Real World Gardener Ivory Curl Tree in Plant of the Week

December 31st, 2020

PLANT OF THE WEEK

Scientific Name: Bickinghamia celsissima
Common Name: Ivory Curl Tree
Family: Proteaceae
Etymology:Buckinghamia....after Richard Grenville, Duke of Buckingham.

celsissima....from Latin celsus, high or lofty, a reference to the habit of the plant in the wild.

Origins: Rainforests of Queensland.
Height: grows to 30 m in natural environment, but 7-8 metres in the home garden. Often used as a street tree.
Flowering: Summer to late Autumn, depending on the location, when the entire crown can be almost entirely covered with spectacular and large (30cm )  racemes of pendant white to cream sweetly perfumed flowers. Often covered in bees happily taking in the nectar and pollen.

BuckinghamiaCelsissimaWs800.jpg


pendant white to cream sweetly perfumed flowers. Often covered in bees happily taking in the nectar and pollen.

Fruit: Wooden follicles that contain several seeds. Fresh seed germinates fairly easily, producing plants that can flower within three years. 
  • You will find that it can be grown throughout most of Australia, including as far south as Melbourne. However Buckinghamia celsissima doesn't do well in Canberra, because it hates frosts, and it won't flower in the humidity and heavy rains of the northern tropics.
  • If left to it's own devices it will go straight up like a telegraph pole and you will miss the spectacle of the flowers.
  • Tip pruning judiciously will give you a shrub as in the picture where the flowers can be observed at close quarters.
  • It can be pruned reasonably hard, but be warned, it will recover slowly.
I'm talking with native plant expert Adrian O'Malley
 

Real World Gardener Willow Myrtle in Plant of the Week

December 31st, 2020

PLANT OF THE WEEK

Scientific Name:Agonis Flexuosa
Agonis_flexuosa_Peppermint_Kings_Park_Perth1.jpg

Common Name: Willow Myrtle/ Peppermint Willow (pictured)

Family: Myrtaceae
Etymology: derived from the Greek word agonos, translated as "without angles," in reference to the drooping branches of some species

flexuous means "bending" or "curvy," referring to the way the branches arch gracefully.

Origins: Native to Western Australia

Height: to 10 metres
Flowering: Late spring-branches are covered in fragrant tiny white flowers.
There are various cultivars available such as Agonis 'After Dark" (pictured) and Agonis 'Jervis Bay, Agonis 'variegata' and Agonis 'Burgundy.'
Also there is a dwarf form Agonis "Nana.'
Another fairly spectacular tree when in flower which although small, there are heaps of them.
The burgundy or dark foliage is a superb contrast to all that green you may have in the garden.
Soil preference is sandy to medium soil, but not clay soils.     
This one's not frost tolerant.
Adrian says you would grow it for the attractive foliage and attracting furrowed bark.
I'm talking with native plant expert Adrian O'Malley

Real World Gardener Blueberry Ash in Plant of the Week

December 31st, 2020

 PLANT OF THE WEEK : 

Blueberry Ash

 

Common Name:Blueberry Ash
Scientific name: Eleaocarpus reticulatus
Family:Elaeocarpacea
Etymology:Elaeocarpus - From the Greek elaia meaning 'olive' and karpos meaning 'fruit';
reticulatus - Latin word meaning 'net-like' referring to the leaf venation.
Tree Height: 6-15m (various cultivars Prima Donna 8-10m)
Flowering:April - October
Origin: Australian rainforests along the east coast.

This is a beautiful tree with sculptural leathery leaves that show off a 'bloom' much like you see on some eucalypt leaves. 
Leaves are medium sized (12cm) with a drip tip apex and serrated edges. 
Starting off as mid to dark green the leaves age to a bright red which contrasts well, being opposite on the colour wheel.
The flowers are also quite a feature resembling clutches of lily of the valley flowers in either pink or cream all over the tree.

Blueberry_Ash_-_Elaeocarpus_reticulatus.jpg
The fruits are small blue berries, hence the common name. The fruits are liked by many birds including currawongs, parrots, cockatoos and native pigeons.
Fruits can persist on the tree until the next flowering.

Although the height can grow to 15m you can keep it to as small a height as you would like even 2-3m if preferred.
  • Adrian says they shed foliage 12 months of the years so don't plant them near your gutters.
I'm talking with Adrian O'Malley, native plant expert.

