Sunday, January 20, 2013
Arbutus In January
The recent snow is nearly gone so it was possible to see the transplanted arbutus. A wire cage protects the arbutus from foraging woodchucks but it certainly detracts from the "wild plants in a natural setting look" that we were trying to create. The cage is placed to the side every time that we visit here so we get to see these plants in a native appearing setting. Recent snowfall has consisted of small dry flakes that passed easily through the wire mesh. We have yet to determine how we will deal with heavy wet snow flakes that would pile up on top of the cage. The cage may have to be set aside when such snow begins to fall.
Six days ago all of the snow had melted. With the dreariness of short winter days beginning to color our moods, we needed to see something bright green and growing. Both the arbutus and its companion moss lifted our spirits. It is easy to understand the past widespread use of these greens as indoor decorations. On my next visit, I will have to check to see what odor, if any, these leaves possess. Picking a single wintergreen leaf to sample both its taste and scent happens occasionally but the arbutus leaf smell will be sampled in place.
Man has certainly had a deleterious impact on native plants. One could easily believe that the plants would be better of if they were simply left alone. If you accept that individual death is a natural event, then a hands off approach might be better. My seedling arbutus might have a different view. A full sized oak leaf had fallen across the tiny seedling. I do not understand how the oak leaf passed through the wire cage. It must have blown into the arbutus area while the wire cage was placed to the side. Later, wind could have moved it to cover the seedling. Loss of color accompanied by possible leaf damage followed the loss of daylight caused by the covering oak leaf. Had I not intervened, the seedling may have smothered in the dark. One purpose of my frequent visits is to remove some of the debris from the plants. Fallen blueberry leaves and pine needles are allowed to remain close by so that natural decay can nourish the treasured arbutus. Our need to meddle while trying to create a natural planting is certainly inconsistent but that is the way it is.