Monday, September 25, 2017
Wollemi back buddingEvery Fall the wollemi trees shed a few lower branches. Some shed more than others, and it may be due to the amount of sunlight that reaches the lower branches.
This year has been dryer and hotter than normal. I water regularly, but air temp is a factor, and the trees have shed more branches than usual. The 2 trees by the pond shed the fewest branches.
I moved one tree to a space, more open and sunnier than where it had been, and new branches have emerged from the shed branch scars on the lower trunk. Back budding.
Seeing this, if I want the trees to fill out more, all I may have to do is make sure they get more sun exposure. This is western Oregon, so that could be a challenge...
Friday, September 8, 2017
Wollemi seed ID picsLast year my Wollemi cones matured and burst apart, similar to Atlas cedar. I ended up searching the area for scattered seeds. The cone flakes look similar to Douglas Fir, which surround the Wollemi grove. I looked online to find pictures of the seeds, and was disappointed at the lack of information.
This year I wrapped the cones in fine mesh a couple of weeks ago, just as the cones were starting to turn brown. It worked, I have mesh bags full of cone flakes and seeds.
The seed flake is loosley attached to the cone flake. You can make out the seed at the bottom end of the separated seed flake, about the size of a mustard seed in this small cone. More mature trees will have larger cones, and may have larger seeds.
I took these pics with my ipad, and it looks like I need to find a better camera.
Tuesday, August 30, 2016
Wollemi cone matureAfter waiting for so long, the one cone that is early 2 years old was looking a little dry one morning. We have had a number of very hot days, nearing 100 F. I had purchased some fine mesh bags to cover the cone with, so that when the seeds eerged, they would be caught in the bag. I didn't have time to put the bag on before leaving for work, and put it on the list for the afternoon.
Too late! When I returned home from work, more than half the cone had disintegrated. It must have just happened, as some of the cone bits were still in the branches of some of the plants underneath. Based on the dispersal pattern, it looks like the cone literally exploded. A whole lot of the seeds were up to 12 feet away, stopped only by the backyard fence.
I rescued the last part of the cone still on the branch, and then hunted for as many seeds as I could find. Each seed has a little wing, which falls off very easily. The seeds tend to bury into the soil immediately after the wing falls off.
I'll be looking for sprouts next Spring !
Wednesday, March 9, 2016
New wollemi conesHere is a picture of last year's female cone, not quite mature yet. For some reason, the pics download to Dave's sideways.
Wednesday, March 9, 2016
Just emerging wollemi female coneThere are several new female wollemi cones emerging.
Monday, August 17, 2015
wollemi split terminalsFor so long now I've worked long hours and water at night in the dark. One weekend I looked at the trees in the daylight, and surprise! A couple of the trees have grown 2 crowns or terminal leads. Normally they grow straight up without much diversion. Several hace copicing. About half are over 9 feet tall now. They seem to be thriving, despite still in the original pots.
Friday, May 8, 2015
A Wollemi female cone!Finally! After all these years! One of the biggest of the grove, the one with a bunch of male cones, has a single female cone just forming. Wow. I was hoping it would happen eventually, and now the time has come.
The treees have been forming sporadic male cones for several years now, so this is great!
No excuses I need to get te camera fixed or replaced SOON!
Thursday, January 1, 2015
Wollemi survives sudden temp extremeWow, time flies, it has been a year and a half since my last entry. Good news, the trees are healthy and grow at least a foot a year, 2 grow more like 18". Last winter cam on slowly, and I had warning and time to bring them into protected area when the winter temps were to reach below 20 for more than 3 days. Some were so tall that it was a challenge to get them inside. A year later, they are even taller.
Here in Oregon, part way between the Skyline ridge and the coast range, we have had a mild winter, much warmer than usual - except for one night when the temperatures dropped to 21 degrees from nighttime temps of low 40's. The tree roots had time to harden to the low 40's (daytimes rose to upper 50"s low 60's), but this sudden cold - not just below freezing, but WELL below freezing - was a bit rough. I discovered the temp was to drop that low - the next day, after it had already happened.
Well,the trees weren't even set up with the slightly below freezing set up I do for them. That is clear plastic cover, - and a light bulb, if to hit the 20's. They were completely exposed and as unprepared as I was. Fortunately, the daytime temp before and after this sudden freeze were both above freezing, so the trees endured the extreme for a few hours only.
One suffered frost nip, and a section of fronds show signs of dying off - turning dark steely black first, then dying - unlike the natural die off of lower branches that turn golden, then orange.
The rest seem to be OK for now. Lots of male cones again this year. Last Fall I was outside gardening on a hot sunny day, and realized the male cones were about to expel their pollen. I managed to capture quite a bit,just in time.
About a third of the trees shed more than usual lower branches, and I suspect they need more sun, as they were ones in the middle of the pack.
I have saved the dead branch fronds, if anyone is interested in purchasing samples for classroom, or collections or something.
Monday, June 17, 2013
wollemia seem to like OregonAfter pampering the trees for a time, and taking copious notes and observations, the trees have settled into their space, and adjusted to the weather and general conditions I adjusted accordingly.
The individual trees I ended up with seem to like partial shade, cool summer conditions, and well hydrated without being soaked.
They do not like sitting in stagnant water. I noticed one with a large number of lower branches turning yellow, and found that the drain hole had become clogged, it sitting in stinky stagnant water. I ended up doing a mid summer emergency repotting effort, providing it with fresh soil. The tree survived, and is doing fine. It lost the lower branches that had started to turn yellow, but no additional branches were lost. This year is has new growth, and appears to be a trooper.
The trees, overall have good color, new active growth, with new cones developing, and appear to be happy with their location and conditions. My dedication to observing their condition is not as much effort anymore, in fact, they get about as much attention these days as any other plant in the garden. Happy trees.
It makes sense that they might do well in Oregon. They come from a dark canyon that doesn't get sun, damp and dark most of the time, just like here...
Thursday, April 18, 2013
Wollemia PollenI checked the male cones of the wollemia pines today, and from one of the trees a small yellow cloud of pollen escaped from the cone when the branch was touched.
I grabbed a bag and collected as much as I could shake out for today. It is a beautiful golden yellow pollen, very fine. I took a short video of the escaping pollen cloud, and a few close up still shots of how the pollen cone opens up. The other tree's cones are not ready yet, and have not opened.
This year's cones are about 4 times larger than last years cones.
Friday, March 22, 2013
Wollemia water requirementsIt has been several months since I logged on. Work has a way of taking over a person's life. Take on club duties, and everything else goes unattended. Except my precious Wollemia nobilis trees. Several more developed cones last fall. So far the cones are fattening up. We have had ups and downs with the weather, cooling, then warming, then reverting back to winter again.
The trees were put in the greenhouse late (late October) due to warm temps, and then out early (February) due to warm temperatures. This last winter never saw much below freezing. Now the temps have dropped again.
The greenhouse can get very dry, so watching the soil moisture has been the biggest concern. The trees seem to do well in the Northwest - cold dark and wet... Wet, being very important, apparently, because the trees cannot tolerate drought, nor swampy stale water conditions.
Any arboretum maintaining these trees might want to note that the roots need to stay moist, and that the the trees can tolerate some pretty high temperatures, as long as they continue to have enough moisture for the root system.
Spring started yesterday. Fertilizer starts tomorrow. 6-1-6, or keeping the center number as low as possible due to intolerance.
