Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Madrona, Arbutus Menziesii

Arbutus Menziesii (ar-BYOO-tus menz-ESS-ee-eye) or our Pacific Madrona (aka Madrone) is a majestic tree which flourishes all along the west coast from British Columbia to California. A rather fast growing and drought tolerant evergreen, some tower nearly 50 feet in the outlying perimeter of our garden and they thrive upon the dry rocky slopes, the place to which they seem best suited.

They seem to prefer being left alone. Seeds stratify naturally and freely outdoors and seedlings emerge throughout the garden. Transplanting them is generally unsuccessful, and allowing them to grow in the wild seems to be our preference as well, for they do create a bit of a mess.

Beautiful and fragrant panicles of white bell-like spring blossoms fall to the ground as do the cluster of red berries in late fall, and currently many of the once glossy dark green leaves have turned brown and the earth beneath has been blanketed with a massive carpet.

We admire their year round beauty, and from afar they command my attention this early morning as the suns ray begins its caress upon the rich and warm sienna flesh. The bark peels away with maturity leaving a smooth green surface.

An exciting time of year approaches: the Cedar Waxwings will soon descend upon us as the red berries ripen just in time for there picking.