Some spring milestones

It’s been a (re)productive spring here at the ranch. Some pictures:

I sighted some fry in one of the Betta macrostoma tanks. They are mouth-brooders; males have had clutches in their gullets before, but this is the first hatch-out.

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The Dendrobates leucomelas Guyana Banded laid their first eggs. A shot, taken moments ago, of the developing tads.

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My tiny little plug of Utricularia jamesoniana decided to flower. This is a woo-hoo all out of proportion to the size of the plant: I looked for a division of jamesoniana for years and to get one and have it flower within a year is a cause for celebration.

Utricularia jamesoniana

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And lastly, something I had nothing to do with at all. A Polyphemus Moth on a column at work:

Polyphemus moth

Kettle Hole Expedition II – pano and vids

As promised, a little more visual info from the great bog outing.

First, a panorama of the open water area of the bog. Side note: I downloaded and tried Hugin as a panorama stitcher (the source pix were taken w/o any assist – I can never find the pano mode on the camera and it has never done me much good anyway) and found it to be really quite excellent.

Bog pano

A video of me settling in to the mat, posted mainly for the sound of the water percolating up as I sank down.

And two videos of the mat undulating, the 1st mild and the 2nd a bit more wild.

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Kettle Hole Expedition

I’ve known about our local kettle hole for many years, but for no good reason, have never visited it. I fixed that yesterday. It’s an amazing place; I know that there are kettles and potholes elsewhere that make ours look like a teacup, but think about the size of the ice chunk that made this landform. Impressive.

Kettlehole

You first see the bog itself through the trees – lots of oak and some pitch pine as befits the very sandy soil – at the bottom of a steeply sloped dish. Most of the bottom of the kettle is a quaking bog, with some open water at the center (and around the perimeter). Here’s a shot of the bog showing the open water edge and, through the trees, the black spruce growing on the mat:

Kettlehole

And a shot from the mat, back at where the picture above was taken:

Spruce on the mat

On the mat, Sarracenia purpurea:

Sarracenia purpurea

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Sarracenia purpurea

A flowering bog laurel (Kalmia polifolia):

Bog laurel

And an especially stunted spruce:

Spruce on the mat

Expect a second post soon with video of the bog quaking (I hope) and audio of the water gurgling through the mat as yr humble correspondent stops and settles (again, I hope).

Seacoast Makers Viv How-to

About dang time I posted on this!  A couple weeks ago I did, as part of a Seacoast Makers outreach effort, a naturalistic vivarium how-to talk (otherwise known as a frog-and-pony show) at a favorite local plant place, Wentworth Greenhouses.

Yr humble correspondent, gesticulating.

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It went quite well – decent turnout and no one fell asleep. I went through a viv build from start to finish: enclosures, substrate, backgrounds, lids and lighting, plants and, finally, animals. As you can see above, I brought a 16″ cube and (on top of the cube) a small carrier with a Phyllobates vittatus inside. The Ranitomeya ventrimaculata Iquitos Red that inhabit the cube are shy at the best of times; no way were they going to show themselves after a car ride.

Good Tuftian that I am, the slide show was just that – a bunch of photographs loosely related to whatever I was talking about. Luckily -strike that- By design I have accumulated quite a few build documentation pics and they were put to good use. I thought about posting the presentation here for download, but I think for the moment I’ll make it available on request: if you’d like a copy of the presentation in .odp/Open Doc Presentation format, send along an email addy or share a Dropbox folder with me and I’ll get you a copy.  A few of the slide images after the jump.

Continue reading

Save the date

The International Carnivorous Plant Society comes to New England next August. For carnivorous plant nerds like yrs truly, this is a BFD. Expect reminders and indicators of excitement as the date draws nearer.

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Click the flyer or here to go to the main New England Carnivorous Plant Society conference page.

Checking in on the bog garden

The bog garden (construction posts here and here) is doing nicely; the sphagnum is taking off with the onset of some cooler weather, the cranberry foliage is turning red and the sundews are getting a second wind.

The whole thing.

the bog

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Drosera rotundifolia

D rotundifolia

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Drosera intermedia

D. intermedia

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Spiranthes cernua v. odorata – blossoms are just opening

img_4138.jpg

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And a couple shots of potted plants: Sarracenia minor Okefenokee Giant fenestrations

S. minor fenestrations

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An unknown Sarracenia hybrid

Sarracenia ?

