Saturday, March 1, 2014

March 2014 (First Edition)

The growing season is about to begin!
I have been saving comments over the winter.
So this edition rambles a bit.

(Writing this during December 2013)

Winter this year was more busy than in the past; mostly due to the existence of the blog itself.  Way back in November I spent most of the month pulling together a photo/slide presentation of last years growing season with +70 pictures.  For those who have not seen it yet you can open the December 2013 issue to locate it. 

I hope many of you enjoyed it.  It took me two times to load a half decent version for everyone to see - but I am still not happy with the end result.  While I had training in developing slide shows in the past the creation of this presentation was an new learning experience.  Dealing with time limits for space and its length were quiet surprising to me and in the end I also had to deal with image and text deterioration going from the source and moving it to the end point.  I am not sure if I have all the issues worked out yet for next year.  I have a media friend (MW) who says. “Its o.k.”.

Even from December I started to work on the 2014 review presentation which YouTube may not be able to host due its length.  I know at this time there are other options out there and those will be looked into as the time comes to deal with those issues.  I am also investigating a new program platform to offer better effects.

Also in this vein I was politely but firmly reminded during December that not every one now days sits in front of a desktop monitor.  That is so true!  So the 2014 presentation will be in desktop and mobile formats.  Thank you JW for pulling out your Acme hammer and pounding me over the head.

Again back in November I began to work towards a shade screen system for my plants which get 100% sun during the mid day for between 2 to 3 hours.  The ideas are in motion but will take time to work through with neighbors, building management and owners to bring this into being.  Hosta like to have between 60 to 80 percent sun.  It they receive any more they burn, discolor, refuse to change color, will not grow large, or even refuse to produce flower scapes.  If they get any less sum it has been inferred to me that they just won’t grow.

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A Plant Review in the Middle of Winter?

Some 370 of you came running to this blog on December 20th, and found nothing new had been posted; when in fact I had done some cosmetic editing to these pages.  I discovered that Xanadu Empress Wu was a Patented Plant (PP) … so … the full name of this plant ought to be posted as Xanadu Empress Wu  PP 20774 CPBRAF.  In other news about XEW I have found suggestions that it CAN grow 4 ft. 6 in. in height which is 6 more inches than what I had originally researched it at last summer.  It still reigns supreme for being the tallest hosta.

Speaking of the Tallest Hosta …
The record book for hosta looks something like this:
  • The longest living Hosta is said to have been 130 years.  That’s gets interesting as hosta are rhizomatous in growth.  As in the rhizomes spread out into a circular pattern and eventually make what are known as “Fairy Rings’.  From the fairy ring stage they grow further to become their own independent fragmented rounds all over again!   Keep in mind that most hosta grow politely in tight rounds of circles, while only a few have been cited to grow rampantly across gardens.
  • The tallest Is Xanadu Empress Wu  PP 20774 CPBRAF.
  • The largest in diameter is Sum and Substance (9 feet in diameter).
  • The largest flowers are said to be Double Up (at 6 inches in diameter).
  • The smallest in retail availability is Itsy Bitsy Spider (at 6 inches or less in diameter).
  • The smallest from horticultural development was/is Archangel Micheal (estimated at 3 inches in diameter; a single division is estimated at less then the diameter of a U.S. Penny).
  • With the hosta with the largest leaf comes some debate, and with time will sort itself out.  The two with the noted largest leaves seem to be XEW and T-RexXEW being reported at 22 inches wide and 28 inches long; and T-Rex being reported at 12 inches wide by 18 inches long.  I have not read anywhere which the title has been given too.
  • The Hosta with the smallest width for leafs has not been considered by anyone but the gardener would like to suggest that it could either be Itsy Bitsy Spider or Hosta 'Grass' (actual name).
  • The Hosta with the smallest length for leafs also has not been considered by any one (although registration of hosta require this information) but again the gardener would like to suggest that might be a hosta known as Shiny Penny.  IF Archangel Micheal still exists that would take this record hands down.
  • The Hosta with the tallest scape has yet to be declared, but most documentation suggests that it would be taller than 72 inches which a select group of hosta scapes can reach.  I have seen photos of XEW with a flower.  Those seem to suggest that the scape is nearly as high as the plant itself if not slightly shorter!  So the rule of scapes being taller than the producing plant is false at least based on the photos I have seen.
  • The Hosta with the shortest scape has also yet to be declared, but most documentation suggests that it would be shorter than 4 inches which a small number of hosta do produce.  Unfortunately I can't at this time point to any candidates in this category,
Readers my want to note that this gardener has XEW, Sum and Substance, Itsy Bitsy Spider, and T-Rex in their garden (at least they were there when I cut them back last Autumn).  It is not by accident that these four are found here because of their attributed growth rates.

