Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Early Fall Arbutus Buds

Overnight temperatures in the mid 50s F followed by bright sunlight drew me outside today.  This is the season when arbutus plants are forming next year's flower buds.  These first to flower plants must get a jump on the season if their white sweetly scented flowers are going to be ready early.  This patch of four plants was transplanted from the wild four years ago.  They were scheduled to receive a new larger protective cage with newly laid drystone walls to prevent hungry rabbits and woodchucks from feeding here.  That task will not be completed this year.

At least three bud clusters can be seen here in a curved line between leaves.  Start at the left edge of the photo just below the large leaf that extends to the top.  A cluster of buds are adjacent to the pine needles.  Stay focused on the gap between leaves and move across encountering two more clusters of buds.

Now that you know what to look for, these two buds are quickly found.  The tell tale hole in the leaf identifies these buds as the same ones seen in the upper photo.

This is our only patch of wild arbutus.  Two years ago a hungry bunny ate all of these plants clear to the ground.  Only then did we come to understand the reason why these plants seemed to repeatedly disappear.  Rugged beyond description, these plants regrew under a wire cage.  This is a rather small appearance for plants that we know are more than a quarter of a century old.  We will see how quickly they fill the area under the cage.

Two years after the attack, this plant is set to flower next Spring.

This is our twice transplanted arbutus.  When we last moved plants from the wild, a small cluster of perhaps three separate plants could not be left behind.  Two were moved this year to a location under an ancient white pine that has grown up in an old stone wall.  We planned to remove the rusted barbed wire and reset the wall so that these plants could grow next to a stone wall.  That is another job that awaits completion.

My last day of outside garden work was on August 1, 2015.  A simple move from kneeling to standing unleashed pain in my lower back that extended to the right hip and ran to the end of that foot.  Three muscles that attach to the hip remained firmly flexed and could not be persuaded to relax. A large quantity of prescribed pain medicines finally brought relief, but then caused massive bowel problems.  That uproar set off an aged gall bladder that threatened my liver.  Emergency surgical intervention followed in a week by surgical removal of the gall bladder may finally finish this experience.  With help I may be able to plant my garlic in three weeks as this gardening season comes to a close.  One has to wonder if  the prudent course is to be a move into a senior community.  I would like it best if it had a spot where I could transplant some of my arbutus.  Does anyone know of a good one?

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