Sunday, September 16, 2012
Wollemi waterloggedOK. I have been working unimaginable hours, and as a result, water my plants at night, (in the dark), or early AM (in the dark), and as a result, I did not see what was going on with the trees.
Maintenance in the blind......
Well, I have 3 days off and the first thing to do was look into the tree's status. As a result, I see one that is severely yellow for the entire lower half of the tree. !! Others are suffering drought.
It is the one tree that has the most potential for propagation. There are several coppiced starts at the base, and several upward branch starts that are potential new trees.
This is the wrong time of year for transplanting, but I feel, that is what is required for this tree. It was removed from the stagnant bath and allowed to dry out for several hours, while feeding the "jurassic food", and a green-up formula that includes rooting hormones and stress elements. Then it was sprayed with a moisture barrier loss treatment, and now it is "Hope for the best".
The yellowing was quick, and happened very fast. The tree is not dead yet, at this point, just lost a lot of branches.....
The upper third of the tree appears to be fine today. - But there is no way for me to tell if the drowning effect has future devastation.
I separated one of the coppice starts that was loosing branches. New tree , if it survives the separation.
Saturday, August 25, 2012
Wollemi branch anomoliesWell, wollemi branches do a very unusual thing with their color and method of detachment.
If a branch is cut off from the vascular system, either by drought or by natural shedding of lower branches, the branches loose color slowly and the color disappears slowly with the needles color changing from green to yellow in predictable progression.
But when a branch is detached before the vascular system has abandoned it - then the branch turns a blue green long before it turns brown over time. Even then, the color is always different.
Taking pictures of cone from emergence to formation coming up...
Several trees are coning this year!
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Wollemia cones grow fastTwo more trees have prodced cones this year. Interestingly, I did not notice any cone growth last week, but my attention was more on keeping the trees watered during the 100 degree weather. The cones are still small, of course, and I hope to keep better track of photographing them as they mature. One tree has 7 male cones and what appears to be a female cone. The other has 3 male cones. The one with 8 cones has several on this years growth and a couple formed on last years branches. The cones form at the tip end of the branches.
Thursday, August 16, 2012
Spring and Summer for wollemiaIt has been a long time since my last entry. Maybe it is fortunate that I have been so busy, but also suffered a lot of down time recovery from a severe set of injuries. On the mend, but it has slowed me down quite a lot.
I've made some interesting discoveries this summer and during the handful of heat waves we have had in the northwest this past week. Yes, we have been cool and comfortable while the rest of the nation bakes. Due to my injuries, I have been unable to move the trees around very much, and rotate them for best overall exposure to the sun, shady as it might be...
The one in the shadiest spot has hardly grown 6 inches, and is not looking quite a full and nice as the others, but the ones in moderate sun have grown almost 2 feet in height. Most are full and deep green, with great looking foliage, but a couple have curled needles. The needles look fine and healthy, just growing in uneven directions.
During the time that I was barely able to water the trees, at least 2 had a "water shadow", a pie shaped area where the watering didn't cover the entire surface of the soil. Interestingly, branches immediately above the "pie" area started to die off in direct vertical lines above the shadows. It appears this indicates the very direct course of vascular system from the roots to the limbs, without much diversion into adjacent vascular structure, resulting in very little bleed over.
So there has been a bit of lower branch die off in a couple of plants, the same ones that lost a couple of branches last year. Overall the trees all look great. I still need to repot them, but that will take time.
I was unable to place any sort of cover over the most exposed trees during our one or two 100 degree days, but the trees seem to be well adapted now, and are free of sunburn or other maladies the extra heat and sunlight might cause.
We are expecting a few days in a row of upper 90's to 100 degree days. So far, a watering system of really good drenching late in the afternoon or even late evening, with a fresh bit of water in the early morning, seems to help the trees hydrate well during the cool nights (upper 40's to mid 50's) and gives them enough water in the AM to endure the extreme heat and sun throughout the day.
Keeping them well watered seems to be among the most important factors to their survival in extreme conditions. Most of the trees are in shade to partial shade, but a couple are in near full sun midday. The ones in the most sun grew about 8-10 inches, and the ones in partial, but not full, shade have grown the most, with one growing almost 2 feet this year, and with too much shade, aslo little growth.
Thursday, June 21, 2012
Wollemi seasonsOne of the adjustments the wollemia pines needed to endure, was the out-of-season change from a southern hemisphere Spring to a northern hemisphere Spring. During transport, they actually miss a half year cycle of seasons. This can throw them off a bit.
I have some seedling metasequoia starts, that loose their needles during winter. Because I acquired them during the late fall, I kept them indoors through out the winter, and they retained their needles. But in Spring, when I moved them to the outside, instead of sprouting new needles, they went into winter mode and lost all the existing needles for quite a while. It appears that they needed the winter shedding phase in order to re-sprout new growth in the Spring - which now turns out to be Summer. They missed a full season of dormancy and had to make up for time. I thought I had killed them, but they are beginning to sprout new growth after the shedding period.
Now, one might think that this hemisphere seasonal thing shouldn't be an issue, but the seasons are reversed from south to north - so that Summer in the southern hemisphere is their coldest and wettest time of year, and the alternative- Winter is their hottest driest time of year. Just the opposite of the north.
So, when doing any process with the tree - fertilizing, trimming, repotting, propagating: when the southern hemisphere calendar and research indicates it is done in Winter, that would be the hottest driest time of year in the north, and visa versa.
Sunday, June 10, 2012
Wollemi and our Spring weatherThis is yet another year of night temps in the mid to low forties, with days barely reaching 60, if that. It hasn't stopped the Wollemi from sprouting green branch tips and continuing to grow.
It is JUNE for Pete's sake... Oops, just got chocolate all over the keyboard...
I have been working long hours, so haven't had much time to spend with them, and I wanted to take some time-lapse photos of the branch ends sprouting. They may be all sprouted out by the time I get enough time to set up the cameras. But will try to squeeze it in anyway. The cold weather has delayed the growth all around, so there say still be time.
Monday, May 28, 2012
Wollemi progressIn just the last few days, the once dormant trees have started to push the fresh lime green foliage from their peaks and branch tips. As to be expected, the most shaded trees are the slowest to start their Spring growth. The male cones have curled and I wrapped them in an envelope in an attempt to capture some of the pollen. The tree with the cones has the best sun/shade exposure mix of the grove, and the limited space available for it.
No female cones this year, and I am hoping that they will start to form soon. Like in the next couple of years. If the Wollemi Pine have seed similar to several of the other Auracaria and Agathis species, the seeds need to be fresh in order to germinate, losing viability fairly quickly, so that almost no germination occurs after the seed is a year old.
If the pollen follows the same viability pattern, then it will not be viable next year if the female cones form. Oh well, nothing like experimentation to find out answers....
Thursday, May 10, 2012
weather in the wollemi groveThe grove seems to be fine despite just having the hottest day of the year, followed by frost warnings or 2 nights in a row. From hot to cold and then we are expected to be hot again by Sunday. Weather like a roller coaster, yet the plants just carry on as best they can.
Sunday, April 29, 2012
Wollemi Pine cone changeThe weather has fluctuated from cloudy to sunny on and off again over the last few days. One thing has stayed consistent- the temperatures are above 44 F at night, and about 60 and above during the day. The Wollemi Pine cones have reacted quickly, and changed from green to brown within a few days. I suspect that these cones are too immature or undeveloped to produce viable pollen or seed this year. The fact that cones may be coming among all the trees is encouraging, but these first ones neither look big enough, not developed enough to amount to much yet.
