Wednesday, January 6, 2016
No Real Snowfall Yet
As is frequently the case here, our snow on the ground is less than what was forecast. The snowplow remains covered and unused. Every now and then the cover is set aside and the engine is started. When we do need the tractor to start, it must be ready. With all of this down time the engine discharges a huge plume of smoke when it roars to life.
The first picture shows the current status of the first four arbutus plants that were transplanted here several years ago. Both visits by a woodchuck and a rabbit made it clear to us that a protective cage is required to allow the wild plants to grow and flower. The plants are now in contact with the edge of the cage so a new larger cage will be constructed so that we can uncover the planting to smell the flowers and harvest the seed. This solution will be short lived. At some point either the cage will be permanently removed or the plants allowed to grow past its protection.
This is our only truly wild arbutus planting. We have seen it growing here for more than two decades. Some years we could find no trace of the plants and other years it flowered. A late winter hungry rabbit ate these plants flush to the ground. What can be seen now is a single year's regrowth. Apparently these plants have experienced foraging damage many times in their lifetime. That they have reappeared speaks to the tenacity of arbutus. That animals eat them may explain the common difficulty of keeping arbutus in a garden. We will see one or two flower clusters here this year but another year's regrowth will be necessary for numerous blooms.
The shallow sunken stone well is intended to limit cage removal to those animals with opposable thumbs. So far no animal has been able to push the cage aside or sneak under it. We however can lift the cage clear and enjoy arbutus fragrance close up.
Our recent second attempt to transplant arbutus from the wild included a cluster of small plants. We recently separated two plants but were unwilling to disturb root masses any further than that. Both plants handled the second move well and have put on new growth. The nearby remains of a barbed wire fence will be removed and the old fallen stone wall will be carefully rebuilt. In time a large arbutus planting will grow here into a stone wall. The close placement of arbutus and wall stones must have occurred naturally some place. It should be beautiful.
One of the benefits of working with old field stone is the age of the new wall remains secret. This wall was recently built to protect an arbutus transplanting site from right-of-way traffic. To date the wall has not been struck and the six transplants are growing unmolested. Some tidying up will improve our foot access to these plants. Left over stone needs to be removed as do brier crowns. Grading with woods soil will smooth the sloped approach to these plants. Fallen pine needles will be scattered to hide our work from sight. Now if we could just have snowfall sufficient to cover these plants, all would be right in this small corner of our world.