The Good, the Bad and the Crazy!

The Good

The good is very simple… my plants survived the coldest winter since 1978!  I don’t know if I mentioned in the last post… I guess I should have checked, but Environment Canada has claimed that this winter has been the coldest since 1978… I can believe it!

I was outside on the weekend cleaning up the bogs, cleaning out the leaves and the pine needles that I left behind and giving the plants a good check.  I’m going to say that 99 percent of the collection came through unscathed.

The Bad

Some of the seedlings didn’t make it (not completely surprised by that), and a few adult plant suffered “heaving”.  This year the soil froze down to the bottom of the bogs and part of the surface heaved up from the ice, exposing some of the rhizomes.  A few of these plants might not make it… but again, only time will tell.  So in the end, I can’t say the plants didn’t suffer some from this winter, but if I was asked “are Sarracenia hardy?” I’d would emphatically say “YES”.    I was thinking of putting up a sign in my bogs, “we survived the coldest winter since 1978″, but people might think I’m weird LOL assuming of course they don’t already think that because of the plants I grow ;-)

The Crazy

So I mentioned I was out cleaning out the bogs on the weekend.  The temps on Sunday were in the mid 20′s C, mid 70′s F. This morning, it was icing, and by 9:00 it was snowing!  ARE YOU KIDDING ME!  We finally were getting some decent spring weather, and this happened.   Oh it gets worse.  Tonights low -7C, that’s 20 ishF.  Yep, tomorrows high, 2C, 36F. By Thursday, back up to seasonal values of 15-17C, high 50′s and low 60′s.  I’m really hoping that this is the end of winter!  I’m sick of it!

Its funny… I think back to my younger days, and think of all time and money I invested to keep my collection above freezing (in my greenhouse) during the winter for fear of grim reaper visiting.   Now, I’ve my entire collection living outdoors, doing better than ever…  speaking of which… I can’t wait to see how they do this year without the damn trees blocking my sun!!!!

Speaking of which, I met the new neighbor on the weekend and thanked him for taking the trees.  He looked confused!

CJM

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The big reveal! “kinda”

OK… So here we are, March 30th!  As everyone here who reads this knows by now, its been an awful winter here… officially the coldest in more than 20 years according to Environment Canada…  Not only has it been cold… it has been long… the cold settled in earlier than normal… and has been hanging around longer than normal.  Not to mention, its been snowier than normal too! Which, in a way is not a bad thing, when its -23C (-10F) as it has been a few times at night this winter, the thick snow keeps that plants at a comparably warm and comfy 0C (32F).

Anyway not that I’m plugging my birthday, but because today is my birthday, I seem to pay particular attention to what the spring is like every year on this day.  On an “early spring” year, the daffodils are blooming on my Birthday, on an average season, they are about a week away from blooming… this year, they are just sticking out of the ground. No blooming anytime soon… so suffice it say, we are WAY behind!

Speaking of my birthday, this morning I got my birthday gift from good ol’ Mother Nature!  I woke up to 8 cms (4 inches ish) of heavy wet snow!  It can happen in the early spring here (as my mother loves to point out, “It can snow on your birthday you know” – thanks Mom), and this year it did! Granted it got nice and sunny and mild this afternoon, so almost all of it has melted away (I wasn’t planning on shoveling it anyway!), but none the less, it did snow!

Figuring that snow could only mean a cold week ahead, I checked the forecast to see what other gifts I was in for this week.  I was pleasantly surprised, over night its going to turn into real Spring.  The 10 Day forecast has temps between 8-16C this week and no nights below freezing! That kind of forecast can only mean one thing!!!!  It’s time to uncover the bogs…. well, kinda!

Usually when I pull off the pine needles, I remove them in two stages. I remove the bulk of them first but leave some behind… I really don’t think there is any reason why other than it makes me feel better and more secure about my plants welfare! If we get some really cold nights again, that thin layer isn’t really going to do much, but I guess some protection is better than none who knows!  I’m pretty sure though, that by next weekend, I will have cleaned the rest off.

Below are a couple of photos taken a year apart, the second from last March 30th and this first one from today.  A couple things you will notice, it was much nicer last March 30th, bog were cleaned and tidy looking.  The other difference, is that this winter, I left all the leaves attached!  We’ll see what sort of impact that has on their growth this spring… Did I say growth! Ya, looks like the plants are all alive and well!!! I even found a clump of seedlings that I dumped in there last year and they look fine too!  Granted… I won’t know for sure until I start to see leaves and flowers growing… but so far all the plants look green and fresh!

March 2014

 

bog1

March 2013lastyear

CJM

 

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So… you alive?