One has begun to curve, although I am not sure what that means.
Time will tell.
Sunday, April 15, 2012
Wollemi Pines color differenceIt is hard to believe it has been a week since my last entry for Wollemi Pines. The sun comes out for a couple of days, and all else is forgotten for the dive into Spring gardening chores.
So the Wollemi have been getting more sun due to longer hours of daylight and that the greenhouse canopy has been pulled back, allowing direct sunlight onto the trees. Most of the days since the opening of the greenhouse have been gray and rainy, but the transition is good for the trees, a gradual adjustment to the upcoming Summer sunny-hot onslaught.
Even so, some are a little pale, and more of a yellow cast that the blue green the others are returning to. Perhaps they are slower on the uptake, or more protected from the sun than the others. Or perhaps a nice dose of fertilizer is in order. The Wollemia trees in question are still in the non-soil medium in which they were imported. Last year I fertilized with a weak fertilizer solution specifically designed for the Wollemi Pines, about once a month, to maintain the Wollemi Pine's health. I do not know how nutrient the non-soil is, but it must be adequate if the trees lived and thrived in it for the 5 year quarantine period.
Note the photo attached. As you can see, the difference is subtle, and by "yellow green" I mean only by comparitive difference to the blue green, and not the kind of yellowing that indicates severe stress just before the branch dies.. Maybe "grass green" would a better description.
Saturday, April 7, 2012
Wollemi Pines get some sunAfter a very long spell of rain upon rain upon snow upon rain, we finally get a couple of days of sun. Mind you, so far I count about 6 days altogether since January. The Wollemi Pines are darkening up pretty quickly.
It will be interesting to see how this years branch clusters come out. When the trees first arrived, they had small nodules on the end of each branch, and that is where the new leaves were stored. As the weather warmed, and sunshine hours increased, the leaves started expanding out of the nodule, and continued to form additional leaves throughout the Summer. This year, there are very few end capsules, with the branches simply ending in the last leaf.
Last year they also all had a polar cap at the terminal lead, which is where the new branches emerged. This year only one has a polar cap, and the others look a lot like they did last Fall, with just a little increased growth in each branch length.
Monday, April 2, 2012
Wollemi flexibilitySo here's an interesting tidbit about the Wollemi Pine: one of the pines ended up falling over a bit and rested against a wooden pole in the greenhouse over the winter. Several branches were laid flat against the trunk as a result. Sort of squooshed at an odd angle. When I extricated the trees from greenhouse confinement, they all had a lot more room to spread out. The squished branches, having been in the odd angle for about 5 months, expanded and restored to a regular, normal look within 12 hours.
Talk about elasticity !....
So will the Wollemi Pine be a good candidate for bonsai? Well, as far as being able to live in a confined pot for long term? So far, I believe so. Their confined environment in their native habitat, in a canyon of rock crevices means that they are genetically adjusted to confined roots. But can one be trained like bonsai? maybe not. The ability to return to a position held months before, means that it would have to be wired for life...
Sunday, April 1, 2012
Wollemi cone growthThe Wollemi Pines seem to relish our Northwest Spring weather. I brought the trees out of the green house when the nigh time temps remained at or above freezing. Still, we had snow, but it was barely freezing and didn't stick but a day.
The total rainfall for March reached 7.75 inches, breaking several records, for individual days and for the month. It is still raining today, Sunday April 1, and expected to rain for some time.
After the trees were brought out of the greenhouse, it only took a few days for their color to darken up. They were starting to look a little pale. Two things happened - both resulted in more sunlight, even though our days have been grey with clouds. The greenhouse cover is no longer reducing sunlight, and the daylight hours are increasing due to earth's axis rotation, as of the first day of Spring.
I put a ruler up to the largest cone for a photo. The cone is considerably larger than the last photograph...
Thursday, March 29, 2012
wollemi - all I can sayAll I can say is - so much rain.... unbelievable. Seriously... broke records that go back to the 18180's.
And it is not expected to stop anytime soon...
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Wollemi cones growing largeTime to get out the rulers and measure the cone's progress. One is getting very big rapidly. (I see my photo of it from last Fall on the Plant Files thumbnail for the Wollemia nobilis...)
One is starting to look differently from the other two, so hopefully, I have male and female cones.
Sunday, March 25, 2012
Wollemi wilt avertedI checked on the Wollemia trees early this morning, and the 2 wilted ones appear to have fully recovered. Whew! close one.
Time will tell if the bottom branches of the wollemia turn brown within the next few months, but so far, they have restored turgor, which is a good indication that the circulation was not impeded to the point of cell function destruction, and moving water back into the branches.
The leaves in general have stiffened up as well, and the trees look back to normal.
Last night's temps dropped to around 40 degrees, warmer than the last few days, but the trees are now outside the greenhouse in the open air. The greenhouse gave them a cocoon of sorts, and the still air inside, warmed by the compost floor, is slightly different atmosphere than their winter experience so far. Yesterday was partly cloudy, and today is a fully grey day, so there is no need for adjusting for sun exposure.
Saturday, March 24, 2012
Warm againWell, sort of. ...
It is expected to be more like our usual Spring weather for the rest of this week and into next. The snow is usually ancient history by this time of year. So far, the Wollemi trees consistently get very dry during the cold snaps. This seems a strange phenomenon, but so far, if the temperatures get below the 32 F mark, I need to pay extra attention to their water needs. They dry out quicker during the cold.
Yesterday I opened up the green house a little more that I had last time. I had just watered the trees twice before the snows and low temps hit for the week. I opened up the sides, and noticed immediately that two trees branches drooping noticeably. They were very dry, and warm to the touch at the surface of the soil. My heart sank, and I acted immediately to get some water to them. LIfting the trees out of their pots, (that's how dry they were) I felt the soil at the bottom, which felt dry but was still coolish to the touch. As I mentioned earlier, as conifers, they stay green, and appear normal, for a long time after they die, and that is what makes Holiday Christmas trees so appealing.
In the case of the Wollemi Pines, wilt starts to show as drooping branches. Act quickly and the branches spring back up, just as other soft leaved plants do. Wait too long and the lower branches show their death later rather than sooner, within the next few months. Only time will tell if I rescued these two trees soon enough. The green color may be further extended by the cool weather - like lettuce in the refrigerator...
WIthin a few hours, the branches restored their turgor and began to look like they did before the drooping. One had droop all the way up to the peak, and I am very concerned. Interestingly, it was only the ones near the outside perimeter of the greenhouse (nearest the coldest walls) that suffered drought. It will be fascinating to study - if the tree has some sort of anomaly where it needs more water in the foliage during the colder temperatures, that the cold somehow saps the tree and it demands more water, or if the cold simply dries the entire area more due to freeze evaporation.
Since I have several trees to compare, some of these observations may be more obvious than if I had only one or two trees. WIth one one or two trees, the drought observation is independent, and could be caused by several factors, such as, thirsty trees in general. But with several trees in slightly different environments (center of the green house, as opposed to the colder sides) perhaps more information can be gleaned.
The green house has a dome ceiling, so condensation drip occurs all across the ceiling to the sides. Internal rain, as it were. There is also a drip line hose for thorough watering. There is a cold side wall and a protected wall, and both ends, sort of like a Quonset hut. Condensation drip happens all across the ceiling including just above both side walls, so condensation within the greenhouse, or the lack of it, does not explain why the colder wall trees dry out quicker that the others. Yes, the colder side may experience less condensation in general. Or the trees just demand more moisture during the colder times. I can set up some study sites and make better conclusions.
