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Posts posted by hmbluck

  1. My makeshift terrarium is now overgrown and was never intended to be a long-term solution.  Having recently moved house, I have an opportunity to install a larger unit (approx 930mm x 950mm x 300mm) on a utility room wall.  However, what I don't have is either the knowledge, skills or time to build this. 

    Are there any suppliers (amateur or professional) that could work with me to supply a complete solution?

    The terrarium is principally to grow Heliamphora and maybe a couple of smaller Nepenthes (there's currently a x Hookeriana and x Ventrata that desperately need more room!).  Not really concerned by budget at this stage - more interested to find someone that can help!

    Thanks in advance.



  2. Thanks for the compliments...

    Rob: I had hoped to visit the workshop during the process and again on collection, but unfortunately that wasn't possible this year.  I had a suminigashi knife made by a cutler in Sheffield a few years ago and was able to watch that come to life.  Again, a real joy to see somebody at the top of their trade at work.

    I'm now contemplating getting a garden gate made that will continue the carnivorous plant motif... we have a few rough designs that use Nepenthes vines climbing up the gate's rods, with the pitchers replacing the more traditional wrought iron baskets... very fluid, very natural-looking.  Unfortunately, the budget for a gate is currently being used on planting a dozen pleached trees to obscure the neighbouring property! 

    If anybody is interested in the sculpture (who did it, how much etc) let me know and I''ll create a separate post.


  3. Hi Rob, 

    If only I was that talented!

    I commissioned a master blacksmith back in November to make the sculpture.  Although we had agreed the design in general terms, he was unable to start making the sculpture until Easter. This was in-part due to demand for his time and partly due to COVID making a repair to a piece of equipment take longer than he'd hoped.  He also wanted to see how the plants grow and their morphology, beyond what he could determine from books and photos: so we had to wait until an indoor plant was showing pitchers in all stages of development (about end-March here in Cambridgeshire)... 

    Anyway, hopefully these photos taken by his wife will give you some idea of how  the piece was made and constructed.  It's galvanised steel so will weather over time and develop a patina that even up the tone... drainage holes at the base of each pitcher to prevent premature corrosion.  I just need to recess the plate into the sleepers for a more elegant finish: with work and home-schooling, I just haven't found the time!

    Best regards, Howard








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  4. Back in February I posted a few photos of the 2,000l carnivorous plant bog that I had sunk in our garden.  What follows are a few photos of how it has grown over the past months.  It still needs a couple more growing seasons to fill-in but the plants have put on a good show for their first year.  Also completed, nine months after commissioning, is the pitcher plant sculpture that should help create year-round interest, even when the real plants are in their winter dormancy.  I have high hopes for next year!


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  5. The Florida Panhandle is one of the world's most important areas for biodiversity. 

    This nine-day trip to the Gulf Coast states of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi was arranged to explore the longleaf pine forests. Historically, these ecosystems once stretched right across the South, nearly unbroken, from Virginia to Florida to Texas. Today less than 5 percent remains of the 90-million acre original system, which included open pine savannas with a lush understory of native grasses and groundcover. These forests host a remarkably diverse plant and animal community that includes some 300 bird and 2,500 plant species. Many of them depend upon a structure that is maintained by a frequent fire cycle (either natural or through managed-burns). 

    Of particular interest, were the bogs and other wetlands that provide a home to carnivorous plant communities. Due to man's unfortunate presence (drainage/land reclamation, development for housing, mining and logging activities) several of the sites may represent the last remnants of these communities. Many of the sites were on stewarded land (e.g. Nature Conservancy) whilst others were not. No detailed location information is provided in this album. 

    Additionally, the trip also provided an opportunity to view wetland birds, insects, reptiles etc. 

    Unfortunately, flash-flooding and heavy rainfall associated with Tropical Storm/Hurricane Barry meant that several hiking trails were closed or impassable in Louisiana and Mississippi. Similarly, by the time I returned to Florida, water levels in Apalachicola National Forest and the prairies towards Gainesville had risen significantly. This meant that further opportunities to view additional sites was unfulfilled.












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  6. Last autumn I had a bog installed in the sunniest corner of our south-west facing rear garden.  Having been a collector of carnivorous plants for many years this modest-sized bog garden now affords me to develop a more permanent display in the garden. 

    At around 3.5m (long) x 4.2m (at its widest), the total volume of materials required to fill it comprised: 1,600 litres of peat; 400kg of horticultural sand (lime-free, of course), 400 litres of perlite.  The compositional mix varies, depending on the intended location of the various plant types. 

