Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Bird Gifts

While we are on the subject of volunteer plants (see yesterday's post), I'd like to show you another shrub that popped up on its own, this time in a border next to the house.  This is a 6 inch tall specimen of Cotoneaster apiculatus, or Cranberry Cotoneaster, that has seen fit to try to sneak in unnoticed to my landscape.  Compared to my cultivated, nursery-purchased specimens, which are attacked by spider mites and look wretched every year during August, this one is either in a spot more to its liking or it is too small yet to be noticed by the spider mites.  It is green and healthy and proclaiming its right to life, and I think I'm going to transplant it and give it a chance somewhere. 
I always have trouble pronouncing certain species and Cotoneaster is one of them.  Wikipedia tells us the phonetic spelling is  kəˈtoʊniːˈæstər, which is even worse for me than trying to interpret the Latin.  There are symbols there that aren't even English for gosh sakes. I turned, as usual to the excellent Fine Gardening Magazine's pronunciation guide which audibilizes the word for you and which I would say as "Ko-tone-e-aster."  There, now, isn't that simpler?

Because of the uncertain genetics in this volunteer, however, I suppose that I can't assume that it will stay in an expected 3 foot tall by 6 foot diameter space, so I'm trying to find a spot somewhere on the periphery of the garden where it can romp away if it feels a genetic need.  I presume that this one is from a seed spread by a bird, just as the mulberries in my yard must be, and so hopefully it will bear and increase the food available to my flying winter garden inhabitants.  Of course, this bird-sown gift may benefit the bees more, because my larger cotoneaster's are covered in white flowers every spring and the bees flock to them as an early source of nectar.  The birds helping the bees.  There's got to be a metaphor for love in there somewhere.

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