Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Arbutus Seed Naturally

When I drove to our distant meadow this morning, my intention was to take new growth from the recently transplanted arbutus and give rooting cuttings another go.  Total shock and surprise hit me when this newly opened seed pod came into view.  Hope of getting this picture this year had been almost totally abandoned.  Taking this picture has been a personal goal for at least two years.  I still cannot believe my good fortune of finding myself in exactly the right place at exactly the right time.

These four seed pods have been open a bit longer that the first one shown.  Ants seek out the white sticky but tasty pulp.  Bite sized chunks of it are transported away.  Seeds are randomly and inadvertently planted as they fall away from the pulp that is carried back to the nest.  Left to run this natural course, we could find new arbutus plants scattered along the ant's pathway.  It has long been my goal to have arbutus plants appear here in numbers to even the score in light of my meddling.  That outcome now looks like it is within reach.

This seed pod is headed to a favorable spot under an old white pine.  That particular tree is backed by an old stone wall that was built at field's edge a very long time ago.  Our selected planting spot is located on the side of the wall that was not cultivated field.  We want these seeds to fall into deep natural soil.  Old poor but pure forest floor soil favors the growth of this native wildflower.

The four cuttings in the green pots are from plants that produced pollen this year.  Two black colored pots hold cuttings from the female plants that produced seed clusters.  If these cuttings root, and that is a very large if, we will plant two different locations with both genders of plant so that a natural increase in their numbers is possible.  If our previous inability to get arbutus cuttings to root repeats itself here, we will not try this ever again.  In that event, any increase in the number of plants growing here will have to come from seed.

An additional example of the way my good fortune is ruling this day was provided by a large garter snake.  I saw it slither into my shed via the open door.  Knowing its approximate location enabled me to move some stuff to expose the snake.  Persuading it to turn toward the still open door was easily accomplished.  It is outside where it belongs and I will not have the experience of happening on a trapped and angry snake inside of my shed with no warning to me.  Without question, luck was with me today.

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