Eventually, this information may enable people (and arboretums) with individual trees understand the demands of owning this exotic and finicky species, and help keep them alive when conditions are not optimal. The Wollemia seems hardy enough, if one looks out a few quirks... quirks that if not attended to in a timely manner, can get to the point of no return, and result in the loss of the tree.
In the photo, note the steep angle of the lower branches, indicating wilt.
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Wollemi Pine winter re-setMost of the Wollemi Pine didn't develop deep winter hibernation, as I mentioned before, and even the branch ends started erupting for the new season, when here we are in the middle of winter again.
Temps and conditions are like January, February. Mt Hood had some 35 inches of snow in 24 hours. Snow fell hard on Eugene and the Cascades, all the way north to the Portland area. Tonight the snow is accumulating rapidly on the ground, and we already have several inches layered onto the ground and trees.
The green house was open on either end to avoid overheating during that brief faux Spring a few days ago. I've closed it back up. The temperatures are not expected to drop too much below freezing, so I am not going to be adding any heat, through light bulbs or soil heating cable. Just a little protection from the ice.
Monday, March 19, 2012
End of winter for Wollemi PinesWow, last day of winter, first day of Spring as of about a quarter after ten tonight. The weather here has been more like February, whereas February was more like March. Go figure....
Several of the trees have multiple terminal leads, which resulted from the shipping damage. The terminal leads are the consistency of asparagus, and snap right off if bumped or bent during handling. However, leads grow back, and sometimes several. One lead takes over, and eventually looks like the rest of the trunk, slowly sculpting into a smooth transition, where one can hardly tell there was an interruption. Other leads may or my not grow into orthotropic branches, which look like little tree tops.
Saturday, March 17, 2012
wollemi sensitivitiesOK. Here is the first of many, I'm sure. The Wollemi Pine have survived, albeit, just barely, over an unmentionable amount of time in the plant world... They are very good at surviving the conditions that they love. Obviously.
Here's the deal... They are very sensitive about when it is OK to make more Wollemi ....
Their needs are primitive. Very, very, primitive. I tried, last year, to propagate the straggling detritus left behind by shipping damage, of lost peaks and limbs. All failed. Given that there is no telling how long the broken bits of the trees had been disconnected from their origins, it was not really that big of a surprise...
This year, with permission documents in hand, I attempt, once again, with fervor, and an incredible amount of new research, experience, and knowledge from a wide variety of fields, to give it another attempt. (oh really, those broken bits were a long shot, even for the most hardy of propagation possibles, like willow, for Pete's sake...)
Wish me luck. We are about to make more Wollemia nobilis for the US. You have no idea to the extremes of preparation I have gone to....
I have fresh and willing subjects. From both cuttings to cones. They tell me, they want to survive a whole lot longer in all the world, and that they are very happy here in the Northwest...
What? You don't talk to your plants? They don't talk back?
Seriously.... Those that get into the zen of listening to their plant's body language and physical needs, are the Green Thumbs of the this world.... The signs are subtle.... All you need to know is what to listen for, and then listen...
Friday, March 16, 2012
Windy Wollemi PinesThe last four days have been extremely wind and wet. Mt Hebo had nearly 5 inches of rain yesterday, and most other local places received about 2 inches. Well, except for downtown Portland, I heard they ad less than an inch. Perhaps the buildings and heat form traffic and the streets create a separate microclimate.
I was going to take the Wollemi Pines out of the green house a couple of weeks ago, when the weather changed back to winter from a balmy false Spring, just like last year and the year before. I looked at Dave's frost chart, and decided to wait. Good thing. The wollemia do not like a lot of wind, it sort of rips them apart. They are flexible and bend easily, but their tender leaves are no match for whirling gusty winds. The base of the branches is not particularly strong, so it is fairly easy to knock a branch off.
The Wollemi Pines' Summer location is fairly protected from any extreme winds, sort of in an alcove, but it is not set up for their return from the greenhouse yet.
One end of the green house is open to allow more air circulation, as the house has been heating up quite a bit during the daylight. With the nighttime temps still just above freezing, the open end greenhouse allows a more gradual change from day to night temperatures.
If they stay a bit cooler than the full on greenhouse, maybe I can have more time to do the cuttings before the big Spring growth spurt begins.
I'll try to add some pictures soon.... between the snow and wind, not many opportunities for new photos without getting drenched...
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Snow on the Wollemi PinesThe Wollemi Pines look ready for Spring. Their color is starting to darken already. The Spring shoots are starting to extend. Snow today, came down midday, and although light, it stuck for a while on the ground. Light, but long lasting... One side of the greenhouse was opened when the weather was warmer a little over a week ago. That was never closed back up, but since the temps are now reaching the low 40's and the ever-so-occassional barely freezing of 32, the trees seem unfazed.
The Wollemi Pines are cold conditioned for sure by now, and still protected from the wind. The storm, over the last few days, has been windy to the extreme, and the greenhouse protects the Wollemi Pine from the worst drafts. The greenhouse is open on one end, so gusts are reduced within the greenhouse, quite a bit of protection from ripping winds and the airborne debris.
Perhaps the Wollemi can survive in Oregon without a lot of pampering, with the right conditions - of protection from extremes, and the right attention to watering during the dry months.
Monday, March 12, 2012
Weather on the Wollemi groveSnowing at the coast, headed toward us, and expected to hit the valley floor. It is March 12th! and we are getting snow. All day has been super gusty wind, and horizontal rain coming down in buckets....
I started to take the Wollemi Pine trees out of the green house a few days ago. Oh well, back in they go!
Very busy lately, and I have been acquiring all the things I need ot start propagating, so the blog may be a little dull until the I start posting the propagation.
Thursday, March 8, 2012
Wollemi pine updateThe weather is warming so quickly again, so the growth tips are starting to get active again. However, temps are predicted to drop a little again before long. So confusing for all the plants. At least, as the months progress, the chance of frost decreases each day.
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Wollemi get dry during the coldest timesThe Wollemi Pines get very dry during the coldest times. It seem counter to what one would think would happen, but there it is. Apparently the cold air is dryer, and the soil doesn't retain as much moisture, but the colder it is, the more I have to pay attention to the soil humidity.
It has been below freezing for several days, after a warm spell, and now it it supposed to hit well over 60 degrees again for a while. It was 64 today. The trees were dryer than I like, I gave them a good drink as soon as I discovered they had dried sooner than usual.
It is expected to be cold again tonight, so checking the soil is put back high up on the list of things to check on.
Monday, March 5, 2012
Wollemi Pine Winter color changeThe Wollemi have done well their first winter here so far. The still look healthy and in good shape. No loss of branching, and a couple of them have even grown a little during the winter. Their color has turned to more of a grass green, than the blue green of summer, which may be due to the greenhouse cover filtering some light waves, or that there is just not as much light during the winter, over all. Their polar caps did not get very big, and some of them never developed polar caps.
I poured rain like a waterfall today, and the temperature dropped bit again, so I'll try to get out and get some pictures in the next few days.
Saturday, March 3, 2012
Wollemi Pine Winter to SpringThe days are warming again, and quickly this time, it may reach 60 degrees by tomorrow. From one extreme to to the other. As I understand it, this is the best time of year to attempt to propagate the Wollemi cuttings, as the Spring stock is primed for growth, and may have the best chance of taking root.
The cones that started to form last fall will take a long time to mature, so attempting to get some starts from cuttings might be a little quicker. Research tells me even rooting cuttings is not very quick....
