Sunday, September 8, 2013
Our solitary wild arbutus cluster experienced a difficult year. Its location is poor at best. Nestled among waste stones, this area was scraped by a bulldozer more than half a century ago when the gravel bank was first opened. Early this Spring, very little of the arbutus displayed any growth at all. I was certain that we had lost it. Now I believe that it received a visit from a hungry woodchuck just breaking hibernation. Only evergreen plants show growth at that time of year and so they are at risk of being eaten. This ground is so uneven that I can find no workable way to cover the plant with a cage. The plant did an admirable job of reestablishing itself over the Summer but no flower buds were seen today.
This new from seed plant has a flower bud and impressive leaves. The possibility of flowers on last year's baby is exciting. There was no sign of any new plants this year. The carefully watched female flower parts showed no sign of any seed. They must not have been pollinated. We do not know what insect is responsible for arbutus pollination. Early Spring weather must not have favored them this year.
Our known to be female plant has several clusters of flower buds. Three distinct groups can be found in this picture. Forming flower buds ahead of Winter seems unwise to me but how else would they be ready for their early Spring opening. Finding so many bud clusters today has me really looking forward to next Spring.
We will close with this group portrait. The from seed baby plant that appeared last year is at the top center of the picture. The female plant is located where 10 o'clock would be found on the face of a clock. The four transplanted arbutus and the from seed new plant form an impressive cluster. With any luck, these plants will be loaded with flowers come Spring.