Friday, February 10, 2017

How to Pot Pitcher Plants - Bathtub Edition

What's a man to do after he's succumbed to online plant buying temptation and ended up with 42 bare root Sarracenias?

Pot them in the bathtub of course!

This post will lack a little in the pictures department, as I clearly wasn't thinking of taking photos when I did all this.

It all started when Sarracenia Northwest sent me an email regarding a early spring bargain sale on bare root Sarracenia.

Being a bargain and all, and knowing that I would give a bunch away to Alan of The Mardi Gras Gardener, my coworker Anita, my Portland blogger pals, and my dearest mother in Florida of course I bought 30.

Buying in bulk is always better anyway right?

Of course, I had to order all this during Snowpocalypse 2017. Sarracenia Northwest was kind enough to let me know there would be a delay in shipping, due to said Snowpocalypse, which was totally fine with me.

There was clearly no way I would be potting these guys out in a foot of snow.

I had no idea what I was buying really. I have never divided pitcher plants or seen them unpotted. I had zero concept of how big or small the roots would be?!?

One Monday at work, the box arrived in the mail. I was eager to open it and see what was inside.

The plastic back contained a "wad" of unlabeled roots, so I have no idea what any of them will turn into. There seemed to be quite a variety, however, so I'm sure there will be some cuties. 

Frozen chicken?
I texted this picture to Alan. His reaction was "WTF is that?"

I had told him previously that I needed to raid his plastic pot stash as I didn't have 30 pots laying around and I was too cheap to buy new ones.

Thinking ahead, I had already bought three little bags of perlite and there was a bag of peat moss in the shed outside, that just needed to thaw out a little. But I still had to mix the "soil" and that can be messy.

I placed the babies in a pyrex baking dish with a little water to keep them wet until the weekend when I would have time to pot them up.

Of course the weekend I wanted to pot them, it was raining cats and dogs, so the only reasonable thing I could think of was to mix the soil in the house in a big tote (aka "Big Purp") and pot them carefully in the bathtub. Other gardeners do this too I'm sure.

Mixed "soil" in my purple bucket and got to potting!

The roots varied in size but most fit easily in a 4" pot. There were some very small varieties that ended up in the 6-packs.

Since the plants had been outside all winter in Eagle Creek, once potted, the plants went back outside sheltered near the house.

I will need to figure out water trays for them soon. It's rained everyday since they have been outside, so I haven't worried too much about watering them.

They will take a few years to mature, but how exciting! 


Monday, January 23, 2017

Snowmageddon 2017 (Winners and Losers)

2016 went out like a lion and then that lion hung around for the first few weeks of January 2017, licking it's paws, batting my shrubs around like toys and basically pissing off everyone.

December to January, we had four separate storms that first dumped ice and then about a foot of snow everywhere. One night it took me three hours to get home from work and that was a short commute for some.

All this snow and ice was beautiful for a hot minute and then it got old, REAL old! Note to self: buy a snow shovel.

View across the front - Caesalpinia gilliesii (Bird of Paradise Bush) in the front.
Poor car!
The back corner and English Walnut.

Poor Eucryphia x 'Nymansay' completely bent to the ground.
Across the side tundra! Magnolia x Jane in the front, black walnut in the back.

I know it's still too early to make the call on whether or not certain plants survived Portland's recent Snowmageddon 2016-2017.

This past Sunday (1/22/17) was finally sunny and dry and the sun even came out for a few hours. It was heaven.

The urge for me to get out in the garden was immense. Portland is still to have nighttime weather this week just below freezing, so although I worked for a couple hours cleaning up, I didn't want to get too crazy.

Based on a quick visual survey this past Sunday, there seem to be some winners and some losers.

The east winds whipped most of the leaves off Osmanthus fragrans tips or burned them.

Bulbine frutescens 'Tiny Tangerine' looking like creamed spinach.
Pittosporum tobira 'Shima' survived previous bad winters - will it again?
Daphne bholua (Garland Daphne) took another hit, but no ruptured stems this time.

Minor damage to Choisya ternata 'Sundance'
Callistemon 'Cane's Hybrid''s stems are shattered and mushy.
Nerium oleander 'Hardy Pink' bent to the ground.

Is Coprosma x kirkii 'Variegata' a goner?

Pachystegia insignis (Marlborough Rock Daisy) probably dead?
It was hard seeing my babies buried under the snow. I could only imaging the damage to some of the shrubs and trees when they were smashed with the weight of all the snow.