Pic of a healthy Wollemi Pine
Friday, March 2, 2012
Wollemi Pine more trunk variationsIt snowed again yesterday. The daffodils and crocus are up, and covered with snow.
They expect the temps to warm to 60 degrees within the next couple of days. No wonder the plants are confused.
This next photo of the Wollemia nobilis trunk transition is one of my favorites because it shows details that are so different from other pines. The long sharp spines are left over from the polar cap. The spikes enclose the cap while the tree is dormant. When the terminal leader opens up in the Spring, the bright green trunk extends and the branches enlarge. On this tree the protective spikes are very long and exaggerated, and stayed on the trunk for quite a while. They eventually disappear as the tree ages, and the bark expands.
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Wollemi February Fake-outFor the third year in a row, the winter seems on the way out, with warming days and nights, above the usual winter icey temperatures. Late January through most of February we have had balmy times of 50 to 60 degree days and mid forties during hte night. Many flowering trees have young flower buds getting ready to open.
And then winter comes back. The day time temperatures switch to the 40's if they get above freezing at all, and the nights, well get out the ice scrapers and put the snow tires back on, because winter is back. This weather pattern is happening more and more often, more years in a row now than I can remember.
The trees get confused, lose the leaf buds and flower buds to frost and snow, and go back into dormancy. The period of time until the next warm period will not be enough to form more flower buds. So the bees get a double whammy, dealing with plagues of mites and lack of blooms as the weather warms.
The next Wollemi Pine photograph is at the base of the the new growth of the terminal lead, and shows a ring of branches encircling the trunk, and shows how the scaling on the trunk starts out in a long narrow form. The scale pattern changes to a broad blunt form hight on the trunk. It appears the trunk continues to grow upward, with the ring of branches spreading along the trunk, and appear less like a ring encircling one place.
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Wollemia transition trunkWollemi Pine ( Wollemia nobilis) have distinct margins where the new and old growth boundaries merge. Note the tan older growth and the bright green newer growth. On this tree, this years branches encircle the trunk at about the same circumference line. As the tree ages, this growth ring is less and less distinct as some of the branches thrive and others don't.
Monday, February 20, 2012
Wollemi Pine trunk variationsThe trunk of the Wollemi Pine goes through a number of changes as it ages, and there are a number of varieties of texture and scaling displayed in the new growth areas of the trunk. I'll be showing a few photographs over the next few days.
Eventually, as the trunk ages into hardened bark, it takes on a look of cocoa puffs, or cocoa crispies, a lumpy, bubbly looking coating.
Last entry is one of the examples of the newer area of the terminal lead.
Here is another example.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Wollemi Pine adaptingA lot of evergreen plants go through color change in winter. The color change for Wollemi PIne has been recorded in other independent reports.
Can the Wollemi Pine adapt to other climates - a complicated answer for what is actually a complicated question, although it seems simple at first. The catch is - what is "adapt"... Because the trees were genetically "adapted" to an unknown environment. An environment that existed literally millions of years ago, and the trees managed to survive to the present environment, so genetically they may have a lot more going for them that what their present circumstance offers. Or a lot less... So far, various botanical gardens and individual trees owners have reported trees surviving conditions far outside what the original Wollemi Park canyon offers.
Well, not completely unknown. Keep in mind that the Jurassic atmosphere itself was far different that what we live in today. There was a lot more carbon dioxide, and less oxygen, for instance. Oh wait - maybe the present day pollution is actually helping! We, as humans, would find the Jurassic atmosphere heavy, (atmospheric pressure was greater) and difficult to breath, (fewer oxygen atoms by percentage).
So surviving other environments at this point is not really adapting, by genetic modification, but relying on the ancient chromosomes the trees already have. Chromosomes that haven't had the need to be expressed in their present wild environment. All plants adapted over time, and that is why we have new plants in the evolutionary tree. Usually the adaptations visibly change the plant itself - like hybridized flower colors, for instance.
Much of the time, genetic changes happen very slowly, over time frames that far outlive our short lives. Whatever survives the elements, lives to breed again. So can they adapt? They already did. But now the newly adapted trees look like other, different, trees, and became the next generation of pines....
Can they adapt to changes in localized climates or quick changes, such as being shipped across a continent. They seem to be fairly tolerant of such changes, especially if the temperature change can be graduated at the receiving end. Most Spring temps in the US are fairly temperate from East to West, but Winter and Summer temperatures a can be extreme sometimes. For instance - shipping a tree from balmy California in January, to sub zero temperatures in North Dakota, the Wollemi Pine will likely need to be kept indoors at it's destination for a while.
Like a lot of plants, the Wollemi Pine undergoes "root hardening" for winter, and once hardened for the season, can survive through winter's cold temperatures to a point. Temperatures below 18 F is not recommended. Root insulation and protection from the wind may add a few degrees adapted to their cold tolerance, and only time will tell, just how much the are able to take, once people who own trees report in.
OK, Wollemi Pines survived several ice ages. However, continental drift puts them in more temperate places on the planet than the ice covered North. And even though geologically it was technical an ice age here and there, throughout the 200 plus million years the Wollemi Pine survived, the Blue Mountains, and most of Australia, was outside of serious glaciation zones through most of them.
So can the Wollemi Pine adapt? That depends on what one is referring: From the shady spot on the deck to the the sunny spot on the other side? or from the forest to the desert....?
I feel most of the extreme climate adaptations will depend on what the plant can genetically tolerate as an individual tree, and how it it acclimatized to it's new environment. It can't change it's spots, so to speak... As long as it is still within what the genetics can handle, yes. We just need to figure out what those tolerances are, and under what conditions.
Monday, February 13, 2012
Wolemi Pine adjustingSnow in the forecast. Our unseasonably warm weather is about to revert back to winter.
Sunday, February 12, 2012
Watching for Wollemi wiltToday's Wollemi Pine notes are about how to detect when the tree is starting to show signs that is it too dry, and needs watering soon. This more of an opportunistic photo, because I saw this going on with one trees this morning. This gives me a an opportunity to photograph what I am seeing, and based on past notes, possibly help Wollemi Pine tree owners keep their own trees alive and healthy, if they can note what to look for before the tree reaches the point of no return.
The soil still felt a little cool, but not as cool as the other trees. The top of the soil starting to indicate drying, a lightly lighter color and texture than the others. All the trees are in similar soil from the same lot of mix, so comparison is simple.
The branch has not begun to droop yet, so there is still a fair amount of water at the top of the tree.
I know, the difference is very subtle, but the trees usually don't get dry enough to show more wrinkled texture. By that time, branch droop has begun, and the tree needs to have water soon.
Note the next entry for the comparison photograph.
Sunday, February 12, 2012
Wollemi Pine first stages of wiltThe following Wollemi photograph is intended for comparison to branch wilt symptoms noted in the entry just prior to this one. This is from one of the other trees, and taken moments after the photo of the Wollemi tree branch that is just starting to show symptoms of wilt.
This is also an upper branch, this season, young, and near the top of the tree.
This tree's soil was dark, and with nice, even, saturation of water that is noticeable by the cool-to-the-touch temperature. The soil is not drenched, just moist. It looks like I need to invest in a soil humidity gauge to get more precise data.
This photograph shows the branch is not wrinkled, the cells are fat and full of water, in full turgor.
Also note how the very young branch leaves spiral out evenly from each other. As the branch ages, the leaves rotate into a nearly flat plane, with leaves protruding from two opposite sides.
