Love it or Hate it- Arbutus Tree?

by Pat
(Denman Island, BC)

I read with interest your account of the Madrone tree...which I also used to love.

When I moved to the West Coast of British Columbia (from Ontario), the Arbutus was an unknown to me. As an avid gardener, the 'new' plants of the West Coast are fascinating, and I thought the Arbutus was, for many of the reasons cited in the previous article, a beautiful and much-desired tree for my property.

I live on Denman Island, between Vancouver Island and the mainland coast. My current abode is waterfront, facing Vancouver Island (west), and as such, provides ideal conditions for the Madrone. My property has several very big, obviously very old, trees, and in the past few years, I've come to know them intimately.

Gradually, I developed a love-hate relationship with these trees, as I discovered their idiosyncrasies: in the spring, they are gorgeous, shiny foliage and developing buds, which burst into delicate white bell bouquets. Then, as the weather warms, one discovers leaf drop on the lawn. At first, I worried that my 'culprit' tree was dying, and raked up the leaves....only to be confronted by another, deeper layer the next morning. I've discovered that this tree practically denudes itself throughout the summer, and my lawn is the recipient of layers of leaves, leaving the property looking very much like one would expect in October!

Not only does this tree provide a significant leaf drop, these leaves are non-compostable!! Something in their chemistry does not allow them to disintegrate--if left on the lawn, they will stay whole for months, while any growth underneath is killed. Additionally, they do not burn well, as a logger friend of mine testified. I do add them to the burn pile, but they leave significantly more ash than one would expect.

So--for those who are considering an Arbutus/Madrone for their property, do check the prevalent wind direction, to ensure that most leaf-drop blows elsewhere, or, preferably, move next door to someone who has the trees, so that you may admire them with out the ownership headaches!!

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May 26, 2015
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Jul 22, 2012
So true NEW
by: Anonymous

A great article and so true, we who live with arbutus definitely have our moments of love/hate with it, but mostly we love it.

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