    Planting has started this weekend with 25x Darlingtonia californica, 15x Pinguicula grandiflora, 40x Dionaea muscipula with a further 25x butterworts, 35x Venus's flytraps, 65x sundews (including Drosera binata, capensis, rotundifolia, filiformis, tracyii, anglica), and 60x hardy pitcher plants (Sarracenia flava, flava var. maxima, flava var. cupra, flava var. rugelii, flava var. rubricorpora, purpurea purpurea, purpurea venosa and purpurea heterophylla and a few natural hybrids) to be planted later this month.  Sympathetic bog plants that are non-invasive will provide shelter to some of the more delicate carnivorous plant species.  On the raised railway sleeper platform at the rear, a specially commissioned 1.3m tall pitcher plant sculpture made by a master blacksmith will add year-round interest and a focal point for the winter months.

    If people are interested in seeing how the project develops, I will be updating this post periodically.  Message me if you want details of landscaper, blacksmith and nurseries and stone/growing medium stockists and I'll be happy to share these.  

    Really looking forward to getting this planted and for the summer to roll round!




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  7. Thanks for your reply. The soil mix is two parts perlite, one part peat. Full, sunny exposure in a bog garden with daily cooling with crushed rainwater ice-cubes. Haven't had any losses previously and none of my other plants are showing any signs of disease or stress. It seems to affect large clumps of parent plants only - the plants at the end of runners appear to be in good health.

  8. Hi, I'm just wondering whether others are experiencing loss of established plants as the summer draws to its end? I've noticed around a half-dozen older plants have recently, and for no apparent reason, started becoming flaccid before browning and dying. I've dug a couple of these plants out and the entire plant appears to be dead. There's no grubs in the soil (a few snail/slug eggs were found earlier in the year and removed) and the plants have been kept watered and their roots cool... I'm at a bit of a loss... Any thoughts/similar experiences would be welcomed. Howard

  9. Some are - some aren't! It depends on what you want to grow and just how exposed your garden is. Our garden gets strong winds from time-to-time which can sometimes damage the plants, I've found that Gardman plant supports can help the tallest plants (such as the Sarracenia flava variants, S. leucophylla and some of the taller Sarracenia hybrids) but generally once the leaves finish developing and 'harden-off' wind isn't a big issue. The heavy rain and hail we've experienced here has done far more damage to the plants.

    For low-growing plants consider: Venus' fly-traps, native sundews, native butterworts, Sarracenia purpurea, S. psitticina etc.

  10. Hi Phil,

    It may be your recent registration is preventing you from viewing the growlist, or the link may be faulty (doesn't appear to be for me, but I don't know about others). In the meantime, here is the growlist:



    PS And by the way 'Welcome!"


    • follicularis


    • californica


    • muscipula (standard clone)
    • muscipula (giant trap erect form)
    • muscipula (large green form)
    • muscipula (red line form)
    • muscipula ('Royal Red' form)


    • anglica
    • binata
    • binata var. multifida
    • binata var. multifida f. extrema
    • capensis (pale form)
    • capensis (typical form)
    • filiformis
    • filiformis var. tracyi
    • rotundifolia
    • binata var. multifida
    • nidiformis
    • intermedia
    • filiformis (all red form)

    • x hybrida
    • x beleziana


    • nutans x heterodoxa


    • grandiflora


    • alata
    • flava
    • flava var. maxima
    • leucophylla
    • minor
    • minor 'Okefenokee Giant'
    • psittacina
    • purpurea subsp. purpurea
    • purpurea subsp. venosa var venosa
    • purpurea subsp. purpurea f. heterophylla
    • flava var. cuprea
    • flava var. ornata (F198)
    • flava var. ornata (Apalachicola National Forest) (F203)
    • flava var. rubricorpora (Giant red tube, Apalachicola National Forest) (F112)
    • flava var. rugelii (Milton, Florida)

    • x chelsonii
    • x catesbyi
    • x catesbyi var. heterophylla
    • x 'Juthatip Soper'
    • x moorei
    • x excellens
    • x harperi
    • x mitchelliana
    • x swaniana

  11. With the exception of the Cephalotus and Heliamphora, all of the plants in my grow list are grown outdoors. Most stay outdoors year-round, only the Sarracenia minor, S. psitticina, Drosera capensis, D. binata var. multifida f. extrema and filiformis are removed and spend their winter in an unheated (but sheltered) garage.

    Haven't lost any plants to the winter in the past three years (touch wood!).

    Hope this helps.