Friday, February 10, 2012
Wollemi and mild winterThe Wollemi Pines have become a little pale at this latitude, in a shady place, under plastic sheeting greenhouse, so most of the light they are getting is not much. They have good turgor, and look great overall, but are not the bright blue green that they are in the middle of Summer.
Monday, February 6, 2012
Wollemi Pines not for everyoneI read the comment page of the Wollemi Pine on Dave's plant files and noticed not everyone is happy with this tree. Well, here's how I see it...
Some people can keep orchids, some keep cycads, some keep ferns, african violets, etc. The Wollemi Pine managed to survive in deep canyons of crevices and very little soil. Moderate average temperatures for most years - over hundreds of millions of years. The Wollemi Pine had a much greater range in the world, for millennia, and then, for some reason, disappeared over most of it, and ended up with a few rogue survivors.
For this reason, anyone attempting to keep this tree outside it's comfort range is going to experience the same failure as so many that try to keep african violets, without understanding their basic needs. I f one does not meet the basic needs of exotic plants, they die.
It has been discovered that the comfort range is quite broad, but unless extra care is administered during periods outside that range, the trees stress, suffer, and may expire. A little attention goes a long way. If one lives in marginal conditions for this tree, don't treat it like something one buys at the grocery checkout. Treat it like the exotic that it is, and it just may survive. It lives well in containers, and can be moved in and out of certain elements to meet ideal conditions.
This tree has very, very, soft foliage. It could have been in existence before serious herbivores, and not predated in it's genetic youth. Trimming terminal leaders, and branches, by browsers results in many, many new upright branches. Pines that evolved after the Wollemi Pine - like Monkey Puzzle and Norfolk Island, have developed serious sharp thorny leaves as a defense. LIve and learn, and live again... The Wollemi, known through fossil records as Agathis Jurassica, have very soft, vulnerable foliage.
Their vascular system and roots are primitive at best. They lived in vast swamps, or near swamps, as the land masses rose from the sea. Plants in general have come a very, very long way. These are among the first plants to exist on earth - ever. Cut them some archaic slack, and they may be very nice plants to own. Sort of like a hobby, like bonsai or orchid keeping....
Sunday, February 5, 2012
Wollemi Pine and first importsI've read a lot of stories about the first National Geographic imports of the Wollemi Pines as being heavily pruned, and missing the top of the trees. Some people thought that this might be some sort of pruning attempt to make the trees look better, or give it fuller growth. My guess is that the very early trees were also used to propagate more trees, and that the pruned branches and crowns may have been intentionally cut to help with the propagation efforts. In the beginning, there was a huge demand and not a lot of nursery stock to meet that demand.
Another thought is that the tips may have broken off during transport. Australia to the US is a long way, and even air freight could result in some damage. My first trees arrived with sound terminals, but the next shipment was fragile, and many branch tips and terminal leaders were broken off. It didn't take much time before the broken bit of foliage shriveled up, changed appearance, and disappeared. The same may have happened to that initial shipment.
It appears that during the early growth spurt, the trees are more fragile than other times of the year, and shipment during that time may result in damages.
The trees that had suffered broken tips recovered well. The terminal leaders re grow from a new side shoot, and if the broken spot is marginal enough, the damage can barely be seen within a matter of months, as the trunk sculpts back to the upright form. Some split to create 2 terminal leaders, but all the side orthotropic side branches have terminal leaders of their own.
Yes, that is a bug on the top of the snow cap - more on Agathis sap and ancient amber later....
Saturday, February 4, 2012
Wollemia nobilis Pine and conesWollemia nobilis, the Wollemi Pine, is ancient in both it's vascular system and it's reproduction. It is an early gymnosperm, and bears cones, as well as reproduces vegetatively. According to reports I've read so far, the cones start to form in the Fall, and if mature by Spring, fertilize, and then it takes 18 months for the seed to mature enough for germination. If this is true, then seeds take a 2 year epic to form.
The Wollemi Pine bear both male and female cones on the same tree. So if one owns one tree, there is still a possibility of producing fertilized seeds. Genetically, the wild population appear to be clones, in that there is no variation in the DNA from one tree to the next. Either the DNA sequence is extremely stable - like a shark, which is also an ancient life form that hasn't changed in millions of years, - or, all the current trees living in the wild are the progeny of a very few surviving ancestors, which have reproduced in the canyon to the present population of less than 100 adults.
It has been reported that the wild seed may only have a 10% viability rate, but a much higher rate can be achieved under controlled conditions of the nursery, where all the seed are provided maximum optimum conditions. This could be another reason there is so little genetic variation.
It will interesting to see if the DNA from trees worldwide start to show genetic variations over time.
Here is a picture of a male cone. My trees began to form cones in the Fall, so there is hope for the future, even if it is still along way off...
Friday, February 3, 2012
Wollemi and the windWollemi Pine are not exposed to much wind in the steep canyons of the Blue Mountains where they were found. Today we are experiencing a stiff cold east wind in Oregon. It has been so warm and nice that part of the green house was opened up to allow more light onto the trees for a few days. They were closed up again last night as the temperatures expected to drop to freezing. So with this stiff wind, the greenhouse stays closed for now.
The wind clears the sky of clouds, and star gazing was good.
It has been so warm that more than daffodil bulbs have been sprouting. Also the canna, that usually don't come out for a couple of months, are showing above ground. The leaf buds on bare branches are starting to swell. There have been a couple of years in a row now, where the weather warmed up for a while, as if an early Spring, and then the cold returned and damaged a lot of new growth and fruit flowers. Hopefully it won't happen again this year.
This pic is from last Spring. The leaves turn dark as they age. A growth bud starts to form at the end of the branch during winter, and the new, apple green leaves burst out as the weather warms. The leaves are very soft and supple.
Thursday, February 2, 2012
Wollemi did not winterize themselves muchWe are now into February, and the chances of having an arctic storm decrease every day. This week the daytime highs are in the mid 50's (F). Nighttime temps are in the mid 40's. I can put the some of the cycads and bananas out in this weather.
I opened up the greenhouse for some full sun, well, maybe I should rephrase that to full light, as they are in a shaded area. Only one developed a polar cap this year. All the others are as if winter never happened. Even new growth, and continued growth. They slowed down, but did not go into full-on winter self-protection and dormancy.
Monday, January 30, 2012
Wollemi frost nip?The Wollemi on the end of the greenhouse, nearest the circulation opening, has some leaves that have turned purple. There are only a couple, and they don't look like the ones that turned color from drought. I suspect that these may be reacting to the cold. So far they don't appear dead, with good turgor, flexibility and other aspects, except for the color. None of the other trees have similar symptoms.
Sunday, January 29, 2012
Wollemi tolerancesIt is the end of January, and the chances of extreme cold start to go down. Yes, there is always a chance of a freak storm, I remember snows in July, but overall, the weather should be getting milder as we head for Spring.
Pouring rain again today, and the nighttime temps up by 10 degrees F. Daytime temps expected to hit mid fifties all next week, which is average for this time of year.
The Hardiness Zone map for 2012 has just been upgraded to reflect overall warmer temperatures throughout the US. We are also seeing a huge population increase of snowy owls, which rarely come this far south.
Wollemi Pines are reported to survive temperatures as high as 110 F. But not always. Texas experienced triple digit temps last Summer for as much as 40 days in parts of the east and southeast US. Arboretums lost trees.
