Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A is for arbutus leaves

ABC Wednesday is a meme that interests me and Round number 5 is just beginning today. I thought I'd use it as a focal point for life on Haliburton Hill. So I'll start by focusing on arbutus leaves. We have a gigantic arbutus tree in our front yard, and it's really beautiful with its curling red bark and glossy green leaves. These trees are native to the west coast of North America, growing only within about a mile of the ocean.

They're unique in that they keep their leaves in the winter but drop about half of them every summer. As a child I spent August on one of the gulf islands and I just loved crunching through these leaves. When we moved up here to Haliburton Hill the Arbutus and its leaves was one of the draws for me. I liked the natural look and the sound of the dry leaves on the ground. It made me feel like I was on summer holidays.

Things are a bit different now that we have the new garden out front. The falling arbutus leaves are messy. They take away from the pristine look of gravel paths, dark earth and green grass.

These leaves are a big part of my life right now because I've been spending quite a few hours trying to rake them out of the ground cover.

And it's not easy to do because they're very brittle and they break when you try to rake them.

After struggling with this for a while, I've decided to just wait until they're all down some time in August and then do a big clean up. You can't win against nature except by going with it. Arbutus leaves are my Zen teachers this week.

Check out other ABC Wednesday postings here.


  1. May the arbutus leaves serve as a constant reminder that you are within a mile of the beach!!!

  2. Hey! You found one, too. I didn't know there was a meme for this. Nice that it keeps going around and you can jump in.

    They have arbutus in Ireland...they called them strawberry trees because of the fruit.

  3. I remember a Joni Mitchell song that mentioned being under an arbutus tree, and now I know what one looks like. Good luck with the Zen mind.

  4. I had never heard of the arbutus tree before. Thanks for the informative post

    An Arkies Musings

  5. I do love trees, but the falling leaves are a definite downside, aren't they? We have a chestnut and those huge hand-shaped leaves are a pain. They rot on the lawn if you don't pick them up and they're so big they make bald spots!

    Your tree is lovely though. I'd put up with the leaves for it! :)

  6. This is a beautiful tree...I love the look of the bark...never saw one before...

  7. what a unique tree that is. our neighbor had river birch trees in her yard and they are shedding their leaves already making quite a mess in her yard.

    i see you just finished the outlander. i'm reading it now and enjoying it a lot.

  8. i'm still reading your book list. i loved a girl named zippy! the author grew up in a little town less than 20 miles from where i grew up. she was younger than me and i didn't know her personally but it was fun to read about her life in mooreland, indiana in her book.

  9. As soon as I saw what your A was I knew you were from BC!
    I was on Vancouver Island and in Victoria last summer and my cousin had several on her property. What unsual trees - and great photos!

  10. Thanks to all for your comments.

    Greensboro, you are right. We should count our blessings.

    Stephanie, yes the alphabet thing is a nice jumping off point for posts. (I was inspired by your Sunday Wonders.)

    Jay, you're right-the tree is worth the work.

    Joy, I don't recall that Joni Mitchell song, although I thought I knew them all. (I liked your A post.)

    Ritchies, you'll never see one unless you come to the west coast. (I love your photos of Autumn.)

    Carol, isn't blogging cool the way you keep being introduced to new things (like trees and velvet antlers)?

    Julie, you'll love The Outlander I think. How amazing that you lived near Zippy! Her novels are also very good.

    Beverly, (you probably know this) Arbutus is a Canadian word; in the USA they call them Madrone trees.

  11. Beautiful shots! Love the Arbutus! Lovely colors!

  12. Joanna, thanks for joining in ABC. So interesting to see you are basing this round on your place in the world, just as I am, so it will be really interesting to see the contrasting worlds we portray! We grow plums too. Yes I make chutney but plum wine is awesome.

    Basic Plum Wine Recipe (One gallon recipe)

    I think this recipe looks pretty good and you should be able to use any type of plums. The plums should be good and ripe but not rotten. Good Luck and let me know how it turns out and any changes in the recipe you may have changed.

    3.5 qt. water
    2 lbs sugar or 2 lbs. light honey
    4 lbs. ripe sweet plums or 3 lbs. wild plums
    5 tsp. acid blend (Do not use with wild plums)
    1/8 tsp. tannin
    1 tsp. yeast nutrient
    1 Campden tablet (recommended)
    1/2 tsp. pectic enzyme
    Champagne or Montrachet yeast

    Boil water and sugar/honey. If using honey, skim the scum.
    Wash, stem, and pit the plums. Cut into small pieces saving the juice.
    Put in straining bag in bottom of primary fermenter and mash.
    Pour hot sugar water over fruit and fill up to 1-gallon mark.
    When cooled add acid, tannin, nutrient and Campden tablet. Cover and fit with air lock.
    After 12 hours add the pectic enzyme.
    24 hours later add yeast and stir.
    Remove straining bag after a week.
    When must reaches Specific Gravity of 1.030, rack to secondary fermenter.
    Rack again in 2-3 weeks.
    Rack again in 2-6 months.
    After it ferments out, stabilize with Campden tablets or stabalizer and add 2-6 oz of sugar to sweeten if needed.
    Bottle and age 6-12 months.

  13. I've never seen a tree like that before. Have spent time in BC, but never in Victoria ....

  14. Our leaves start to come down at the end of September - we are in New England, USA. Yours come down early in BC. It is a beautiful tree!


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