Sunday, November 22, 2015

Yet Another Arbutus Post

Our unusually warm November days have drawn us outside focusing on cleanup to get a jump on next year's garden.  Daily walks always include a visit to the arbutus plantings.  Transplanted last year, these plants are closely watched.  Their new flower buds seemed smaller and less healthy than the buds on our older plants.  These pictures were expected to reveal dead flower buds since I was unable to carry water to them during the dry months of August and September.  Once again the camera sees more detail than our old eyes.  These buds may be smaller than the others but they are alive and healthy.  The possibility of a generous flower display here has us looking forward to the end of winter.

Another situation sets these plants apart from our other three plantings.  Numerous chewed leaves here show that many creatures are feeding on these plants.  The leaf that still displays its skeletal structure and lower leaf surface is particularly interesting.  What is the identity of the delicate feeder that left this behind?  These meals were taken earlier in the year when we were not making daily visits.   We did not see the feeders and have no clue as to their identity.  No action will be taken to limit the foraging since this is a wild plant that is supposed to survive on its own.  We do screen out the rabbits and the woodchucks but their numbers are excessive here as this former farm reverts to woodland.

These six plants have had two summers here.  Their close spacing will soon make it impossible to tell where one plant ends and another begins.  As the plants grow across each other, male flowers and female flowers will appear in close proximity to each other.  This was not the plan but it might just work in producing viable seeds.

The mostly mossy patch to the right is the location of a transplant that endured a continuous drip of pine pitch last year.  Leaves coated with the sticky white stuff could not function to support new growth.  This plant remains alive and should in time catch up with the others.  Now the pine drippings are falling on the plant at the top of the photo.  With numerous larger leaves it continues to prosper despite the hardship.

One of our goals is to understand the habits of this plant.  A recent revelation is that flower buds appear at the ends of stems newly grown this year.  We cannot say for certain that buds only form on new growth  but that seems likely.  Roots form at junctions in older stems so we do not disturb the plants by poking around looking for answers to questions that are of no real consequence.  We do enjoy this plant and are eager for the sweet scent that will fill spring air.


Beth @ PlantPostings said...

I wonder if the diners are field mice or voles? I seem to have a few in my garden, and they tend to nibble a bit in addition to tunneling and scampering. Congrats on your success with the Arbutus plants!

Indie said...

Very interesting! I can't wait to see it in flower. Hopefully nothing else nibbles on it!

Justin Hamilton said...

Loved this article. I am actually trying to grow some of these on my own but have not been successful.