Many of the Daphne, Grevillea and Osmanthus took it hard, or so it looked. Many of them popped back up when the snow melted, although they have new "holes" or clearly need to be staked back to a more upright position.

Smashed Daphne odora
Daphne odora 'Doughnut' springing back.

Cupressus sempervirens 'Swane's Golden' peeling like a banana.
Cupressus sempervirens 'Swane's Golden' mostly back in proper form.

I have to say I feel like the garden did really good overall.

A lot of the damage seems minor and there was very little limb breakage. I always fear the big walnut trees will lose a limb and take out a parked car or the fence. 

Some of the less hardy for our climate shrubs seem to be winners, but perhaps I had no reason to worry? Many of the Australian or New Zealand shrubs I have coveted the past few years, like Grevillea miqueliana 'Sunset', are actually hardy to 5 to 10 degrees. I don't think it got quite that cold.

There were many times I got in my car in the morning and saw that the temperature was 19 degrees at 7:30am.

Since we had so many days below freezing, I just figured the cumulative effect of weeks of freezing temps would finally get to the marginally hardy plants.

When the temps finally get warm (70's), perhaps some of the plants that looked okay now will show their real damage. I'll reassess in a few weeks too. 

Agave parryi var. parryi (Parry's Agave) and pups unmarked and not mushy!
Chamaerops humilis var. cerifera (Blue Mediterranean Fan Palm)
Telopea x 'Braidwood Seedlings' (Australian Waratah) looking good!
Grevillea junipera 'Xera Ember'
Baby Nerium oleander 'White' and Yucca friends looking good.
Trachycarpus fortunei (Windmill Palm) not even a bad leaf?!?
Drimys lanceolata (Mountain Pepper) - a little tippy...
Embothrium coccineum (Chilean Flame Tree) only lost a few leaves.
Grevillea x 'Neil Bell' and Grevillea miqueliana 'Sunset' all did well but need staked back up.
Olearia lineata 'Dartonii' looks a little shabby but not too bad.
The bogs all look good - have to wait to see if the Venus Fly Traps made it too.

Still in question:

I'm still awaiting the verdict on the fish.

In past winters, they have survived 10 degrees for three days, so I'm hoping for minimal losses.

I'm confident that the fish in the 300, 180 and 150 gallons have all survived along with their waterlily, the 70 gallon may be another result. Thankfully they are on the thaw. The ice on top was easily 8 inches thick.

Seems unlikely the fish in this one made it through :(
Bogs, ponds and Pinus monophylla (Single-leaf Pinyon Pine)
Those are big ice cubes!
Frozen Limnobium laevigatum (Frogbit)

Nymphaea 'Hazorea Dagan White' emerging from the ice.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

2016 Wrap Up

So here we are at the end of 2016. I hate for it to end. I have such a feeling of impending doom for 2017. Although I would argue that 2016 also had some pretty sucky moments.

I have a hunch that for the next four years my garden will be even more important to me, something sacred and true.

The garden always heals my soul, lifts my mood, gives me purpose, and brings me back to the Earth. The garden generally provides few disappointments too.

Frozen fish and bogs.
In the coming year, my head may be in the Begonias, making sure I get that last walnut tree sprouting in the flower bed, but I will be sure to stay ever vigilant outside my garden too, to protect those I love and the rights we have fought for over the past eight years.

I don't mean for this blog to ever be political. It's purpose was always only to be an expression of my nerdy plant love. But it feels like there is more to lose in 2017, than to gain. Sorry folks, in this case, I'm not an optimist.

While there is much to lose, there are many things to look forward to in 2017. Another year of gardening, more plant buying, garden renovations, spending time with my assistant Yvette patrolling the yard for errant squirrels, etc. I can hardly wait to see how the Sarracenias and the bogs overwinter.

Spring cannot get here fast enough!

I also appreciate that a love for gardening crosses all lines and brings us all together with a shared interest. It's amazing how a love for Venus Fly Traps or Peonies or Grevillea, spans the globe and has introduced me to people all over the world that I now call my "friends". I hope to have many more friends in 2017.

I'm not sure what the next four years holds, here's to hoping things don't go down the shitter.

We can always make compost if they do - and compost is good for gardens...

Happy Holidays!