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  12. Just a quick question: I'm looking to start growing Nepenthes but would want plants that remain compact over time as I am limited on the amount of space available for this purpose. I have a small terrarium that I'd be looking to use (30 x 30 x 80cm [w x d x h]). I seem to recall seeing a post about a fortnight ago of a small terrarium with N. ampullaria? that looked ideal... Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated, also the names of any UK-based suppliers (of course, if this latter request contravenes forum rules on discussing dealers etc then please pm me).

    Thanks in advance,


  13. For anybody that may be interested...

    Please click on the following link to view a selection of photographs taken during a recent trip to northern California and southern Oregon to view, principally Darlingtonia californica in the wild. In addition, two other species Drosera rotundifolia and Pinguicula macroceras ssp. nortensis were also encountered.

  14. Dear All,

    In recent weeks I've noticed that my H. nutans x heterodoxa have started to produce pitchers with very poor nectar roll/spoon development.

    I realise this can indicate insufficient light, although the plants are grown in a terrarium with two 45W blue spectrum 6400K growlights powered for 14 hours a day and located approximately six-eight inches above the top of the plants. The plants all have a good degree of colouration. I mist twice daily, humidity is maintained at around 65% and the temperature inside the terrarium is about 24C during the day, dropping to 18-20C at night. Without constantly moving the plants around the house, I'm going to struggle to achieve a greater temperature variation now that the central heating is on. So my question is this:

    Are my plants not developing properly because of poor or low levels of light or do the other variables have an impact? Most texts I've read only talk about light being the issue, but given the otherwise strong growth (leaves are getting to four-five inches) and healthy colouration I do wonder...

    Any help or observations would be gratefully received.


    PS The Cephalotus really seem to appreciate the growing conditions in the terrarium... I am curious to learn whether, come the Spring, they can be grown successfully outdoors in southern England? Longer-term: how hardy are they?

  15. Hi All,

    As winter approaches my thoughts have turned to preparing my plants for their hibernation period. Cutting away dead/dying growth and checking the soils for pests, I have noticed a larger than usual quantity of slug eggs; particularly in the more open growing medium I use for the Darlingtonia. Does anybody know of a good way of preventing future occurrances? (During the winter period a number of plants will need to be divided and repotted so can remove the eggs by hand; but ideally I don't want to disturb the plants every winter unless absolutely necessary). I've read that copper strips can deter slugs; various insecticides and, of course; beer traps... which (if any) works the best or are there other methods that either kills the adult slugs or prevents their eggs from hatching?

    Best regards,


  16. Could anyone advise what this is?


    It started to appear about a week ago as a smooth, cigar-shaped 'appendage' about an inch-and-a-half long. In the past couple of days it has raised itself from the horizontal and appears to be opening. None of my four other Darlingtonia have developed in this way and I would like to know (a) what it is and (b) whether I should intervene in any way.

    Kind regards,


  17. Hi all,

    Now that the summer is in full swing and the insect populations are at their peak, my plants that are grown outdoors are practically groaning under the weight of trapped insects. The sundews are black with small flies and the occasional moth; the Venus Flytraps have every other trap working away on some poor critter and the pitcher plants are so full of insects that many of their leaves are starting to discolour and rot. However, I witnessed something I hadn't seen before, but I'm sure many people on here may have: trapped wasps (Vespula vulgaris) cutting their way free from overly-full pitcher plants. Over the course of Sunday afternoon I saw four S. flava traps develop holes about three inches down from the lip of the traps and the top of one large S. psittacina trap be cut completely off. Apart from being quite upset at the destruction caused, I do wonder whether there is any way of keeping these insects away from the plants (perhaps a buddleia of the wasp world?) or a chemical repellant that could be applied in the vicinity of the bog/potted plants?

    Kind regards,


    PS Apologies for posting here - I was looking for a 'Pests' section, but couldn't find it!

  18. hey Howard, that is your name right? Im Dex from Chicago Il USA, and beleive it or not I am also experiencing the same with my S. Minor. Their pitchers are very small and weak early this year, so I fertilized it foliarly. And somehow just the last three weeks did it finally pitchered nicely, though slow, its producing lots of it. Try fertilizing but very weak dose though, and every two to three weeks...oh and lots of sun and flush with pure water after the second day from initial fertilization....

    "Lifes a garden....dig it"...


    Hi Dexter,

    I'm not sure how applying a weak foliar feed to the inactive plant would encourage it to start growing. Does an increase in nutrient levels trigger new growth? I don't know...

    The other plants, although small, are getting plenty of what they need judging by the number of ants that have fallen to their doom!

    Best wishes,