I just read that the young Wollemi Pines in the wild are naturally stunted in the bottom of the canyon, and some may be decades old and still quite small. Good news for the potential for bonsai. Bonsai possibilities have been mentioned in several articles. I have some observations on file for my trees, for another article, but so far, it looks like bonsai is a real possibility for the Wollemi, and I will be including at least one in my collection as the propagation efforts progress.
Saturday, January 28, 2012
WollemiWe had another cold night, mid twenties F, and the trees appear unaffected by the cold. Their color is good, and a couple of the trees have some slow growth continuing even now, with erupting side branches and coppicing.
The first trees to arrive still had their "snow cap" intact. The snow cap is thick cover of pitch that encloses the tender terminal leader. Others suffered breakage and I was curious how the broken terminal leader would affect their growth. As it turns out, the tree sends out a dominant new leader, and by the end of the Summer season, the breakage is barely distinguishable and the trunk already starts to appear straight. In one case, it is as if the breakage never happened. Good news. Resilient
So according to my research, temperatures below 19.5 F are not recommended for the Wollemi, even though there are some reports of them surviving colder temps. Off hand, those trees may have more protections in place, such as wind breaks, or soil insulation, to help the trees cope with colder temps. Because there are also reports of trees that did not survive temps colder than 19 F.
Oregon, where my trees are, can get down to 16 or more on the rare occasion, hence the green housing. Most years 18 degrees is also rare, but not as much, and 20 degrees is reasonably common, but only occurring a few days all winter, with high temps usually above freezing. The green house, when unheated, creates a good windbreak, and the trees seem sensitive to winds. The wild population have survived in deep, narrow, steep canyons, which probably don't experience much wind - ever.
Friday, January 27, 2012
Wollemi cold tolerance testedSpecial attention to the Wollemi Pines last night. Last night the the skies cleared, and the nighttime temperatures expected to be in the mid 20's F. Daytime temperatures remain above freezing, and the day before yesterday we had a warm daytime temperature of 54 F, slightly above average. As usual, when the clouds clear, the earth's heat is not kept close to the ground and the temperatures drop.
So I went to the greenhouse to turn on a lightbulb to keep the temp up a bit. I noticed the Wollemi tree closest to the pond, soil surface was warm to the touch. I tested the others and they were all cool, indicating a certain amount of water is in their soil, and not the warm one. So it was not just warmer due to the greenhouse's warmer atmospheric temperature in general.
The pond is not heated, but has an active waterfall pond pump, which also keeps the water temperature slightly warmer than it would be without the pump active. So far this winter, the pond has not iced up, so the temperatures must be adequate to keep it from frosting. But also this year, we have been free of low temps below the mid 20ís, so far.
So for some reason, the tree nearest the pond is either that much warmer than the rest, and uses more water, or it is in a position under the canopy that is not getting any condensation dripping on it. I watered it anyway, risking that the night temp of mid 20ís less harmful than drought.
It has been my experience with the Wollemi Pines, they are so sensitive to drought that it is imperative to keep track of their soil humidity. If they go dry they start to die quickly, and unless one is alert, can be gone before one realizes what is happening. I caught one Wollemi Pine just in time last Summer. Although there had been rain, and the others were OK, this one was in a sheltered spot and had missed out on the same rainfall. I noticed drooping branches and realized it was dry. It lost several lower branches over the next couple of months, and I believe had I not noticed in time, that the damage would have been irreversible, and even if kept wet, once a Wollemi goes past a certain point, it may appear green for a while (like cut Christmas trees) but end up a gonner, none the less.
More on this later, some branch loss reversed. Note the pic of the leaves coming directly off the branch in a spiral. These leaves show full turger. The brown spots appear to be sun damage, not scale.
Thursday, January 26, 2012
Wollemi fellow natives arrivedThe seed I ordered for the plant display have arrived, so now the task is to follow the germination instructions and hope for the best. Some of the seed types are only viable for a short time after harvest, so I will need to plant them right away, not waiting for the winter to wane.
The seeds are co-companions to the Wollemi Pine in the wild, grow in similar conditions, and in some cases, along with the Wollemi in their canyons. Hopefully seed germination will not be difficult after reading up on it a little more than in the past. Also, each type of seed comes with specific instructions regarding their specific germination needs. One batch goes in the frig for a while!
If these grow as fast as the Wollemi, then I should have some nice trees in no time.
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Raining buckets, Wollemi OKWow, it is raining so hard and so continuously that the sky is as dark as dusk. very little light is seeping through, and one would not realize it is midday by the look of it.
The rain drops are huge! Huge and non-stop. Here in the Northwest, there are a lot of names given to rain. Rain, light rain, drizzle, showers, downpour, - the weatherman may even say things like "rain turning to showers". For someone living anywhere else, the statement makes no sense, expecting either rain or no rain. After this season, they may have to add a few new terms: "raining buckets" or "waterfall conditions". Because it has been coming down like standing under the garden hose for hours. That says a lot coming from people who are accustomed to rain 9 months of the year.
The green house clips seem to be working to help the water drain away instead of puddling. Under these downpour conditions, I keep checking. Inside, the condensation keeps the trees happy. LIke the steep, damp, canyons they come from.
Monday, January 23, 2012
Wollemi will have company soonToday I received a bunch of seed for some rare and hard to find trees. Well, hard to find here in the US, anyway. I am looking forward to sprouting more specimens for the display. Searches for the same trees as saplings has been unsuccessful, and until this year, I haven't been able to find them for sale either. Historically, I don't have a lot of success at sprouting from seed, so I have acquired more books, more advice, and a lot more information, to see if I can gain a better success rate with a bit of training. This experience will come in handy when my Wollemi cones mature.
It is pouring rain again (or still) and expected to continue through several more days this week. This much rain is out of the ordinary, even for Oregon. Fortunately, the greenhouse also protects the Wollemi Pines from too much soaking (especially a no-no during really cold weather) and allows them moisture without drowning. And the clips have been successful at eliminating the puddle formations that hung precariously over the tree tops.
Sunday, January 22, 2012
Wollemi and the really wet winterThe last few days have been so wet that I reminisce the "Martian Chronicles" of Bradbury, stories about a planet of constant rain and heated environmental domes, and the psychological toll a continuing downpour can bring on... And we are used to rain in this part of the country, with more rainy months than sunny ones in any given year.
So the green house held up under the extremely heavy, water laden snow load. The snow was sooo wet and heavy that apparently it was lubricated well, and slid right off before building up too much. However, the plastic sheeting continued to sag, and huge pools, or should I say- ponds, - of water were forming - suspended over the trees like a camp shower about to burst. Pure fresh rain water - hovering precariously in anticipation of a crushing outpouring the moment the system fails.
Where we live has minimal air pollution, and after days of downpour, the rainwater is crystal clear.
Fortunately, I removed the rainwater in time, and de-stressed the sheeting, reset the frame, and fashioned some clips to help keep the plastic from ripping off again. The pools occur when the plastic starts to sag, and the clips are working to reduce the sag, direct the runoff into "runnels". If I had a proper green house, the sagging probably wouldn't be an issue. But I had $20 to build a 12 X 6 greenhouse with some PVC and construction sheeting, and it is what it is. So far, the greenhouse is working well considering...
I went through and thoroughly examined the trees, and they are all looking excellent. They look great, healthy, happy, and some new growth is visible. New pics soon - if the rain lets up for a few minutes...
