Tuesday, March 1, 2016

March 2016 First Edition

PDF Companion Reference Files for this Edition 

Database Table B
Only has last years records.  No change from last month as nothing has spiked yet.  
Dated: 3/1/16
Diagram Table B
Shows the current coverage of snow and ice over the garden at this time of year (the blue over the garden).  Dated:
Thursday, February  25 at 2:00 PM.

This month I was compelled to add an AM/PM indicator to my diagrams as the morning had one condition it was nearly free of snow, and by noon it was snowed over again!  The diagrams has these in light blue, and black.  The light blue indicates that it reflects that time. If no indicator is given presume that it was observed at about 5 PM.

Ya Know, Its Still Preseason Here in Minnesota.
So in This Issue I am Going to Look at Anticipated Changes. 

Hosta On the Way 

White Feather
  • Attempt #1: Is concluded.
    • Note: I did get a refund on this order.  Although we went through a lot of work to get it.
  • Attempt #2
    • Dec 2015  Will reordered the plant from Nursery C
    • 3/28/16  I've schedule the arrival for week of March 28th. 

Hosta at Risk for 2016

According to my records ... in 41 days I might begin to see those little green spikes of spring (hosta) coming up!  In past years I have made speculations about what might survive the winter and what might not.  This year ... I find it awkward to do as I have this critter in the garden (which will be eventually dealt with later).

By past experience the following hosta may be prone to difficulties in the spring.  The difficulty is not the plants themselves.  I believe their placement in the garden might be the issue.  The lower west side and the front outer edge seem to be more prone to more cold than the rest of the garden.

ID   Name                2015 Situation or comment
9    Dancing Queen       Replaced
11   Hacksaw             Moved
15   Vulcan              Replaced
20   Teaspoon            Added
25   Rainbow's End       Moved; patented plant
26   Dixie Chickadee     Replaced
27   Masquerade          Moved

As I have a critter I must also consider the following may be at risk as well:

2    Lemon Lime          Moved
4    Sum and Substance   Affected during 2015
6    Fire and Ice        Added
7    Liberty             Added, patented plant
9    Gorgon              Affected during 2015
10   Gemstone


This comes to an estimate of 13 hosta that MIGHT BE affected over the winter.  That's about 1/3 of my garden!  For the longer time followers of my blog you might notice that Popcorn is not on this list this year.  That is because it did survive last year - whilst it was a very small plant; and I did reinforce it with two others last year.  I'm going to say Popcorn will make a return to my garden this coming year.  According to some hosta growers Popcorn is a 1 [gardener] in 50 plant as some consider it to be mildly difficult to grow.

Hosta I Have Hopes for in 2016

The top plants I am looking forward to seeing again this year are:
  • Empress Wu
    • Grew 18 leaves last year on its first season; that's a fully mature eye of Hosta according to some textbooks.
  • Rainbow's End
    • I've grown to like the two tone green coloration.  I can't say it grew 18 leaves last year, but it was a beautiful  plant.
  • Gorgon
    • This plant was supposed to be 3 feet in diameter last year ... I am hoping it can be the center piece in the garden.
  • Liberty
    • A plant that I acquired after seeing just how beautiful it could get.
  • Sum and Substance
    • Another long time plant in this collection that was held back.
  • Tortifrons
    • New addition last year which has leaves that look like grass.  Somewhat similar and yet very different to Itsy Bitsy Spider.

Both Gorgan, and Sum and Substance had been effected by whatever critter it might be under the garden.  I am hoping that each can be salvaged to survive.

No Blue Meyham's This Winter

... but I've thought about them.  To bring everyone up to speed as to WHAT a 'blue mayhem' is ... last winter (2014-2015) I began a project to try to grow hosta seed inside during the winter.  The seed I used as from two Blue Mammoth plants.  Since hosta seed does not grow true to the parent plant ... I referred to them as Blue Mayhems.