 

bog

 

This time of year is really difficult… Facebook and various other bloggers are all showing photos of their Sarracenias coming out of dormancy and starting their spring growth.  Me I’m showing photos of snow finally melting away from the bogs, showing nothing but burned leaves! One of the joys of living this far north I suppose!

This year I’m particularly nervous!  It has been the coldest winter around here in over 20 years!  Just took a quick look at February temperature stats, the warmest day was 8C – 47F with an average daily high temp of +1C – 33F.  The coldest night was -23C or -9F with an average low of -8C.  Not that “normal” for these parts. I tried to find the stats for January but weather.com didn’t have them… I can say that January was even worse.  The extremes were pretty much the same I think, but on average it was colder during the day and colder at night!

So now I sit in anticipation.  As I like to say, the glaciers are now retreating! I’ve been preaching the gospel of growing these plants outdoors year round in cold climates for a while now… and this season really put them to the test! It won’t be long now before we get to see how they did!  I’m very confident all is well… but there is still a part of me that wonders!  I planted a large number 1 and 2 year old seedlings out there last year and I’m hoping they’re OK.  I will certainly report any casualties should I find any, large or small.

I’m hoping to get the pine needles off by the end of the month.  Remember, its important to get them off fairly quickly.  Warmer days, and cold nights promote mold and rot.  Its very important to get the needles off so that the plants are open to free flowing air and the moisture isn’t kept in close the plants.

Not too much longer!

CJM

 

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And God Said… Let there be Light!

treeWe’ve lived here in Niagara Falls for 9 years now.  There was only one place on our property where my Sarracenia collection had a chance.  That’s because all around my back yard there are trees… not mine of course, the neighbours.  So no only do the trees block the sun that my plants want… they dump a crap load of leaves in my yard that I have to clean up.  The worst were the neighbours to our south.  Their trees were very tall.

In the early Spring in up to mid Summer, it wasn’t really a huge problem because the sun was high enough in the sky that the trees had no effect, but in August, the sun started to dip behind the tree tops and by September… the sun came up… and 4 or 5 hours later, the light filtered through the trees.  I’m sure I’ve complained about these trees in previous posts somewhere!

Anyway, to my surprise a couple of days ago, I heard chain saws.  I looked out our back window and behold, a daring young man from a local tree cutting services, was high atop the tree cutting down broken branches and the like.  Thinking he was just pruning, I didn’t think much, but low and behold larger branches started falling, 45 minutes later, the entire tree was gone!  I thought that was it.  It was a scraggy tree and had lots of widow makers, so I can  understand why it came down.

Then, they started a second tree, and later a third.  ALL OF THEM!  There are now NO trees blocking my southern exposure… so assuming my plants survived this horrific winter, they should be happy basking in the light!

CJM

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I wonder if there will be any death?

coldOk, for my US friends these are Celsius temperatures, not Fahrenheit, but I don’t care how it converts its still cold! However, for a frame of reference -18C is about 0F. Yep, Niagara is in the midst of another Polar Vortex. This is cool name they giving these giant areas of cold air that whip down from the top of the planet! However, I do look at the bright side, I’m not somewhere in the mid west!

In the days of my greenhouse growing, I used to get all freaked out when the temps dipped down like this, fearing that my heater, that kept my greenhouse just above the freezing mark, would give out and my plants would perish in an icy, polar vortext kinda death! My sleep would be interrupted too, laying awake, getting up and checking the remote thermometer (before those, I’d go outside!).  I remember one fateful night many years ago, the night time temperature was -23C, coldest night of that year, and in the morning I went to check out the plants to find the greenhouse was at a balmy -18C… yep the heat went out!  everything was frozen solid.  To my surprise, I had the best flowering that spring that I’d had in years!  Yep they can take the cold.

So why am writing this post about fearing winter, when I’ve been preaching that outdoor growing is perfectly fine in cold places.  Well, its my friend Justin.  Was just texting back and forth with him, he was asking if I brought my seedings in for the winter… I confidently text back, “No, they’re planted in the bogs!”.  As I typed that, I felt that pang of fear that I used to feel years ago… are they going to die in the cold?

I really don’t think so, I think they’re just fine… however I can’t help but wonder… If I can’t sleep tonight Justin… its YOUR fault!

We’ll have to see what happens in the spring!

CJM

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2013 in review

This was really cool!

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 8,300 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Nice Start to Winter

So the winter solstice was yesterday, and what did we get to mark the occasion? An ice storm.  We got off quite lucky here… only 1cm (1/2 inch) of ice, but places north and east of here dealt with up to 52 hours of freezing rain, producing sheets of ice 5 cm (2 inches thick).  On the news they showed kids in ice skates playing hockey on the street!  Lots of power outages, and downed trees and limbs! Early in the day, I went out and snapped a few pics as the ice started piling up!

Sarraceniasicles!

ice

 

trees

 

CJM

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