Bog Garden II: planting

After a few days waiting for the peat moss to hydrate, I figured things had settled as much as they were going to. First, I trimmed the excess pond liner and then in went the plants! Super-easy transplanting – scoop an appropriate hole with your hands, and tip in the greenery.

Click through to see notes on what went where.

the bog

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Sarracenia purpurea

Sarracenia purpurea

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Sarracenia rubra

Sarracenia rubra

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Cypripedium reginae (1 year old plants, just getting started after dormancy)

Cypripedium reginae youngling

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Sarracenia flava (also year-old plants)

They’re either ornata or rubricorpora – I lost the tag on the pot.

Sarracenia flava

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And finally a tribute to Watkins Glen in the ’70s. I was there before the rowdiness got going, but read about it in car magazines. As I recall, burning the bus was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.

The Bog wants the bus!!

“The Bog wants the bus! The Bog wants the bus!”

Bog Garden I: construction

I’ve been thinking about putting in a bog garden for a couple years now, since I first encountered Mike and Richard’s excellent example:

Bog at Black Jungle

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Info on how they did it is here.

Rather than use a preformed plastic pond, I decided to use pond liner (should be available at any nursery/greenhouse with a water garden section; I got mine from Wentworth Greenhouses). It went like this:

Layout – I used a garden hose to outline the bog. I wanted a teardrop shape; since my liner was 8′ x 10′, I sized the bog at 5′ x 7′ at its maximum. The 3′ extra is to accommodate an 18″ depth (obvious, but…). the teardrop is oriented so that the narrow end points at the low spot in the layout. We’ll see whether I pull it off, but what I want to suggest is a seep/spring that peters out into the grass – I’m going to transplant some Siberian Iris into the drainage area.

bog build

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Digging out. A bamboo culm to span the sides, a tape measure for depth readings and a level. Getting the sides perfectly level is less critical with a bog that it is with a water garden – sphagnum will hide some sins. That being said, it’s probably best to avoid pitching the thing like a dang ski jump.

bog build

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Dig? Dug!

bog build

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Most pond-liner how-tos I’ve seen recommend putting down special underlayment to protect the rubber and if my soil had been a little bonier I might have considered it. It’s not though; I’ve got nice sandy loam down to 18″, so I took the swamp yankee approach – a newsprint protective layer.

bog build

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Laying the rubber in place:

bog build

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And beginning the fill with a sphagnum peat/rainwater slurry:

bog build

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I used 3 1/2 bales of peat

bog build

to get it mostly filled up

bog build

and then topped it with a bag of long fiber sphagnum (I’ll add another bag if I can find one).

bog build

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Voilà!

bog build

Some photos from a cold wet New England spring

Given what’s been happening in the Midwest, I am not going to complain at all about the spring weather here in New England; instead, I’ll just observe that it has been cold and wet. Cold enough that seeing wildflowers is a bit of a surprise – although photoperiod-wise they’re right on time, it still feels a little early. The green of new leaves against a gray cotton wool sky is close to hallucinatory in intensity; acid green, indeed.

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Pink Ladyslipper Cypripediun acaule getting ready to bloom.

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Frond unrolling.

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A new-to-me bog. I shall return.

KPK wunderkammer pano

At last Sunday’s NH Media Makers meetup, @spyboy turned me on to the 360 Panorama iOS app. It stitches in real time as you pan and uses the accelerometer to control panning when you display the photo. Way fun! Here’s the wunderkammer end of the classroom across the hall.

KPK Pano

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Update – here’s a link to the spinny version.

Update II – pano taken during a lunchtime walk to a local bog here.

 

Connections and Commensalism

The Internet is, among other things, a massive connection engine. I’ve made some great random connections following links around – some clicktrails I’ve managed to remember, some leave me scratching my head and grinning. The link to Sarah Jovan got established via Lord Whimsy’s live journal and an indication of interest in carnivorous plants. Regardless how tenuous the connection, there’s something in all of us (especially strong in me, perhaps) that loves to jump up and down and yell, “Hey! I (kinda/internet) know that person!”:

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The commensalism in the title?  Lichens are a symbiosis of fungus and algae. For Sarah, my favorite lichen (because my mum taught me it’s common name when I was about 8 or 9) – a Cladonia, too:

British Soldier Cladonia cristatella