Wednesday, December 17, 2014

December Thaw

Our recent weather has not been kind to us or our plants.  Freezing rain falling on frozen ground quickly created a substantial coating of ice.  Trees remained only wet as the wood was not yet frozen. Electric power was uninterrupted but the roads were a nightmare.  More snow fell and soon it looked like winter.  This morning's warm air finally cleared the driveway and most of the snow cover elsewhere is gone.  Ever present clouds keep it gray, wet and depressing outside but a walk about was definitely in order.  Geese are still here and their honks filled the air as they flew north just above the river.

Any walk out of doors of necessity starts near the arbutus transplanted close to the house several years ago.  Temporarily removing the protective wire cage allows this native plant to appear wild and free.  A hungry rabbit was seen nearby and the cage was replaced following a quick look and a picture.  These buds look ready for an early spring opening.  We will not miss that.  The rabbit shall not find food here.

A walk up the lane took me to the arbutus transplanted this year.  They too live under a wire cage.  A larger cage, nestled in a low stone wall, is on the to do list for spring.  Spacing between the small transplants seemed adequate at the time but a natural location under a white pine tree and frequent watering when rainfall was scant resulted in impressive growth.  There is still no sign of new plants from the seed produced here but we expect to see new plants after their seasonal period of cold.

This appearance of wintergreen is totally wild.  Neither purchased plants nor transplants have survived my attempts to help this plant reestablish itself here.  Fallen leaves from the birch tree litter the ground but the wintergreen leaves remain above them and their life process continues without my interference.  That is as it should be.

Cardinal flower is a native plant that grows here only in a garden.  This clump of daughter plants is seriously overcrowded and without division will likely choke itself out.  Six brown stems identify this as a single two year old plant that multiplied to six plants this year.  Next year will see this clump try to support the growth of up to thirty-six overcrowded  plants already vying for space.  The way that cardinal flower multiplies may be a factor in why attempts to reestablish this plant in the wild have failed.  The tenacity of the escaped pasture grasses may simply overpower the slight native making reproduction by seed impossible.  Spring will find a dozen pots of cardinal flower waiting on the stone wall until the weather settles so that they can be planted out.

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