthy fruits on my old blueberry plants. After stratification, seeds germinated very well and I ended up with many tiny slow growing blueberry seedlings. I have waited two years, before planting them into their final location and I have kept them in a rather small container in peat without any additional fertilizer. They could be a lot happier if i’d give them some food earlier, but they managed to grow anyway. When I planted them into mound of peat outside last year, they immediately started growing large shoots (compared to existing growth). In autumn, it became evident, that most of the seedling set up their first flower buds. Some failed to survive the weight of snow during the winter.

Young, nicely colored leaves

Young, nicely colored leaves

Seedlings at the beginning of their third growing season.

Seedlings at the beginning of their third growing season.

Third growing season

In early spring, the buds started swelling and I noticed they will start even more vigorous than last year. All the 1 year old shoots started leafing out early with nice red colored young leaves. All the shoots were extremely healthy and small seedlings soon began to look like nice little bushes. Some of the shoots have already started flowering. Flowers and leaves seem to be identical to their parent plants.

First flowering

In early spring, buds started opening

In early spring, buds started opening

I didn’t expect them to start flowering so early, as they are not taller than 30 cm with shoots just a few mm thick. At first, when flower buds opened, flowers appeared to be small and perhaps even a bit distorted with stigma pointing out of developing petals. Later, flowers developed normally and the seedlings started flowering at the same time as their parents. It will be interesting to see their fruits when they ripen. Plant appearance is roughly identical to their parents so I’d guess the fruits will be the same  as well.

Flowers are identical to those of their parents

Flowers are identical to those of their parents

During third year, seedlings started flowering

During third year, seedlings started flowering

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Shooting season is now officialy open

Moso Shooting 2017

Winter

Winter damage from the northern side

Winter damage from the northern side

After unusually dry winter with almost no snow cover and two months of uninterrupted below freezing temperatures, spring came early. Due to lack of snow cover, soil got frozen down to 50 cm deep. That made me think that Bamboo shooting season will be postponed for quite some time. Fargesia Rufa started late and I believed my Phyllostachys bamboos will also need a bit longer to finally wake up. Moso proved me wrong.

Top layer of leaves got burnt, leaves below remained protected

Top layer of leaves got burnt, leaves below remained protected

Winter did some damage to the Phyllostachys pubescens ‘Moso’ seedling this year. Not as much as I would have expected, though. Despite being frozen solid, most of the canes survived with moderate leaf loss. North facing side survived almost completely undamaged while southern, more exposed side took quite some damage. Older, smaller culms got defoliated completely this year, which was a surprise to me, because I expected the older and completely hardened culms will have much better chances, compared to young and tall culms. Youngest culms from previous spring were not damaged until the worst cold hit us. Low temperatures around -15°C, sunny and windy weather with soil being completely frozen, managed to burn some of the leaves. I can only guess how they would look like if the soil would remain thawed.

First shoots came early

First Moso shoot of the year

First Moso shoot of the year

To my surprise, I have found first Moso shoots on March 25th. That is the earliest Moso shooting date (well actually it’s a tie with season 2014) so far. Until this season, the first to poke out of the soil were always very small shoots that grew on the edges of the grove where I severed the rhizomes. Not this year. The first shoot I saw is already larger than shoots from last year. I accidentally exposed it when I decided to water the bamboo. When I looked a bit closer, I noticed more a bit smaller shoots on the western side of bamboo clump.

Three weeks of warm and sunny weather warmed up the soil and grass started actively growing. It didn’t take long for the first fruit trees to wake up as well. On the very same day when I noticed Moso shoots, apricots opened their flowers. Everything  re-started in fast forward mode this year.

I have not noticed the second shoot until I checked the snapped photo.

I have not noticed the second shoot until I checked the snapped photo.

