|Although a few of the leaves were turning that same way.|
|Elaeagnus Pungens Maculata, after covering the grass around it.|
I was mildly suspicious about a bunch of caterpillars that I saw in a group several feet away by the fenceline; they most likely had recently crawled out from their little silk tents somewhere nearby, but at the size of them I was worried that they might have already chewed up the leaves of the shrub a bit, though I put that down as unlikely since only a couple looked at all mis-shapen or bitten. I first saw one of them on some grass near the swale back in March, and although it was the largest insect around at the time I didn't think much of it, just taking this picture of it so that I could identify it.
|From this page it looks as if it's either a Fox Moth or a Browntail.|
I later found and read a more detailed page about the shrub on PFAF, 'Elaeagnus x Ebbingei, A Plant for all Reasons', where it said that "The plant is very tolerant of site conditions, the only situation that is a definite no-no is one that becomes waterlogged. It far prefers a well-drained soil, is capable of growing in very poor soils and, once established, is very drought resistant and will succeed in quite dry soils." So I hope that I didn't make a situation worse by giving the plant some more water. I really ought to do a soil test, which I still haven't got around to yet, only knowing that it consists of a few-inches smear of mud over quite a lot of rocks, supporting mostly grass and very little Heather (which prefers acidic soil), but not knowing the clay/sand/peat fraction.
Lastly, I wondered about root shock; upon examining every one of the trees planted, it seemed that they had all spread at least a couple of their buds into small leaves, with the exception of the Ash, Plum tree and the largest Willow cutting that I had taken, the latter two of which also happened to be the trees worst hit by the storm winds that came during the first time I was away since they were planted. I think that injury/damage to the plant roots might have something to do with the weakness of all these plants, however that doesn't explain why the elaeagnus cuttings that I planted straight outside were nowhere near as healthy as the ones inside (but water, soil quality and competition with nearby grass could explain that), the ash might just open its leaf buds quite late though.
|A couple of cuttings indoors.|
|One of the two cuttings outside; they are both in similar shape.|
I can still give native shrubs like Gorse and Broom a try as inter-planted perennial legumes to support the fruit trees, although they wouldn't be anywhere near as useful as elaeagnus x ebbingei with its food crop. I may still be able to get a deciduous fall-fruiting Elaeagnus species, Angustifolia (Oleaster / Russian Olive), to grow here, and I'm interested in whether I can get Siberian Pea Tree to grow here.
Besides that, I've been slowly working my way around the patches that I intend to turn into a series of keyhole beds separating walkways, laying down what bits of cardboard, sacks, old tyres and rocks I have on hand to mulch down the soil for few weeks, before spreading some of the little home-made compost and rotted manure I have access to, on top of the then dead or dying grass, to plant seeds in.
|Using the leftover pegs from plotting out a contour to mark out where keyhole plant-beds will be, then mulching some of those spots down.|
|Some of the first seeds I sowed back at the start of March are only just beginning to germinate.|
|Filling the slots in the swale mound built from chunks of heavy soil.|
|The Rowan tree opening spring leaves.|