Thursday, September 05, 2013

New Trees. Madrone and Sourwood.

Madrone Arbutus menziesii
 Yesterday I bought 2 trees.  Each has a commemorative purpose, and each may be a challenge.

The first is a Pacific Madrone . Arbutus menziesii.  Native to Pacific coastal areas, including Pacific Northwest.  I don't see them very often.  They have a Dr. Seuss appearance.  I like the peeling bark, sort of like a Sycamore.  According to most web sites, Madrones can be very difficult to establish.  The reason I'm hopeful for this one is I am thinking it's been in the container for a season and so has some fine roots.  I could be wrong.

I also read that Madrones depend on mycorrhizal fungi.  So I will transfer some soil from other trees, if I don't have any innoculant on hand.  Which I might

I started to regret buying the Madrone, after reading how hard they can be to establish.  But if it grows, it will be a conversation piece and something to be proud of.

I read that Madrones are good bee forage. 

This should be a good time to plant.  Start of rainy season and cooler weather.

Sourwood Oxydendrum arboreum
The second is a Sourwood.  Not native here.  They originate in the US Southeast.  Oxydendrum arboreum is a fairly cmall growing tree, with clusters of flowers that look like Lily of the Valley.  The nectar is considered one of the best for fine honey production, at least in the Southeast.  This tree also may be hard to establish - reportedly likes a soil with a lot of humus, and always moist.  Does not like competition - prefers a well mulched surround.   Sourwoods are described as having brilliant red fall foliage.

So we'll see.  So far I've had good successes.  These sound more challenging.  Other tree species that are said to be difficult to starts, that I managed to establish, so far, include pawpaw and persimmon.  The pawpaws are in their second summer, and the persimmons are finishing their first.

I might have to ask Ning to dig the holes and help me move them.  I tire too easily.  But these will give me something to ponder so are worth the effort.


  1. Anonymous5:25 AM

    Hello! It's your Ridgefield neighbor here. I just had to let you know how struck i am by your post - my husband and i have two Sourwood trees of similar size awaiting planting holes as well! Apparently, Sourwood honey is highly treasured, and very hard to find ...

    I didn't realize the Sourwood was such a persnickety tree. Although the ground is likely much softer from the recent rain, there's supposed to be a bit of a mini heat wave next week, after which it's going to cool considerably. In order to minimize shock, i'll think we'll put off the planting till cooler temperatures prevail.

    The Madrone tree is one i've heard of as well, though i didn't realize the bees favor it. I was under the impression (or perhaps the misimpression) that they like to grow on cliffs! Lacking a proper cliff, i've never considered one. :)

    Thank you, by the way, for your lovely response to my previous comment, and for your consistently pleasing and informative blog.


  2. Thank you neighbor! Please keep me posted about the progress of your sourwood trees! Maybe we'll start a Pacific NW Sourwood Honey varietal!

    Thank you also for the complements. This is a way of visiting the garden without actually going there. Except the blog is less weedy than the actual garden :)