I guess I did not proceed with this winter's attempt at it due to the garden critter out there; and the LED lights not working last winter.  I've got seeds hidden around here to be used and it has been suggested that as long as the seed remains dry, it is still viable.  So ... at this time it is looking like next winter for a second try at this.  The lights also are working at this point, so every thing is waiting for the second attempt when I get to it.

But There Just Maybe Some Itsy Bitsy Spiders Coming Back 

During that growing seasons of 2013 and 2014 I tried Itsy Bitsy Spider.  The hosta is said to be the smallest retail hosta that is sold.  I liked the plant so much I used it on my business card for this Blog!  Currently, there is a local vendor that will be having it this season,  I may (after the critter is dealt with) get some to try again.  Maybe put it with Tortifrons, and Chartreuse Wiggles as those also have grass like characteristics.

As two national (USA) tissue culture production houses closed last year the cost of many of your plants (hosta included) will be increasing this year and possibly into next year at your favorite plant vendor. The increase I am seeing from my end (at this time) is about 33% more expensive.

Warmth Begins to Return ...

Feb 12, 2016: The 14 day forecast suggests that St. Paul thawing and freezing may begin!  On February 18 the temperatures are predicted to return to above freezing and even move into the 40°F / 4.44°C range for the first time of the year.  This same forecast also suggests that these temperatures will sustain day time temperatures in the above freezing range for a short period on or about February 18th.  The first full uncovering of the garden might occur by the end of the month (February) - and that would be extremely early.  As I have also previously observed Minnesota can get pounded very hard with snowstorms all of the way into April.

Feb. 19, 2016: As I observed last year my internal instincts for when the year changes is when the first spike is seen in the garden [2015 had an 8 way tie for first up].  This usually happens during April; 30 days after the snow uncovers itself from the garden; about 2 weeks after the neighbor's hosta comes up.  The longer range forecast suggests that the next chance for sustained above freezing temperatures will begin during early April possibly just after the 8th.

Feb. 20th, 2016:  I've noticed that the projected night time temperatures no longer suggest a sustained above freezing condition for these plants in the next 7 days.  As such the night freezing is going to challenge these plants to survive the winter.  The reality of what might survive this winter has certainly has been/will be tested; and my guess' mentioned above may be more true than not.  Conversely I've hit myself over the head in past years for not trusting these plants enough to survive.

As I never was able to fully cut plants back last fall (because of my back); I'll have some clean up to do when the ground dries out.  It won't be hard to do.  As i am not seeing any precipitation in the next week, maybe it will dry by next Friday (Feb. 26)‽

I've sat here and remembered how close the garden came to begin its micro-ecosystem last year.  This happens when the hosta area is lush and has some impressive growth where the leaves are large enough to hold the water in the garden area.  As that happens the gardener can begin to watering less since the ground moisture is retained.

Feb. 23. 2016 AM: The snow has again graced my garden's but only less than an inchThe forecast says it will reach to 39°F / 3.89°C.  Will the snow or temperature win?

Feb. 25, 2016: With 50°F / 10.00°C being predicated before the end of February this garden will be totally clear of snow, for the first time, by then.   The one month forecast suggests that temperatures after the first week of March will keep the day time teperagers above freezing here on out.  The same forecast still has the late part of the first week of April starting temperatures continuously above freezing.

Feb. 26, 2016It is 41°F / 5.00°C, and the stretch of ice seemingly refuses to melt ... tomorrow it supposed to get to 57°F / 13.89°C.  Will see what happens.

Feb. 27, 2016Being both serious and funnyThe temperature reached 60°F / 15.56°C.  The ice melted from the garden spaces.  And what do I get for that?  A prediction of snow for today and tomorrowFear not for the forecast says the temperatures will only drop to 30°F / -1.11°C.  The snow ought not be that much.  My guess is that it will be less than 1 in. / 2.54 cm., or simply a dusting, just like the last one we had!