I have tried to grow Shiny Penny in the past but for unknown reasons it did not survive at that time.  It is a prime candidate for the theme of this garden since money can make some persons chaotic and destructive in behavior.

Sum and Substance is noted for its long scapes but they certainly do not grow 72 inches in length.

(Writing this during January 2014)
Getting updated plant posts has been in my plans for a few years now.  I have finally updated the software used for database work.  With that update I can move forward on the design of the plant posts that are engraved on front and printed in braille on the back for sight impaired visitors.  My next step is to talk to the engraving company about their requirements for braille work when the temperatures warm a little in the spring.

It seems strange how one can listen to music and get conceptual feeling from it. Today (January 28) I open my music player and find it starts with Madra De La Tierra by David Lanz from the Return to the Heart (1991) album and find the feeling of a gardening theme for the 2014 season.

(Writing this during February 2014) 
Crown Rot, and This Small Garden

With the middle of February coming we start the process of the thawing and freezing of water.  It is the most stressful time of the year that lasts about 60 days for hosta to pass through.  One of the hosta forums it has been suggested that I am fighting crown rot seasonally which may be attributing to higher than normal hosta loss annually.  For those who may not know crown rot occurs when the plant tissue freezes and then thaws and then freezes again which causes the plant tissue to burst, and in the end cause rot which does the plant in.  Hosta are particularly prone to this if they wind up standing in cold water that can not run off before it freezes again.

This year I will be attempting to pay particular attention to how the thawing and freezing occurs to see if there is any evidence of it standing water during the process.  This gets hard as hosta rhizomes can go as far as 18  (some suggest 24?) inches below the surface of the ground.  While everything I have read suggests that the primary growing structure of the plants all with in 6 inches of the surface (crown, growth bud, scape bud, etc).  In the end anything I may do may aggravate the situation further.  I guess I have to start somewhere.

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Mid-winter Fears and Hopes …

During 2012 I put to bed 18 plants and had 10 survive.  That comes to be a 56% success rate.  For the 2013 year I had 21 hostas in my garden by fall.  If I do a direct percent rate the target number of hosta is pointed at 11 to 12 plants or better to match the 56%; not a very impressive improvement if I look at that number range.  Some of you might remember I had predicted that I would have a 18 out of 21 rate of success; that is a 86%.  Those expected NOT to come up at that time were:
  • Itsy Bitsy Spider
  • Popcorn
  • Blue Mammoth
Since that time I have been told that Blue Mammoth ought to be pretty easy to grow.   Why I can’t grow it at this time is a mystery.  Popcorn I have been told is a harder hosta to grow.  It has been suggested that 1 in 50 growers have success with this variety.  I have no referred information about Itsy Bitsy Spider from others.  What I have read suggests that it is slower plant to grow; what I have seen suggests that it could be a moderate grower as it attempted to rebound after the hot temperatures last summer with several small leaves coming forth.  I am still a bit concerned if it was not planted deep enough; while at the same time I must keep in mind that it IS the smallest hosta sold.

Xamadu Empress Wu was ordered and planted late, but seemed to adapt well.  I silently have hopes for a success this spring for the giant among Hosta!  By the way this is a patented plant registered with the Patent Office of the USA which restricts the distribution of the plant to the Originator ONLY for several years (25 I think).

Other hopeful successes I want to see are:
  • Dragon Tails
  • Gorgon (expected)
  • Little Devil
  • Vulcan (expected)
  • X-Ray
Yes, the others are equally important but for some reason they do not draw my attention right now.  The count down for the growing season is ±60 days when we find out what comes up and … what does not!

The exciting hosta I have spotted this winter are Total Eclipse (with its stunning coloration), Country Dreaming (with it’s potential for being REAL blue hosta), and Cherry Berry (with its candy red scapes and seed pods).  I await, like many others, to see the first RED hosta somewhere in the future (within 10 years?).  And will there ever be a Black Hosta?

My wish list now stands at 287 varieties between the themes of Chaos and Destruction (134), and Aesthetic Value (153).  There are 27 cross-overs between the two categories.  In the next few weeks I will reload my general Information pages for the coming year with the March (Second Edition).

The shade sail concept has fallen through with the management company (and owners) for this location diverting the discussion to ‘other issues’ when we had a meeting a week or so ago to discuss the topic.  Feeling this tactic was a bit disingenuous to purpose of the meeting.  I would think they would be outraged at someone else pulling that stunt with them.  My only hope now is that a dwarf tree in common space will grow another 4 feet up and a few more feet wider over the coming years.

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A Single Change in Format This Year
Round the Neighborhood (the fantasy serialization story) will be given its own pages this year to delineate the line between Real and Fantasy on this blog.

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