Saturday, October 7, 2017
Do not let the yellowish cast of this all important White Pine tree alarm you. This is the time of year when these trees renew themselves. Some of the old needles have turned yellow in the process that will end with them falling to the ground. Their vacated place will quickly be filled with bright new green needles. This transformation continues in an orderly fashion with the tree always appearing mostly green.
Trailing Arbutus plants require a highly acidic soil if they are to grow. Rotting fallen pine needles form such a soil. We are working to keep the area near the arbutus free of nasty blackberry bushes and an evil creeping thorn bearing vine. The thick covering of recently fallen pine needles may help our efforts in time. My stone walls are built with two separate inward sloping faces. That creates a low area down the center of the top of the wall which is now filled with brown needles. That makes a slippery place to sit and you could get pine sap on your pants but some think that it looks sharp.
Arbutus is also an evergreen plant but I have never seen it cast off old brown leaves. These prized plants are under nearly constant surveillance and we look without success for old fallen leaves. It seems unlikely that these leaves are several years old. So far the method of leaf replacement for these plants remains their secret.
Every now and then we remove the wire cage that denies rabbits a meal from our plants while we examine closely the plants. The thickness of the layer of fallen needles concerns me. Arbutus plants prefer to grow in shady locations but it seems to me that some light is necessary for the plants to carry out life functions. My inclination is to hand pick the needles from the arbutus. Trusted naturalist Jane has talked of finding arbutus in flower guided only by the flowers' scent. A layer of fallen tree leaves had totally obscured the arbutus from sight. Life function seemed to continue despite the covering but I am certain that once the pine needles have all fallen, I will clear them away from the tops of the arbutus. Being a parent is a difficult never ending job.