Matthew + Yvette


Thursday, November 3, 2016

Turkey Tail Surprise!

In the past, my two big trees (English Walnut and Black Walnut) have needed some professional help. I've talked about them getting trimmed in the past, so I will spare the details in this post.

But, once after the English Walnut was trimmed, I left a couple big and heavy chunks of limb in the flower bed. A part of me thought they would look interesting in the flower bed, and another part was just too lazy to lug the big chunks of limb away. Split, they would have made good firewood, but that never happened.
English Walnut
One of these chunks of wood recently gave me a nice surprise. After trimming back some perennials in the flower bed where the log was left, I noticed that it was covered on the top and two side with beautiful mushrooms.

Trametes versicolor

I had no idea what they were, but after posting some pictures on Facebook, I was told they were Trametes versicolor (Turkey Tail), a common polypore mushroom. 

It was interesting to learn that this mushroom has long been known to boost longevity and health with its immune boosting and cancer fighting properties.

They are not an "eating" mushroom, but medicinal tea, tinctures, and such can be made from them after drying.

I doubt that I will use them, but knowing information about them is fascinating.  

Half a walnut shell stuck in the mushrooms.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

State of the Garden - Fall 2016

Don't get me wrong, it was a fine Oregon summer, nothing too out of the ordinary, perhaps a little too hot too soon in the spring, but the rest of summer went along with few incidents.

But I think I gave up just a little late this summer.

I did my usual watering and fussing about throughout summer.

As usual, I spurred the local economy with my plant buying, especially with a new late season bog/carnivorous plant addiction.

So, I find myself again easing into fall and thinking ahead.

Cercis canadensis 'Merlot' fall color.
Assistant Yvette taking in some fall rays.
This summer I said "f@$k it" a few more times than usual and instead of obsessively deadheading, spot watering, and/or tree trimming, I opted for a cocktail and a seat on the patio instead. I earned it right?

I was a little more "sloppy" at my gardening game this year. It's not that I didn't care about those things, they just perhaps didn't need to be done so often as I used to do them.

For the first time ever, I'm contemplating hiring a "helper" for leaf clean up. My knees and back aren't what they used to be. I can no longer kneel and pick leaves out of flower beds for eight hours at a time. At least without being crippled the next several days.

I've told myself "no more peonies!!!". There are even a few species that are going to go, because they just aren't spectacular enough. Fortunately, one of the really big Paeonia delavayi var. lutea succumbed to what was probably verticillium wilt. But there are a few others I don't love and they "gots to go".   

I have been terribly lax on my plant database bookkeeping. I don't have the same enthusiasm to capture every name and nuance of every plant given to me. Not to mention blogging less and less. I may be living a more vicarious gardener's life through others new blogs now.

I have no plans to dig up any more grass. I've hit the sweet spot for what I can take care of as one gardener. Some grass may go to be replaced by gravel walkways that don't need mowed or edged.

While I'm still in love with my Shedteau, now that the flowerbeds around the patio are growing like crazy, they are already encroaching on the too-small-when-it-went-in patio. I'm really feeling like this needs to be remade, but what a pain in the ass that will be to dig all those plants, move three fish ponds (aka 630 gallons of fish and water lilies), remove the existing pavers, more gravel, pavers and sand, etc...!  Ugh. You get the idea.

Shedteau Yvette

Almost fishy winter sleepy-time.
There is one garden bed in the front, wrapped around by the house and the walkway that I think will be redone next year. I'm not real impressed with what I put in there and think it needs rehabbed.

There are other sections of the garden, that are missing something too. I think 2017 will be the year of ripping out and replacing. The under performers are going to get the boot. Either I will move something already in the garden that needs a new home or replacements will be bought. I need a gaggle of my garden buddies to come give me some tough love opinions about what to do.

I say all these things now, but 2017 is another year. I'm nothing if not a gardening enigma. We can only wait and see what really happens.

In the mean time, here are some recent pics of whats happening in the garden this week:

Crocus sativus (Saffron Crocus)
Camellia sasanqua 'Yuletide' blooming before Halloween!
Ponds and bogs on the driveway.
Cyclamen cuties.

Grevillea x 'Neil Bell' beginning to bloom.

Embothrium coccineum (Chilean Flame Tree) finally putting on some growth.
Tree peony
Late blooming Rabdosia longituba (Trumpet Spurflower)
Callicarpa americana (American Beautyberry)