Friday, May 1, 2015

May 2015 First Edition

Is it May Already?
The garden passed from 70ºF/21.11ºC to Freezing back to 70º/21.11ºC.
Come on over to see what survived.

 Opening Words

Gardening can be very stressful.  Over the last months I have talked about crown rot.  Between April 19th and 25th the topic arose again as St. Paul, Minnesota gardeners were faced with rain and then immediately followed by near freezing temperatures at night.  In the last weeks I tried to impress upon two friends that crown rot can occur when a plant s subjected to freezing temperatures AND storing water for growth.  We're not just talking about hosta it can be any plant which keeps its growth and reproductive organs BELOW ground.  When these cells burst from freezing conditions rot can quickly set in and destroy the remainder of the plant.  As long as the ground is saturated with water AND the plant attempts to take water in AND the temperature freezes; the plant is at risk of encountering crown rot.  Those three conditions need to occur.  Yes - i believe that soil moisture plays a small part in the process.

To take this to my hosta.  i have 18 hosta that have emerged.  Every one of those plants are actively taking in as much water as they can to grow.  Through four nights of near freezing temperatures and they've got conditions that might cause cells bursting from freezing and subsequent rotting.  With the right conditions water can freeze up to 36ºF./2.22ºC.  This says nothing about the other 16 hosta UNDER the ground that have NOT emerged yet - they too are subject to the same forces and conditions.  In defense of the ground I can say that the ground was for most part dry before the rain came.  But the near freezing conditions within 12 hours after the rain has me fairly concerned.  The two come just to close to one another.  Even it there was 24 hours I might feel more comfortable with water damping off from both the plants and inside the ground;  but less than 12 hours .. I have concern.

By Saturday the 25th I will know what the real damage will be.  The update will of course follow.

Part 2:
As this week passes I've not visited the hosta as I have my own silent fears as to what I might find.  I know eventually that moment will come and I will have to look at what is left.  The 30 day forecast suggests that after Friday the 24th will be the last of the freezing temperatures for this winter.  The 30 day forecast also suggests what the long range forecast has said; summer will be warm but dry,

Part 3 (April 25):
After 4 nights of near freezing and freezing temperatures I have rechecked the plants once more to find that … there were no losses!  This is very far from what I had expected.  I had expected to find most of the hosta gone due to freezing and subsequent crown rot.  What I had found was in fact some growth with two more hosta spiking,  I need to give these plants more credit for handling cold and freezing temperatures.  With the previous expectation of total loss I even began to consider how to rebuild my garden if there was nothing left.  The newly posted question to the left reflects some of that sentiment and concern.

The First Half of the Blue Mayhem Project …

The first container of Frosted Mouse Ears seems to have survived  So there will be MANY Frosted Mouse Ears to attend to in the coming season.

I am waiting to see what happens to the second Frosted Mouse Ears, the two Liberty, and the Popcorn.  As I have had freezing I am counting on these even MORE!

General Questions for General Gardeners

The question I pose for the next two months has to do with either: hosta aesthetics, and/or what constitutes a hosta garden.  Gardens I think need to have something to make it distinctive or be noticed.  This article challenges you to look at the plants in your garden and the space you have.

Let's look at the first half of the line of thought.   Hosta have many characteristics beyond their size.  Many hosta growers can produce a lengthy list of characteristics from the plants in their garden.  From this point of view what characteristic(s) is missing from your hosta collection?  What variety might satisfy that characteristic for your garden?

The second half of the question is based more on limited space conundrum.  In my garden my space is 3ft 8ins x 8ft 8ins dimension.  Or 44in x 104in, or 4576 sq. in., or 31.78 sq. ft. - how you define it all comes out the same!  That's not much space for a garden.  Does a hosta garden have to be several dozen varieties of hosta OR can it be as simple as carefully selecting 1 to 4 varieties and then displaying them aesthetically (and letting them grow 'til maturity)?  Could a single variety of hosta be a garden?  Which one would might you chose?  How might you arrange that single hosta to become a statement?

In this case; for this moment; in the hosta community what is popular?  I could easily list my entire wish list, or I could list a lengthy list of hosta characteristics, but in either case it might become overwhelming for you to choose from.  Instead I offer a list of nine varieties which I feel have a certain amount of uniqueness, and have some reputation to be grown 'easily'.  IF your not familiar with these hosta you might want to visit to the website: which has an extensive presentation of photographs of hosta.

If your up to it select three or four hosta from listed in the left column that you would use aesthetically in your imaginary (or not so imaginary), limited space garden.

2015 Hosta Survival
Left hand numbers do not reflect garden location.

     Name                  Count      Spiked   Scaped    Flowered  Faded   x
1    Blue Mammoth          4d as 2r   0/00/00  00/00/00  00/00/00  00/00/00
2    Brooklynn's Baby Doll 1r
3    Chartreuse Wiggles    2d         4/14/15
4    Dancing Queen         2d
5    Dixie Chickadee       5d
6    Dragon Tails          2r         4/24/15
7    Emerald Tiara         8d         4/14/15
8    Faithful Heart        6d         4/13/15
9    Frosted Mouse Ears    2d         4/11/15
10   Gemstone              6d as 1r   4/15/15
11   Golden Tiara          8d         4/12/15
12   Gorgon                1r         4/15/15
13   Hacksaw               1d         4/15/15
14   Holy Mouse Ears       2d         4/25/15
15   Imp                   2c         4/11/15

16   Irish Mist            1r
17   Itsy Bitsy Spider     2d
18   June                  1r         4/25/15
19   'kinbotan'            6d         4/11/15
20   Lemon Lime            3d         4/11/15
21   Little Devil          4d as 2c   4/28/15
22   Little Sunspot        2d         4/11/15
23   Masquerade            1c         4/11/15

24   Mighty Mouse          1d
25   Popcorn               1d
26   Princess Wu Wu        1d         4/28/15
27   Rainbow's End         1r         4/16/15
28   Stiletto              1r         4/14/15
29   Sum and Substance     4d as 1r   4/15/15
30   T-Rex                 1d         4/25/15

31   The Razor's Edge      1d         4/30/15
22   'venusta'             1r         4/11/15

33.  Vulcan                2d as 1r   4/28/15
34   X-Ray (first up 2014) 4d as 1r   4/27/15

Season total at this time is: 25 : 34     74% x
White = Not seen yet.
Green = Survived.
Red   = no signs of Crown Rot (April 25). Concern has now passed.

