Jan 29, 2017

Some Notes on the Effect of GA-3 on Paeony suffruticosa seeds

Some Notes on the Effect of GA-3
on Paeony suffruticosa seeds

In September of 2014 I purchased a pitiful specimen of Paeony suffruticosa "Shima daijin' [more often spelled as one word]. The price was reduced, for obvious reasons, to just $1.00, a bargain. Well, with a good deal of 'tender loving care', it recovered nicely, and has bloomed quite well the last three years, and produced seed.

Previous attempts to germinate the seed have been disastrous, due mainly to neglect once planted, so, in 2016 I decided to take a little more care and try to keep track of them.

On September 17th I divided thirty seeds into three groups of ten. These I subsequently soaked for 24 hours in one of three solutions: distilled water, hydrogen peroxide 3%, and GA-3 (1,000ppm). The seeds were then placed in plastic bags with damp vermiculite and put in the refrigerator. I began checking weekly for germination after a couple of months.

On December 18th one of seeds soaked in GA-3 had produced a root (92 days), and on January 3rd of this year I was able to transfer 6 seeds with substantial roots to individual pots. The pots were covered with plastic and placed on a seed mat under fluorescent lights.

As of today, January 29th, none have produced a shoot above ground. Of those soaked in water or hydrogen peroxide, still in the refrigerator, none have shown any evidence of germination.

More study/experimentation is needed, but I think I will be using a GA-3 soak in the future for Paeony seeds, varying the concentration.

Jan 25, 2017

Where Have all the Robins Gone?

Where Have all the Robins Gone?

We have several Holly trees that, since we planted a male tree six or seven years ago, are loaded with bright red berries every fall. And every November I would remind myself to cover a few of the heaviest fruited branches with netting to keep the birds from eating them. I always forget, and ended up with a beautiful bushy branch nearly devoid of crimson berries, not much of a decoration. [The Holly branch, among other nostalgic decorations, reminds me of childhood Christmases in England.]

This past autumn the Holly trees were absolutely covered with berries, but, as in previous years, I neglected to cover them. But, unlike other years, last year the birds were strangely absent or else had filled-up on better fare, and I harvested to my hearts content. Right through the holiday season I could look out the upstairs windows onto Holly trees that were more red than green. I didn’t give birds a thought.

Then, on January 7th, around noon, I looked out and saw the holly tree branches dancing in the light snowfall and 10 degree air. The trees were alive with robins! They seemed to be working in two shifts of two to three dozen each. It was frantic behavior. While one group was gorging itself the other group rested in some nearby hazel nut shrubs. In the picture there are at least nineteen birds. By late afternoon they had stripped every berry from the trees. And then they were gone. As suddenly as they appeared they left. Where they went, or where they came from I have no idea. The robins usually arrive early in the spring and for a few days will fill literally cover our lawns as they forage for worms and emerging insects. What brought them here in the middle of winter I can’t imagine. If they are heading south they are getting a very late start, and where have they been for the past few months, further north? If they are responding to the 37 degree isotherm they need to recalibrate their sense organs as it has been in the single digit or low teens for weeks. And if they are responding to the suns position in the sky the same applies. I can only surmise they were a flock that overslept and are now desperately seeking a milder climate to the south. Holly berries are usually not a birds first, or even second choice. Well, they were a delight while they were here.

Jan 21, 2017

A Few Winter Musings

A Few Winter Musings

Still in the teens or single digits at night but the house is a warm and very welcome refuge - much like caves and hollow logs must have seemed to those who came a few years before us. But, just because there are a few feet of snow on the ground, and the air rings like a cathedral bell when you talk [aloud to yourself of course] doesn’t mean we cannot get a ‘head-start’ on the planting season. Several seed exchanges are in progress, but already a variety of pentstemon seeds have arrived. Nine species of those received will germinate much better if they are stratified for 8-12 weeks prior to actual planting, and that is what I am preparing them for in the photos. The seedling plants are Morina longifolia, a Himalayan plant, and they are growing much faster than I would prefer. I grew several from seed four or five years ago but as their mature leaves look much like those of a thistle someone else (related by marriage) weeded them out before they had a chance to bloom. The one surviving plant blooms yearly, and this year I managed to collect ten seeds, of which nine germinated (kudos for fresh seed). Had I been more attentive I might have harvested many dozens, but with several hundred plants to keep track of I excuse myself for my negligence) - those in the (out of focus) picture. Hoping some of the hybridized rhododendrons seedlings I have been growing for the last four+ years have survived this cold spell and will blossom this spring so I can make selections, and then compost the rest. Damn, these things take so long to produce results I sometimes wish I was fifty years younger, or even just fifty? And, wondering what was making that 'tap-tap-tap' outside my window I opened the curtain.

Seeds, damp sand/vermiculate, and a few months in the refrigerator


Morina longifolia

Tap-tap-tap (screen ripped by falling ice)

The Snow Continues

A metal roof on a house has some advantages, especially in places that experience reasonable - even unreasonable - snowfall every year, but, when the temperature remains in the single digits day after day after day, the snow continues to accumulate, and, when the thermometer finally creeps above freezing for a few hours the entire mass is released. Today the avalanche ripped off our rain gutters and flattened one of the bedroom deck railings. At least I now have a few springtime projects to look forward to. We now have to step up a foot or so when we leave the house. I shake my fist at the sky and say: bring it on, I love you.

Staying healthy

Today, January 21,2017

So, what does one do when the weather outside is not conducive to outside activity (unless you include chipping ice off the approach to our front porch). You keep planting seeds (rhododendron and primula today) and, bake bread!
While not as straight forward as making most breads I love the texture and flavor of ciabatta. Made the biga yesterday afternoon and continued with the process this morning. Although not as brown as I would like (I blame that on using ‘pure convection bake’) they turned out looking presentable, and as soon as I post this I’m going to grab a pound of butter and put the bread to the ultimate test.
Oh, and the Morina are coming along nicely.

Making the biga


Morina, transplanted