Saturday, November 20, 2010

A New Grape Variety?

There are two ways of propagating plants. One is sexually by seed, the other is asexually by vegetative means eg. cuttings, grafting, budding, layering are some of many.
One of the problems with sexual propagation is that in many cases a seed will not produce an exact ‘copy’ of the female parent due to its heterozygous nature.
On the other hand vegetative propagation will ensure an exact 'copy' of the parent.
Last year I found a grape seedling growing in a remote part of the garden. One can only assume the seed was deposited there by a bird and it came from one of the five varieties of grapes I grow here.
So I dug it up and planted it in a pot.
This year it has grown extremely well.
And the resultant vine is quite a puzzle .
The leaves of the new vine (top) look pretty much like Cabernet Sauvignon (bottom) with medium deeply five lobed leaves and the petiolar sinus cut right into the veins at the base. The only other vine that I know of with the latter characteristic is Chardonnay but its leaves are three lobed and very much different in shape.

The most distinguishing feature of the new vine however is its red shoots and red leaf veins and none of the established vines here have that.
Do we have a new variety here?
Will the fruit be red or white?
Next year I will plant it out and wait to see what eventuates.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Some Early November Musings

We have had over a week of rain!
And it still continues.
Good for the grass, vines and dams but limits the amount of outside work you can do as well as visits to the beach.
So in an effort to ward off a bout of cabin fever I will ramble on a bit, horticulturally.
The spring flower displays continue to impress. Our very old and large bottlebrush (Callistemon sp.) is having a bumper year. It is just covered in flowers.
This genus is doing well all over our area. It is a very popular garden plant. Most flower spikes are red but there are white, yellow and purple varieties as well. A rare one is green but have not seen one of those around here.

Back in 2007 I blogged about my new Wollemi Pine (Wollemia nobilis).
When a small stand of these trees was found in a remote part of the Blue Mountains near Sydney sixteen years ago, it was seen to have certain characteristics of the 200-million-year-old family Araucariaceae but was not similar to any living species in the family. Comparison with living and fossilised Araucariaceae proved that it was indeed a member of that family. Fossils resembling Wollemia and possibly related to it are widespread in Australia, New Zealand and Antarctica but Wollemia nobilis is the sole living member of its genus. The last known fossils of the genus date from approximately 2 million years ago.
The location of the trees is still a closely guarded secret but thousands of clones have been cultivated for public sale.
Ours is still growing well in a pot, albeit a bigger one, and now quite tall. It is a fascinating plant to watch, especially in spring.
The trunk growing point as well as those of the branches are covered initially in wax (probably evolved for cold climate protection) which is then discarded as new branches/leaves start to form.

There is an interesting discussion about this tree on the Royal Botanical Gardens web site.