The ground, when it was looked at yesterday, felt like mud.  This sets the stage for a textbook scenario for crown rot IF the plants take any water in.  Trying to look at this from the optimistic view pointThe garden was on the dry side when it froze last November.  There has been no rain during this uncovering of the garden; hence the only water added was from the snow and ice that melted.  The water that meted was far less than foot deepthe old adage was that for every 1 ft. / 3.05 dm. of snow there was 1 in. / 2.54 cm. of water.  As a gardener I have to hope that the dryness of the garden in the early winter will be enough to hold the melted moisture from the winter snow to still protect the hosta that are also in the ground.  The true telling of this will be in about 45 days when spikes emerge once more.

Based on the forecasts alone spring might be early this year, if only by a week or two.  That's what this blog is about watching the hosta grow their cycles!

So What Makes White Feather so Special?

At the end of the month White Feather will be arriving.  White Feather is considered to be a 'white' hostaI thought I might be wise to recollect my own thoughts about this hosta before that time.  There's been a lot of discussions about this variety online, from the 'it's not that special', to the 'it's harder than most to grow', to the 'summer green color is ugly' type comments.  From my view every hosta has something to offer presuming that the gardener will accept what it has.

In my opinion White Feather has some pretty special features although they are not all tangible to be seen.  First spring emergence of the spike and leaves are white; most every one will agree with that.  What makes this emergence special is that the white is held as long as possible (reports suggest until the temperatures crosses 60°F / 15.56°C threshold) and then the leaves change color.  Depending on the photograph seen online [and presuming that the photographs are properly labeled] this transition may express itself form a vein  to leaf transformation; or as a direct leaf transformation of color, to a light green.  I generally think of the green as a 'sea foam' green, others have called it a mint green.  The holding of its white is what makes this hosta special because many hosta that change color will shift the white as fast as possible since white color on any leaf (Hosta or other wise) are parts of the leaf that has no chlorophyll being produced.  Plants can only survive by the production of chlorophyll; if there's no chlorophyll, there's no food.   White Feather is different as it survives the first few weeks of spring by taking all if its stored energy from its rhizomes and uses that to live on before producing its chlorophyll.

It is this collection of stored energy is also what gives this hosta a reputation of an early dormancy hosta in the fall; and sometimes gives the variety the reputation of a hard hosta to grow; because it must regather its energy for the next springs color show of white to green foliage all over again.  The early to bed and early to rise cycle makes sense however.

I also looked carefully at this hosta reputed diameter from other sites.  I've seen ranges from 12 in. / 30.48 cm. all the way up to 36 in. / 91.44 cm.   My experience says this is a very wide range of diameters being reported.  The reputed height seems to be reported at a consistent 15 in. to 18 in. / 38.10 cm. to 45.72 cm.  As I am more willing to trust the reported height (in this case) the diameter might be effected by the available sunlight given to this variety over the growing season.   If the reports of a diameter of 36 in. / 91.44 cm. are correct this would make an very impressive spring plant in a garden; but considering the heigth alone my guess is that the diameter might be closer to 30 in. / 76.20 cm.

As for it's color later in the season, I remind my readers that I first thought that the coloration on Rainbow's End was a bit garish [in this meaning a poor set of colors being used together] but I've grown to like it.  The green of White Feather may be one of those colors that the viewer must learn to appreciate.

Naturally I've never seen any of this personally.  So as this plant is added to my garden and is watched; I will learn the realities of how White Feather really grows.  Stay tuned for those adventures!  Next edition I will write about how White Feather fits the theme of my garden.

Closing Words

My growing season will start with adding White Feather, and then moves on to dealing with the eradication of a critter under the garden.  This critter WILL effect what survives; but to what degree has yet to be seen.  It makes me just a little hesitant to add White Feather in the first place!  The 13 hosta that I've noted as being at risk will be watched for carefully; but the catch 22 for this year is that when the time comes to actually deal with the critter I might have to remove all 28 plants for a short period of time to explore just what the extent the burrowing has become below the surface.

To add to this inconvenience of this critter ... building management has reminded me of some concrete work that needs to be addressed this year on my raised bed as well!

AT the very least ... the garden will earn its theme of Chaos and Destruction this growing season!

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