Friday, April 15, 2016

April 2016 Second Edition

The Hosta Keep Spiking ...
The Concrete Has Been Patched ...
All That's Left is to Investigate This Critter!
Opening Words

Not sure what to say.  The month opened cold, and after a long wait we've finally warmed up.  At this writing the main raised bed has twenty (20) hosta up with nine (9) left to go.  That's kinda remarkable for mid-April.  The 70°F / 21.11°C temperature range is trying to settle in, and as that progresses it may help the last nine (9) to spike.  I've done three waterings by hand as the hoses have not been put out yet.  That ought to come soon.  I guess that's where this edition begins.

Hosta On the Way

White Feather
  • Attempt #1: was concluded last year (2015).
    • Note: I did get a refund on this order.  Although we went through a lot of work to get it.
  • Attempt #2
    • Dec 2015  was reordered from Nursery C.
    • 3/28/16  Has not arrived, nor have I seen a delivery notice at this time.
    • 4/6/16  Shipping being delayed due to St. Paul weather.  Long range forecasts now say April 12 will bring the last day of freezing temperatures.
    • 4/10/16White Feather arrives on a cold and blustery day.  But fear not this is the LAST cold and blustery day of winter!  The temperatures only go up from here!  As this came from Virginia I am acclimating the plant for this setting.
      • Soaking the plants in lukewarm water for about 2 hours.
      • Will be mixing the original soil, local soil, and sheep manure and the water that I soaked them in to make the standard planting sludge.
      • Watering them with some more lukewarm water after they are planted.
Hoping this will be enough to pull them through this evening and the next few days.
Itsy Bitsy Spider
  • I've begun to put word out that I am looking for some of this variety.  Not sure if I will get any response.  If no response comes, I'll resort to buying some.

The Hosta Survival Report

April 2:
As an ice storm comes this way, a friend calls for other reasons [JM of St. Paul], and I mention the 6 hosta that have come up.  They say casually ask if isn't there something you can do to protect those plants?  I reply, "I don't think so."  As the evening wears on I remember the plastic sheeting I have, and slowly become guilty about not doing what I suggest to my own readers to do!  So at 12 something at night I pull out the plastic, duct tape and the bricks to quickly construct a tarp for the plants in the raised bed.  If I am going to honest I also need to thank my roommate [AD], who is my hosta enabler, for the extra hands to pull this off.

I checked the Hosta in Garden C on April 3, and found [without surprise] that all five varieties probably spiked on March 31 or possibly before.
  • August Moon
  • Dancing Queen
  • Elegan
  • Striptease
  • Undulata Albomarginata (all 8 plants)
This means that this entire garden is up, and well on its way again this year!  I have some passing concern from last year if Striptease is identified correctly.  I'll take an extremely close look at the leaves this summer.

April 3:
Little Sunspot [Garden B; spiked]
  • Grew acceptably last year but never showed any yellow.  Maybe it will this year.
Gemstone [Garden A; spiked]
  • This will be the 3rd year plant this year, and I am hoping that it expands a little this year - yet; but also not sign of red on this one yet either.
Vulcan [Garden A; spiked]
  • Of the five Vulcan planted last year at this point there is one very strong spike being felt.  That fact is not bad, because all it takes is one division to take hold to create a round of hosta.  As it is early in the season, I suspect there will be more Vulcan coming later.
April 6:
Imp (Garden B)
  • Despite the cold, these spikes are growing.
April 7:
Put the tarp up again last night. While it rained I don't think it froze.  Never hurts to be to careful.

The two week forecast suggests that the temperature for the cities will rocket up to the 70°F / 21.11°C range mid-week next week - summer is COMING!  These hosta are about to go crazy with growth!  Somewhere in me it is saying I am about to have another 90% success year within the Garden A: the raised bed; but then again I always get optimistic this time of the year.  Garden C ALWAYS pulls through with all of it's plants coming up.  Garden B: the Yellow Garden will be interesting to see how many REALLY survive as this will be its first year to come back.

April 8:
We had snow this morning.  Probably will melt by this afternoon.
  • Faithful Heart (Garden B; spiked)
    • Hesitated two (2) days before declaring it up.  Last year it was both vigorous and compact in growth after being moved.  The spikes look exceptionally white rather than green.
April 9:
At 42°F / 5.56°C I have bitter wind to deal with.  Looked at only half of Garden A.
Rainbow's End (Garden A)
  • Is fighting to come up with its first leaf half under the ground it had fought hard to open it for what it can.  A second leaf is on its way and that ought to open fully.  Went out a second time to clear the dirt away ... to find 3 to 4 spikes trying to push through.  Hoping that will help its survival for the season.  I normally do not have a habit of coddling hosta to grow, and I know I transplanted this when its leaves had come up last year.  So I find this a little odd.  Non-the-less the plant has survived.
Vulcan (Garden A)
  • The wind prevents me from concentrating on finding the original spike of this plant.  There seems to be several spikes about to be seen.  As the temperatures rise so will these spikes.  It's looking very promising at the moment for this variety.
April 10:
The hosta keep coming — as they ought to!
Gorgon (Garden A, spiked)
  • Has one very small spike to begin this season with.  This hosta had been effected by what ever is under the garden last year.  Hoping that more of this hosta comes up.
Hacksaw (Garden A, spiked)
  • Has again returned with two very small spikes at this point!  This hosta brings the success total to 14; which signals the half way point for the collection to come up in this garden.
Golden Tiara (Garden B; spiked)
  • It was reliable in the raised bed, it is proving once again to be equally reliable in this retaining wall!
Liberty (Garden A; spiked)
  • Has one very small spike to begin this season with.  I had expected a small cluster of spikes this year considering the size of the rhizome cluster when I planted it last year.  It is still early so more may come with warmer weather.
Little Devil (Garden A; spiked)
  • After several years of trying to establish this plant this plant seems to have decided to stay for the second consecutive year!
Stiletto (Garden A; spiked)
  • This hosta has again returned for another season with a small light green spike.
The Razor's Edge (Garden A)
  • I am still being very impressed with the spikes emerging for this hosta.  The last two year it has looked a little ratty; but this year that will change I think. This plant ought to begin to show some of its impressive foliage this year.

