Wednesday, June 22, 2016
New Growth And Seeds
These two arbutus plants have been moved twice. Their first transplantation found them near our older plants. They were small one year old plants then and we needed them close by where we could watch them. Last year we felt that these two were ready to be set out on their own. Placed in the deep rotting mass of decades of fallen white pine needles, these plants prospered. The many stems sporting light green leaves are new growth that formed in just the last few weeks. Darker leaves show the limits of the old growth that was present at the time of the second move. I find both the size of the new growth and the speed with which it appeared to be impressive.
We knew that one of these plants was female and the other male. Due to their relative youth, we were not expecting to find seed this year, This young lady has two separate clusters of seed berries. We visit here daily hoping to see the mature seeds exposed when the cover splits and is pulled back. Chipmunks live close by in an old stone wall and we are aware that these seed berries could disappear at any moment.
The female plant is to the right in the first photo. Sharp eyes might find this seed cluster located at the six o'clock position between the long new stem and the shorter one to its left.
Nearly all of the leaves present on the left most plant were blackened by winter's end. We suspect sun scorch as the cause of the damage despite the shade cast by the huge white pine. A slope in the ground places the two plants in different orientation to the winter sun despite their closeness. This male plant carried on despite the leaf damage. Pollen was produced to fertilize the female flowers. Impressive new leaves were formed to carry on the functions of the plant. In many ways arbutus reveals itself to be one rugged plant despite its reputation as impossible to move.
This photo also illustrates the the complexity of the stem structure. The browned upper leaf and the dark green leaf beneath it are last year's growth. The pointed structures between the two older leaves are the remains of the male flowers that produced the successful pollen. The two light green hairy stems that originate between the two leaves and flower cluster are this year's new growth. I am considering placing a heavy wire U just behind the old growth forcing the old stem into the ground. The purpose of that would be to see if new root growth sufficient to sustain a separate plant would form.
Here is the current status of the first four arbutus plants that were transplanted here in 2011. The light green leaves are all new growth formed in just the past few weeks. Here and there the older dark green leaves can still be seen. This much new growth was totally unexpected.
The events of last fall have impacted our recent conduct. We were unable to carry water to our arbutus then as a result of personal injury. Arbutus set their flower clusters in the fall and the severe drought limited the number of buds set. As a result, flowers were rather scant this year. Buds form on the new growth. We could not have the present lack of rainfall limiting the amount of new growth. All of our plants have received a sprinkling can or two of water nearly every day for the past several weeks. The new growth cycle is nearing completion so we can rest easy for some time. If the lack of rainfall continues, we will resume daily waterings in about one month. We really want an impressive set of blossoms next spring.