Friday, January 20, 2012
wollemi pinesThe snow became a disaster in the making, when the morning rains hit, saturating several inches of snow with about as much water as it could hold. The temperatures, at just above freezing, mean that the snow keeps saturating water, melting, but not very fast. Walking through it, sometimes 8 inches deep in places, means that the footprints are filled with water 3/4 of the way up the print. It's like slogging through a cold creek bed.
Then the rain came down in buckets with a constant steady downpour all day. Just when one thought it couldn't be worse, the rain would come down harder for a while. So it was no surprise that the rivers rose quickly, and overflowed their banks in several local counties, displacing a lot of people from their homes and businesses.
The greenhouse did succumb to the weight of all that water, in places, and as the roof sagged into the trees, their soft nature allowed the branches to simply push to the side, until the weight was relieved and they bounced back to their original shape.
The upper branches are sort of rubbery, a consistency similar to wilted asparagus. This flexibility has been great, because a lot of branch damage is avoided when they simply bend, instead of snapping, when pressed.
Thursday, January 19, 2012
wollemi pine and snow dayWell, it happened just like the forecasters predicted. We received several inches of snow on the valley floor. Even the coast experience snow right on the beach, which is a rare occurrence. The snow load slid off the green house roof well enough and non of the trees were crushed. This is a warm storm, so the snow is heavy and full of water.
The trees look good, it does not appear to have affected them adversely, but then, it was not a particularly cold storm
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Snow on the valley floor, Wollemi don't care so farWe had quite a bit of snow here on the valley floor, elevation around 300 feet. Seattle has been dumped on with several inches of snow during this one evening, with the snow flurries starting early this morning instead of the usual overnight routine. Very big flakes coming down most of the day.
The Wollemi Pine green house is so temporary that it sagged quite a bit under the snow load.
I noticed one of the flaps had blown open and the tree nearest the flap was exposed to the cold.
Fortunately, this storm is a lot of moisture but just at or below the freezing line, so with the well protected roots, and windbreak protection from the major winds and cold, seem to be OK with the trees so far.
I go visit them every day, and check on them like children. So far, each time I see them the magic remains, and they are almost as exciting as the first time I saw them.
Just look at the new section of trunk near the new growth!
Monday, January 16, 2012
Huge amount of snow expected.Well, so far the overnight temperatures have remained reasonable this year. The weathermen are telling us to expect as much as 5 inches. For the northern parts of the US, 5 inches is not a lot. Here, it is not very common. I checked on the trees, and they are nice and clam inside their greenhouse. Snow may not slide off as much as it needs to, so I will have to keep an eye on snow load so that the roof does not collapse onto the trees.
This storm is not expected to be particularly cold, just a lot of precipitation.
So far, the enclosure condensation rains on itself and keeps the trees mildly moist without getting too soggy, and just enough to keep them from going dry. Perfect.
One of the trees has a snow cap developing already. Most of the others, no cap at all yet. One shows a cap just starting. Pic is of the ca at the end of winter last Spring. The greenhouse must be adequate protection from the cold, and has not triggered the winter defense of the growth tip.
Sunday, January 15, 2012
SnowWe experienced snow on the valley floor today, although most of it did not stick for long. The air temperature is at or near freezing, but just barely. The trees are snug in their greenhouse, which is heated by enclosure and a bit of compost only. If the temps get into the 20's, I might add a little heat. If the temperatures remain in the 20's both night and day, then heat is ready to turn on full time, bringing the trees up to near or just above freezing for the winter.
The roots had a nice gradual cooling period to get hardened for winter, and if the temperatures drop radically for an extended period of time, I don't want to worry about radical temperature fluctuations. Remaining hardened will help them in the long run.
Saturday, January 14, 2012
new seeds comingSo, in my continuing effort to get the Jurassic plant display going, I have an ongoing want list established. It never fails; as soon as I acquire a plant, 3 more new ones are added to the list, and sometimes an acquisition perishes because the conditions are not right for survival in this non-Jurassic environment.
So after years of searching, I found some rare seeds for sale, and should be getting them soon. HIstorically, I am not very proficient at seed sprouting, so may have to go to extra lengths in efforts to achieve success. Since the plants themselves have been even more difficult to find, the seeds will have to do for now.
Pic of Wollemi peak/crown in full new growth, from directly above the tree.
These are amazing plants!. Detailed records and photos of growth, recovery, breakage, and yes, propagation efforts, in an ever increasing file. So far I have been able to get one to recover from what looked like destiny with death, when several lower fronds began to die off. That tree looks fine now.
We may get snow at lower elevations this weekend. The trees still look great, and unphased by the cooler temps. They actually seem to like the reduced light levels of winter...
Wednesday, January 4, 2012
Wollemi observationsHappy New Year. After a very dry December, the weather pattern returned to the usual steady rain. We were close to happy the driest record ever for December when the rain started and we pulled in near average numbers - in the last 3 days of the month.
I watered the pines again even though the greenhouse humidity seems to keep them at a near perfect soil saturation level. We are experiencing unseasonably warm weather, with Pendleton reaching a whopping 69F today, and our local temps at about 55 days, and mid 40's at night.
If the days stay warm I may bring the trees our for some uncovered daylight, as a couple of them are looking a little pale.
Here is a pic of a young branch, before the needles flatten out.
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
weather changeAfter an incredibly dry December ( .10 vs .88 all time low) we have a big rainstorm bringing a large amount of water. The temperatures are a lot higher than they have been, with nights in the upper 40's, and highs in the mid fifties. Windy, but it feels good.
I forgot about the bonsai under the douglas firs, and noticed that they are really dry. So there I was, in the pouring rain, watering the plants....
THe pines are looking really good, and I gave them a shower as well.
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
rainforest in the greenhouseThe rainfall amounts for December are well below normal so far this year. We have had just over a 10th of an inch of rain, and usually have more like 5 or more inches during most Decembers. Very dry, and a few degrees below normal temps.
I am watching the Wollemi pines in the greenhouse, and they are being rained on daily by the condensation in the greenhouse. A corner of the greenhouse is over a corner of a small pond, so there is always a "puddle" of water inside the greenhouse. The pond is equipped with a couple of pond pumps for a waterfall and stone bubbler, so the water remains running and ice free so far, even if the temps are below freezing.
Check out the Jurassic looking, and unusual features on the trunk in my pics.
Sunday, December 18, 2011
winter wollemiThis year the cold weather creeped in gradually, allowing plant roots to harden up for winter. Last year we had temperate weather, then and extreme cold snap as seen in Jan/Feb, then back to average to warm weather for the season. I had brought huge trees into the house for about 10 days to get through the under 20 degree F cold snap that probably would have killed even the larger potted trees. Most of the smaller potted trees went into the garage, but the larger ones would not fit. Not to mention that they are just too tall and heavy to cart down the winding stairs to the garage. So they lay on their sides inside the house and up the stairwell to the 3rd story.
I did not want my new treasures, the wollemi, to freeze suddenly, so I built a makeshift greenhouse just for them. It is not stout enough to stay completely above freezing if it gets realy cold, but so far, it has taken the edge off the cold and the trees seem OK so far. But so far, we have maintains temps just at freezing, or down to 24 for a short time in the midddle of the night, with daytime temps remaining well above freezing.
Saturday, December 17, 2011
wollemi observationsThe trees arrived last Spring, and are bigger than I had imagined. They are full with fronds and also have branches and coppicing. Very thirsty, I have to watch their water closely. One must have gotten a little dry, as a lot of the lower fronds turned brown over a period of a couple of months, otherwise seems fine.
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