Real World Gardener Creating A Sense of Enclosure in Design Elements

August 6th, 2020

DESIGN ELEMENTS

How to Create a Sense of Enclosure.
In the middle of winter, the only sun you can see may be outside.
So it would be nice to venture outdoors into the winter sun but what if you're overlooked?
 May not feel so welcoming.
So what can you do? 

Teddy%2Bbear%2Bmagnolia.jpg
Magnolia grandiflora 'Teddy Bear.' 4-5m height (pictured)
 
I talk with garden designer Peter Nixon of Paradisus Garden Design.
 
 
What you want is some sort of screening hedge or planting that not only hides that fence, but hides it well enough so you don't see any fence.
That would mean you need that the 'bole length' or the gap between ground level and the first branch, is at a minimum.
So what can you choose?
Here are Peter's best tips:
  • Choose things that stay dense and non transparent from the ground.
  • Choose useful heights, especially if it's the northern boundary because you don't want to cut the winter sun.
Recommended plants

Michelia%2BFairy%2BCream.jpg
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Magnolia hybrid "Fairy." ht 3m
Heliconia 'Hot Rio Nights.' for northern sub-tropical zones.(norther rivers and up). height 3m, lush paddle leaf.

Hibiscus boryanus- plant in areas where temperatures are above 5 Deg C
Drepanostachyus falcatum -Blue Bamboo is a clumping bamboo height 4m
 
You can underplant with smaller shrubs but you need to do this at the same time as you plant the larger shrubs otherwise the soil underneath will be compacted with the roots.

Real World Gardener Privacy With Container Plants in Plant Doctor

May 1st, 2020

PLANT DOCTOR

Plants for Privacy in a Container

What do you do if you want a plant for privacy but there’s either not enough soil in that location or you’re in an apartment? 
I’ve talked about big trees in pots with horticulturist, Adrian O’Malley from Plant of the Week, before, but it doesn’t have to be just about trees for privacy. 
So what can it be? 
Let’s find out . 

I'm talking with Steve Falcioni from www.ecoorganicgarden.com.au 
PLAY: Plants for Privacy in pots_15th April 2020 
Choose as large a pot/container as you can accommodate in the spot where you want to achieve some privacy.
For my Magnolia 'Little Gem,' I have a 60cm terracotta round pot.
The disadvantage with round terracotta or ceramic pots, is that they can be bowled over in strong winds.
Mine has a large crack down one side having been blown to the ground numerous times during strong winds.

Magnolia%2BLittle%2BGem%2Bin%2Bcontainer
Magnolia Little Gem surround by orchids. 
Cracked terracotta pot after being knocked over in strong winds.
There is of course the problem of replacing the soil which over a few years, will slump.

Rejuvenating Your Large Potted Plant

  • TIP: employ help to push the container gently to the side then ease out the tree or large shrub.
  • Use this opportunity to give the plant a root prune, about 10% all over.
  • Replace any loose soil with good quality potting mix and only a couple of handfuls of compost, whether homemade or store bought.
If you really want a sure fire winner, then choose Murraya paniculata or commonly called Murraya, for your screening option. 
Yes, I know it’s pretty common, but that’s a good choice if you’re prone to forgetting to prune it. 
A lesser known and somewhat handsome plant that Steve mentioned is Radermachera “Summer Scent.” 
Originating from Southern China, Summerscent has lush, glossy, compact foliage. 
Best of all this plant has clusters of white to pale pink scented flowers that flower profusely throughout the warmer months. 
A perfect plant for hedging or screens as it responds well to pruning and adds a tropical feel to the garden. 
Summerscent grows well in full sun and shade as well as indoors if kept in a well lit position. 
If you have any questions of course, why not email realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

Real World Gardener Tree Assessment How To’s in Design Elements

May 1st, 2020

DESIGN ELEMENTS 

Assessing Trees for Failure ( following on from blog on "Why Trees Fail"
 https://realworldgardener.blogspot.com/2020/04/why-trees-fail-and-celery.html

Trees are so beneficial in a garden that I can’t imagine having a garden without them. 
For me they provide, an element of height, but often the ones I choose have flowers with sumptuous scent, and in summer, they provide much needed shade.

1-DSC_0001.JPG
Arbutus unedo: Strawberry Tree photo: M Cannon

But how to prevent them from failing is the question in this week’s segment. 
Let’s find out . 
I'm talking with Glenice Buck, consulting arborist and landscape designer  

www.glenicebuckdesigns.com.au 
PLAY: Assessing Why Trees Fall_1st April 2020 

Trees fall from time to time and believe it or not, sometimes it’s not predictable, and sometimes it is. 
Glenice says "it's totally impossible to predict if and when a tree will fail"

 BUT you can seek professional advice from a consulting arborist to relieve any worry that you have about that particular tree. 
1-STO_0906.JPG
Champion tree in Stowe, England.
  • The consulting arborist can make recommendation as to how to mitigate and potential problems.

