Saturday, August 4, 2012
August 2012 Arbutus
Nearly daily visits with the watering can brought the Arbutus through the July drought. The plant at three o'clock was low growing nearly hidden by the moss. Its new growth is taller than the moss bringing the plant into full view. New growth in three different directions is evident on the uppermost plant. The plant at the bottom of the picture was eaten to the crown this spring. All of its new growth is directly connected to the crown. Branching stems may be added next year.
We are trying to understand the life cycle of Arbutus. It carries leaves through the winter. They fuel both flowering and new growth. Evergreen trees drop their needles at this time of year but the Arbutus still retains the old leaves. The shorter darker leaves were on the plant last year. We are watching to see if and when they are shed.
This picture looks just like the one taken here last month. Two old leaves are positioned just below the remains of a flower cluster. Our plants sported several flower clusters but this is the only one that can be found now. We hope that this is a seed bearing female flower. The other flowers that have disappeared without a trace may have been male flowers. Next year we will look to see if the flowers on this plant are visually different from the others. Learning to distinguish between male and female plants seems rather basic but remains outside of our skill set.
This single new small leaf has been under strong scrutiny for the past month. If wishing made it so, this would be a new Arbutus plant from seed. As it is, this is likely a closely watched weed. The indentations around the edge of the leaf are not found on established Arbutus leaves. When we first found this leaf a month ago, it was covered with short hairs like new Arbutus leaves. Additional growth is absent from this plant like slow growing Arbutus. This little guy is safe from the eager weeder unless it clearly presents itself as another kind of plant.
Last month's pictures showed unusual growth on one plant. It turned out to be late appearing new leaves. Next year's flower buds will appear sometime this fall. We will be looking for them so that we know exactly when and where they form. Will they appear on old or new growth?