One of largest shoots so far trying to reach for some light

One of largest shoots so far trying to reach for some light

Upsize

At first it didn’t look like there will be any upsize. Shoots were not as large and seemed more juvenile compared to the larger shoots last season. Eventually, they started getting thicker and started showing Moso specific features. It seems that last year, shoots started from deeper down in the soil, because I have added some soil and mulch around the bamboo during the previous year.
As the shoots started growing, it became evident, that there was some upsize, compared to last season. Like last year, there were many small(er) shoots that arrived earlier. I have left all the shoots intact, like in previous years. Smaller shoots can always be pruned off later on during the season, if the grove becomes congested.

Shoots have increased quite a bit this year

Shoots have increased quite a bit this year

To compare the size of the shoots, I use 1 Euro coin

To compare the size of the shoots, I use 1 Euro coin

Spring freeze

The upsize in  some parts of the clump was impressive

The upsize in some parts of the clump was impressive

In late April, temperature plunged down to -5°C a couple of nights. Late freeze did a lot of damage to most of the fruit trees and completely defoliated walnut trees. We’ve had late freeze like this for two year in a row now – this year it got even worse than last year. The freeze, however, did no damage to the bamboo shoots. They were quite tall already at the time and for a while, I got really worried.
After the cold weather, we’ve had some warm rainy days again. Abundance of rain and mild weather (temperatures around 10°C) made the shoots grow much faster again. At that point it became evident that the number of shoots increased this year. Large shoots emerged throughout the whole grove, not just on the eastern side like in previous season. Majority of the large shoots, though, is still facing East.

Large shoot with young anchor roots

Large shoot with young anchor roots

I will update this post regularly until the shoots completely leaf out.

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Drosera sp. Pretty Rosette from seeds

Drosera dielsiana

Drosera sp. Pretty Rosette seeds

Drosera sp. Pretty Rosette seeds

I have been growing Drosera capensis sundews for quite some time and decided to add a few more to my list. The first one is Drosera sp. Pretty Rosette. According to carnivorous plants communities around the internet, Pretty Rosette is supposed to be an unique form of Drosera dielsiana. Like many sundews, it originates from South Africa. It’s rosette forming Drosera and it grows up to 4 cm in diameter. It’s one of the sundews that are fairly easy to handle.

Germination

Seeds are very small, just as all Drosera seeds. First sprouts appeared in 14 days, which was a bit faster than other Drosera seeds I’ve grown, except for the fresh D. capensis seeds I have collected myself. It is almost impossible to distribute the seeds evenly over the surface, so the majority of seeds started growing on a small patch of peat. In time, I’ll transplant the plantlets and give them more space to grow, Drosera  Pretty Rosette is supposed to be small, which means I have some time before they grow that much.

Early growth

In the beginning, the seedlings were growing quite fast. It took less than a week for them to start growing their first true leaves with their sticky traps. The first leaf actually managed to catch a small springtail as soon as the tentacles got dewy.

Seedlings 5 days after germination

Seedlings 5 days after germination

6 days old seedlings opening first traps

6 days old seedlings opening first traps

7 days old seedlings

One of 7 days old seedlings already caught a springtail

3 weeks old seedlings

3 weeks old seedlings

Seedlings responded well to strong grow light and showed red tentacle coloration from the very beginning. The ones that managed to catch a springtail speeded up growth and remained green, seedlings that were not so lucky, turned red and developed much slower. So far it seems that Drosera Pretty Rosette seedlings are even more effective when it comes to capturing small springtails. At one point, almost all the seedlings have caught something, some of them used two or more traps at the same time.

Carnage in the dense forest of sundews

Carnage in the dense forest of sundews

It will be fun to see how fast I can get them to adult size. They don’t cross pollinate with any of my current sundews, so I’ll have to wait for my other seeds to finally germinate. I want to successfully cross pollinate Drosera capensis with a rosette forming sundew, Drosera spatulata. First seeds have just started sprouting so perhaps by mid summer I will be able to get at least some of them to flower. As soon as the traps get large enough, I’ll start feeding them fish food. I think they should all be ready to find their own food by the end of spring. Insects, beware!

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