Sunday, May 17, 2015
3 For 3
A number of basic errors were made in the placement of these six transplanted arbutus last year. The distance separating the individual plants is small. They do now have a year's additional growth but that might have been anticipated. Two plants in the foreground are both female and that was known at the time of planting. Alternating male and female plants would have made pollination more likely. The old cage was small last season and needed replacement before new growth appeared. Now there is twenty-five square feet of protected ground available for new growth. The three stones inside the cage are intended to keep the cage wire above the plants should some critter walk across here. The row of stones at the base of the wall will keep the cage firmly pressed against the tree trunk and defines a suitable walkway for people. Low stone walls will be placed along the remaining two sides of the wire cage to hold it in place laterally. When they are finished these plants will be safe from foraging rabbits and woodchucks.
The time for arbutus flowers has quickly passed. With this year's early excessively warm daytime temperatures and a complete lack of rain, these sweetly scented blossoms lasted just over one week. That seems unusually quick and we did not spend nearly enough time inhaling their aroma. Last year this process moved more slowly. Now we will have to wait for nearly a full year for another opportunity to adequately enjoy their fragrance.
Three of these plants are female and all are sporting tiny seed capsules. Two of the plants had pink flowers and their seed berries are also pink. The white flowered plant has white seed clusters. This color connection is simply an observation. We make no claim about an actual cause. Two hairy stems mark the beginnings of new plant growth. Forming seeds while growing new plant parts must make this the busiest time of the yearly cycle for these female plants. There are at least three blossoms shown that did not set seed. None of them now display the style that would have collected pollen.
These two seed clusters prominently show their styles. A five pointed star can be seen at the end of the right most style that is still firmly held in the center of the seed berry. The long profile of the other style shows just how deeply in the base of the flower the seed berries are located. The tip of the style was well inside the opened flower. The developing seed berry may have pushed the spent blossom clear. Cast off flowers litter the nearby ground.
We still have seen no sign of new plants from the seed formed last year. Perhaps other options will give us new plants from seed this season. A huge white pine has been found growing on the end slope of the kame terrace. That location would give us a chance to plant arbutus on a slope. There is still much to do and learn about this plant.