Friday, June 5, 2020

New Growth

Perhaps my repeated visits with Trailing Arbutus are becoming tiresome.  This native plant has a long history of resisting transplanting.  A general Google search looking for information on how to move this plant will yield several articles dealing with a European tree that has arbutus in its name.  Then my 2014 post dealing with my successful move of this ground cover will appear.  First in a Google search might be seen as a big deal.  Today we will take a look at just what these plants are up to six years later.

Arbutus is an evergreen plant.  Old leaves are dark green and leathery to the touch.  Just how long these leaves live remains unknown to me.  Dead leaves are rarely seen.  Now that the season of flowering is past, new growth is appearing in impressive quantities.  Reddish hairy stems extend outward for a great distance.  In the center of the picture a side shoot bearing a new leaf can be seen.  The point of junction between the new stem and new leaf is where flower bud clusters will appear later this Fall.

Now that these wild plants have firmly established themselves we mostly leave them alone.  Fallen pine needles remain where they fell since we no longer remove them intending to keep the Arbutus leaves in full daylight.  This natural sight is seriously marred by the wire cage that covers each planting.  These plants would not exist without this protection.  Both woodchucks and rabbits have heavily eaten these plants in the early Spring when other green plant growth is rare.  It is likely that these cages are the reason why my transplants survive when others failed.

Our late Winter weather was brutal this year.  Repeated hard frosts and numbing cold did major damage to many plants.  Arbutus blooms early and is equipped to deal with harsh weather.  Its leaves remain undamaged and the flowers were beautiful but developing seed clusters have been hard to find. That may have been the result of missing pollinators. These female flowers were unfertilized so the plants continued survival depends on the new leaf growth and next year's blossoms.

Only one developing seed cluster was found after a careful search of all four different plantings. In the past seed clusters have appeared earlier.  The two flower remains at the top of the cluster are developing seeds but are days behind the others. In the past seed capsules have appeared much earlier.   We have watched seeds form here for many years but have yet to see a new plant from our seed appear.  The dense growth would make finding a new plant difficult.  Our attempts to grow new plants from harvested seed always ended in failure while reports of greenhouse attempts are successful.  We are at the point in our lives where just enjoying these plants as they grow on their own is a special pleasure.  The promise of those fragrant flowers makes the spring of 2021 something to anticipate.

1 comment:

Indie said...

So good to see your patch growing! I saw some for sale at Garden in the Woods, a native plant garden, a year or so back and thought of you guys. I didn't buy it, as I knew it would likely not survive all my critters. I am surprised that there is not more information out there on it.