April 11:
White Feather (Garden A)
  • At this point not in Garden A - yet.  It will be taking Fire and Ice's place AFTER that comes up, AND after I have a final determination of the critter in the garden.
April 13:
Dixie Chickadee (Garden A; spiked)
  • Seeing 2 spikes at this point.  Hoping that the other 4 will come eventually.
Holy Mouse Ears (Garden A; spiked)
  • Both plants seem to be up.
Popcorn (Garden A; spiked)
  • Two spikes are up but neither are the plant from last year.  Maybe that will come later.
April 13:
Dixie Chickadee (Garden A; spiked)
  • Seeing 2 spikes at this point.  Hoping that the other 4 will come eventually.
April 14:
Dancing Queen  (Garden A; spiked)
  • The first two of three plants have signs of spikes.
Holy Mouse Ears (Garden A; spiked)
  • After reexamining this plants relative position to others, this plant seems to be up.
Masquerade  (Garden A; spiked)
  • While very anemic in appearance this hosta ls up.  Will be watching this carefully.
Due to the way Rainbow's End has grown I am willing to give the title of 'First Leaf Open' to this plant.  During the spiking season I silently play 'hosta bingo' to see which line or row of Hosta come up first.  This year that goes to two alignments:  first to the Implements of destruction row; Hacksaw, Kinbotan, Stiletto, and The Razor's Edge; and second to the outer West Line: Hacksaw, Vulcan, Teaspoon, and Rainbow's End (see diagram).  In past years this has not occurred until the very last spike was seen.  It is sort of exciting to see this in the middle of the spiking stage.
At this point I have technically 22  : 29 hosta up in this garden; which represents a success of: 76% at this stage.  From my view that's really impressive for this time of the year.  I am very certain that there will be more to come.  I begin to hold my breath to see just how many of those last 7 plants in Garden A really will survive this year.  The garden is about a month early at this point; and the temperatures have not even leveled off into the 70°F / 21.11°C range yet!  As you read this the 70°F / 21.11°C range is very near at hand!  A lot can happen in 45 days!  Grow my hosta ... grow!

Did I Mentioned That I Am Overseeing Four Gardens?

Below is a diagram showing the relative positions of these four gardens.
Basic Drawing of the Garden locations.

Garden A:  The Chaos and Destruction Garden; which also looks at plant aesthetes.  [updated] 22 spiked with 29 varieties total.
Garden B:  The Yellow Garden.  Four (4) spiked with five (5) varieties total.
Garden C:  A garden initially established by previous residents in a patterned arrangement.  This garden consists of 5 varieties across 12 plants; they've all spiked.
Garden D:  What will be the Mouse Ear's Collection of 20 or so varieties.  Nothing is planted at this time.

What Are We Really Saying When We Say,
"Hosta First Up"?

For many years we've heard person after person say, "x hosta were first up in my garden."  It is good to note what came up and when.  But what are we really saying.  From my view it says nothing other than s moment of 'Celebration of Spring', and that too can be good.  If the obsessive gardener digs just a little harder into their records (several years of data) one might begin to get some very interesting data from those "first ups".

I went back through 3 years of information and based on the first day sighting that had been noted, and found that the more likely hosta to come up are listed below.  Note that each of these spiked on March 31 this year.
Lemon Lime
Sum and Substance
I was a bit surprised that there was a little consistency at what came up 'first'.  At this stage these five hosta now represent for me 'indicator hosta'.  As in they indicate when winter is over, and spring is about to arrive.  These are the hosta I need to learn to look for FIRST in the spring before I look for the others in my garden.  Your garden(s) may have different hosta or plants to indicate this.  These same hosta may also like those earlier cool mornings and near freezing temperatures that may occur in some regions of the world during the early spring.

As I only have three years of data to work from I might suggest that the next hosta in my garden that will spike will be:
Frosted Mouse Ears [spiked April 13
Little Sunspot [spiked April 3]
Masquerade [spiked April 13]
Rainbow's End [spiked April 9]
Teaspoon [spiked March 31]
Now it is true that I cannot fully say this yet since the first three on this second list have not spiked this year, but these will be watched in the next days (early April) to see if they among the next to spike.  As this information reflects.  You need to note that Teaspoon has only been in my garden for one winter so it has a lower first up 'score'.  Rainbow's End I wonder should have been seen had it not been miss planted.  I'll give it a benefit of the doubt for now; and make a note to replant it when the first leaves stabilize.

As more annual data is compiled these groupings will change; and I am guessing will become more stable as time goes on.   As obvious as it is the next 'First Up' new data can't be added until ... next year when the cycle begins yet again.  Some things in gardening take time.

Closing Words

At this point between my gardens I am taking care of there are only 8 hosta that are not up!  That's very remarkable for me right now.  I know there are more coming but am unsure if all 8 will come (attentive readers will notice the count change from the beginning).  I suspect it will be very close this year.  Early May will bring an indication as to how this critter will be dealt with; and then I'll look at rearranging this garden.  Until then let's hope it begins raining because watering plants buy hand can be boring.

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