Schachen Log 8
The results of the plants pollinated under isolating tents are disappointing. Of the three different plants species pollinated by hand only Primula sikkimensis was a success. Unfortunately, only one out of six pollinated flowers of Aquilegia bertolonii set seed. With only one plant in the collection I need seed true to type for the next generation of plants. I once ordered garden material of this Aquilegia but it turned out to be Aquilegia flabellata var. pumila, a very nice plant but not the one I was hoping for. Aquilegias are fairly easy to prepare for hand pollination as no isolating net is required; the petals are removed from the bud just before it opens so that no pollinators are attracted to the now naked flowers. The pollen is too heavy for wind pollination to occur. The flowers are protandrous with the anthers (the flower on the left in the picture) shedding their pollen before the stamens (flower on the right) mature. This is where I made my mistake; I didn’t strip and pollinate as many flowers as there were available which would have given me numerous flowers at different stages of development with more anther and stamen maturities coinciding. Six flowers were obviously too few, next year I’ll strip and pollinate all the flowers.
The plant of Dianthus callizonus, which was covered with a net while in flower and pollinated often, didn’t set any seed at all! With this plant I had doubts while pollinating as the pollen was never visible on my finger, it is lavender-blue on the anthers, and I wondered if I was doing it properly. Well, obviously I wasn’t and I’ll have to read up about Dianthus reproduction. Was it too cold and wet for seed set, are they self sterile?
The last week has been hot and dry and I had hoped to get by until the next thunder storm without unpacking the hosepipe; our water pressure is not that good and watering is a time consuming activity. But after four days of heat and no rain, not even morning dew, the Edelweiss – one of the most popular plants with our visitors – and the Meconopsis napaulensis were visibly wilting. Tuesday evening, I unearthed the hosepipe and watered the lower garden. Two hours later the lower area was watered and the next morning I spent two hours watering the upper garden. We’ve tried using sprinklers but they waste a lot of water and our spring is not running strongly at present, even after all the rain we had in July. Our water reservoir holds 12 m3 but at only a quarter full the pump has been running sporadically for the past few days. At the moment it takes about 3 hours for the collection basin the pump is in at the spring to fill and the pump empties this basin within 2 hours. So three times a day I switch the pump on for a couple of hours.
The garden and the meadows are showing signs of autumn with the late flowering gentians putting on a good show. The slopes behind the Schachenhaus are full of Gentiana pannonica.
There are a few plants of Gentiana asclepiadea in flower, too.
Gentianella ciliata is common amongst the shorter grass at the edge of the paths.
I found this dwarf plant of Aconitum napellus growing on the exposed ridge of the Teufelsgesäß above the Schachenhaus. It’s very stony here unlike the pockets of deeper soil this plant usually grows in.
In the Alpine Garden Gentiana hexaphylla is almost in full flower. This plant does very well since it was replanted on a gentle slope which is fairly moist and shaded in the late afternoon. I used feed all the autumn Gentians with dried, sterilized cow dung, but it's no longer on sale and I'm still looking for a substitute. Collecting cow pats from the meadows around the garden, drying and sterilizing them might end up being the only solution.
Silene elisabethae is flowering later than usual; it needs warmer, drier conditions than we’ve had this season. Only recently have I fully realised the advantages offered by the plant bed on the east of our hut. The proximity to the hut protects the bed from excess moisture as most of our rain comes from the west and it’s warmer as it benefits from the heat radiating off the hut. Plants which need drier conditions, such as Coluteocarpus vesicaria, Cyananthus longiflorus, Leontopodium dedekensii and Townsendia rothrockii grow very well here.
Hirpicium armeroides, from Lesotho is in flower and looking better than the plants in Munich which always seem to have heat stroke with long, pale yellowish leaves and small flowers. I didn't expect this plant to do as well on the Schachen as it is. It does need warmth and sun to flower, but grows happily even if the summer is cold and wet.
In less than two weeks the Alpine Garden closes and then I'll only be up there for day trips, two or three times before winter, to harvest seed.