Hosta Notes
Numbers after the hosta names are garden locations (00)

April 18:  The plants that  have come up look good.  Other gardeners around me say my plants are up earlier than others around the area.  That has good and bad points.  In the past I have been one of the last ones up.

The temperatures continues to swing into the 40º and 50º daytime ranges; and the night time brings this small city garden again touching the freezing range again.  In this up and down swing of temperatures (seemingly alternating weeks) I may still loose plants to freezing and onset of crown rot.  Sadly the two go hand and hand.  I can only hope that the cities warmth will be enough to hold back the freezing temperatures.  April showers have been infrequent so I am uncertain what that will do for hosta growth.

With a little disbelief I find that Hacksaw has survived.  It went to be bed looking insecure and fragile.  A very small but definite spike is on this one and has opened..  Recalling last years planting: it had one division that had two halves to it.  it made me wonder if it was about to split to become two divisions last year. As one division arose I am compelled to think that it actually was ONE division regardless of its appearance.  April 25 The two leaves seen at this point still seem so fragile; but I know more will grow and they will continue to be larger.

The biggie Sum and Substance has just nearly broken the ground surface; but it is coming with two spikes; There is defiantly more coining.  April 18: Spikes continue to grow but I am only seeing 4 compared to the 7 that were there last year - maybe more will come.   Three of them are distinctly large and one seems to be smallish.  April 25  I swear this plant is moving southwest in my garden on an annual basis.  Last years leaf growth was highly corrugated and crumpled,  Maybe this year the plant will finally give me its enormous leaves that it is known for.

Sighting Rainbow's End is a welcomed surprise.

The Razor's Edge has still not been seen.  it was planted close to Rainbow's End that it might be confused with those Petiole in early stages of the spring, although the leaves are quite different as they grow.  This is one that a brick took the micro-stake out earlier this spring.

Lemon Lime seems to have 3 divisions this year.  AT this time it has the space is the two divisions that I moved last year.  April 25  Leaves look elongated this year with little or no roundness.

Masquerade also is opening spikes.  April 25 First streaks of white seen.

April 22: Building water for hoses has been turned on.  They will get their first, hand watering on Monday as rain is forecast on Friday.  On this evening of the coldest dip in temperatures for this week I recall myself saying last fall that what ever does NOT come up does not get replaced.  I think may have to rethink that personal promise to myself.  IF any of the 18 hosta die does that mean I replace them since they DID come up,  Ummm.  18 x $15.USD = $270.USD …

April 25: the hosta count continues with no losses from crown rot!

Dancing Queen(12) It is good to see this back as this hosta has had a very hard life in this garden.  I feel only one spike at this year; there ought to be more than one spike down there somewhere.

June(16) An expected annual arrival.  I keep hoping that it will give me its bright yellow.

Holy Mouse Ears(22)  A sigh of relief as I was beginning to wonder if it would spike,

Little Devil(26)  Another welcomed arrival as this variety has grown on me over the years,

April 28: Brings more hosta to the surface with:  Princess Wu Wu(4),  Vulcan(19), and Mighty Mouse(29).

I had quietly hoped that Princess Wu Wu would not survive, but she;s a fighter.  So much of a fighter thatI I think there maybe two spikes coming!

Vulcan has long been waited for this year.  It had strong growth two years ago after I had planted it, and robust growth last year as it rested for that year.  Maybe this year we can again see some good sized leaves like there were when it arrived!

Mighty Mouse … This was one of those plants that arrived a little unexpectedly last year.  Wile it goes into the idea of a horde of mice; the name kind disrupted that theme I and going of Chaos and Destruction for this garden since Mighty Mouse was a Hero not a villain.  This mouse is back and seems to aave a decent spike coming.

This total of 24 hosta that have spiked now surpasses the 2013 year of disappointment where only 10 of 18 hosta (or 56%) survived.  The next milestone I will watch for will be at hosta number 30 to spike which will match last years survival rate of 90% - that's 6 hosta away.  We still have not reached the 70ºF/21.11ºC for actual growing for this season; and that will come shortly AFTER this edition has been posted.  The Mid-May edition ought to be just as exciting as this one!

April 29:  (Trying to be funny)  The hosts seem to be playing games with me. One day I see one up and the next It seems not to be there.  At the time of this writing the following hosta are joining in this game playing:  Dancing Queen, Vulcan, Little Devil, and Mighty Mouse.

After much searching I have finally found the location where The Razor's Edge ought to come up.  It was one of those hosta that had a brick come by and take its micro-stake out this spring.   I feel now that all of the locations have been accounted for.

I should really be pleased at this point since last year I was only able to get 19 hosta up.  This year I have (at this point) 25 up.  No matter how one looks at it that in itself is an improvement, and a success.

After I did the layout and set this post for release I found that The Razor's Edge is up!

Forecasts all say this is the END of the freezing.  I'll see you next time with more adventures in this extremely small garden … and maybe even a surprise!

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