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 Making and Maintaining a Partridgeberry Bowl

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PostSubject: Making and Maintaining a Partridgeberry Bowl   Thu Nov 13, 2008 10:19 pm

Making and Maintaining a Partridgeberry Bowl

Easy to make and care for, Partridgeberry bowls are welcome gifts at Christmas time or anytime. Also known as Sunshine Jars., These colorful little terrariums are a delightful holiday tradition.

The bright-eyed, crimson, twinseeded berry ripens on the tips of a tiny evergreen vine called "Mitchellarepens", after John Mitchell, an early Virginia naturalist. "Repens" specifies the plants creeping habit, Deerberry, running-plum, snake vine and two-eyes berry also identify this plant native to the acid shade of oak and conifers from the Maritime Provinces to Mexico.

However, as the sprawling patches are becoming scarce, berried cuttings should be procured from wild flower nurseries (or harvested where permissible by cutting stem ends without uprooting vines)

Container size depends on the number of berries being displayed. A few may be effectively combined with other tiny evergreen plants in a small bowl, apothecary jar, brandy snifter or glass ball

Companion plants associated with Partridgeberry are rattlesnake plantain (Goodyera pubescens), a terrestrial orchid with silvery veined leaf rosettes, shining clubmoss (Lycopodium lucidulum), and the tree-like clubmoss (Lycopodium obscurum) known as ground pine, spotted wintergreen or pipsissewq (both Chimaphila species) living sphagnum, and silver gray reindeer moss (Cladonia rangiferinal) These woodland plants are protected in many growing areas but bowls can be filled out with pachysandra, conifer seedlings, small table ferns or miniature ivy.

Acid potting soil, crushed charcoal and live sheet moss (or dried decorator moss) are basic essentials, assembled with the aid of scissors, pencil and teaspoon

Proportionately one-fourth the total container height, spread the bottom of a clean dry bowl with moistened moss. Green side down. Two teaspoonsful of charcoal will keep a pint-sized container from souring. Cover the charcoal with twice the amount of soil.

Trimming partridgeberry cuttings at a swollen joint or node induces rooting. Arrange in short lengths around the bowl, berries out, stems grouped inside. Layer more cuttings until the bowl is filled.

Poking down stem ends with the pencil, spoon more soil into the center opening and fill with longer berried cuttings, moss or low foliage accent.

After clenaing soil smudges and moss flecks from the glass, water lightly. One teaspoonful will activate the moisture cycle in a pint planter (less if soil is already moist) Unless covered, moisture will evaporate. If the bowl has no lid, cut one from glass or cover with a plastic coffee can lid or sandwich bag.

Moisture continuously beading the inside glass means the bowl is watering itself. If not, water sparingly, resealing the cover with transparent tape. Clear cloudy glass by tilting the cover, removing it entirely for several days to eliminate mold.

Avoiding warm locations, display in a cool bright place (where sunlight, if any, is brief and filtered). A small partridgeberry bowl will flourish in the nightly glow of an incandescent table lamp.

As spring nears, leaves and tiny paris of coral blossoms may appear Berries seldom develop indoors due to improper pollination.

Bowls comprised entirely of hardy outdoor material keep longer if refrigerated occasionally. Generally, they become overgrown when weather warms. Removing the rooted cuttings, start your own berry patch by planting them under rhododendron and other broad-leaved evergreens. Kept watered until established, vines will spread into a low ground cover from which leaves are easily raked.
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