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Hackmatack

More commonly known as tamarack (Algonquian for “snowshoe-making wood”), larch, or Larix laricina, this lovely tree is native from slightly south of here all the way up to the tree line in Canada and Alaska. Its favored setting is the bog, precious few of which have survived development and eutrophication. Given full sun, however, it may thrive in many soil types, and makes a nice landscape specimen offering broken summer shade and full winter sun. Larch is a deciduous conifer, one of few (along with bald cypress Taxodium distichum, from further south, and dawn redwood Metasequoia glyptostroboides, discovered in China as a “living fossil” and widely propagated by the Arnold Arboretum) commonly used in landscaping hereabouts.

Tamarack offers many delights, from its graceful upright form and tight needle bundles to the contrast between bluish-green spring color and autumn gold. Shed needles make an excellent mulch and walking surface, and crushed foliage smells pleasant. Most impressive, however, may be the half-inch flowers, which are as bright as yew-berries before ripening to release seed:

 

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One misty, moisty morning

A foggy dawn in the environs of Isabelle’s Island – known to those who have not yet met our grand-daughter as Pincushion Island.

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