Remember, a tree expert will cut out limbs correctly if they need cutting so the tree will be less likely to get insect attack or decay forming. 
Consideration is given to remaining trees, if one needs to be taken out because it exposes them to more natural elements such as wind and changes in hydrology of the soil.

  • Trees will overtime adapt if they lose a surrounding buffer.
A qualified arborist will use methods as outlined by QTRA and TRAQ are methods of tree risk assessment.
QTRA-Quantitive Tree Risk Assessment
TRAQ-Tree Risk Assessment Qualification.
From the www.treenet.org site

"The terms ‘hazard’ and ‘risk are not interchangeable.... A tree-failure hazard is present when a tree has potential to cause harm to people or property.  ‘Risk’ is the probability of something adverse happening; the likelihood that the hazard will cause harm.

Assessment of tree-failure hazards requires consideration of the mechanical integrity of the tree and the likelihood that the tree or part of it will fail within a given period."

If you have any questions of course, why not email realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

 

Real World Gardener Black Bean Tree in Plant of the Week

April 8th, 2020

PLANT OF THE WEEK

Common Name: Black Bean Tree: 
Scientific name: Castanospermum australe
Family: Fabaceae
Native distribution: east coast of Australia in Queensland and New South Wales, and to the Pacific islands of Vanuatu, New Caledonia
Over the last few weeks in this segment, we’ve been talking about big, big trees, and today’s offering is no exception, but perhaps not as big as the Kauri Pine. 
This tree, although very range with amazing huge boat like seed pods, is in the same family as peas, beans and broadbeans.

800px-Castanospermum_australe_-_Moreton_
Castanospermum australe

The Black Bean tree makes an interesting pot specimen. 

Lovely red and yellow pea like flowers, typical of the legume family.
I'm talking with Adrian O”Malley, horticulturist and native plant expert. 
So let’s find out more. 

PLAY: Castanospermum austral_18th March 2020 

  • Black bean tree is an attractive Australian rainforest tree with dark glossy leaves and masses of yellow and red flowers during summer. 
  • Flowers attract lorikeets and other nectar feeders.
Sometimes used as street trees as long as they’re not under power lines. 
DO NOT plant in the garden, because it has invasive roots.
Certainly bird attracting when in flower and has a spreading canopy when it matures. 
If you want to grow it from the large bean like seed, sow the seed so that half of it is inserted into the seed raising mix.

Castanospermum%2Baustrale.jpg
Attractive pea like flowers of Castanospermum australe
Sometimes sold as a novelty plant with 6-10 seeds in a small pot, sort of like a bonsai plant but with many stems.
Unless you have a large garden, we recommend that you can plant this one successfully in a pot for many years. 
  • The beans of Castanospermum austral or black bean tree or toxic to everyone. 
Sydney Botanic gardens have a couple of these trees and various suburbs such as Hunters Hill, have the occasional Black Bean tree as a street tree.
seed-pods-castanospermum%2Baustrale.jpg
seed pods of Black Bean tree.
 

If you have any questions either for me or for Adrian, why not write in to realworldgardener@gmail.com

Real World Gardener Why Trees Fail in Design Elements

April 3rd, 2020

DESIGN ELEMENTS

Why Trees Fail/Fall?

When a large, mature falls in your garden, it can be very disheartening, especially if it’s a special or favourite tree.

Glenice%2527s%2BKurrajong.jpg
Kurrajong tree photo Glenice Buck

You may be left wondering what happened to cause it to fail after 20 or 30 years. 

Sometimes it’s obvious why a tree may fall in your garden, but what are the underlying factors? 
I'm talking with Glenice Buck, consulting arborist and landscape designer. 

www.glenicebuckdesigns.com.au 
Let’s find out . 

PLAY: Why Trees Fall_25th March 2020 
There are many reasons why trees fail or fall.

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  • Trees need to be growing in well drained soil. 
  • If the soil holds onto too much moisture, this results in no oxygen in the soil, leading to tree roots rotting, making the tree unstable.
Trees will also fail or fall over in extreme weather events if they're susceptible.
Heavy rain inundation together with strong winds undermine the soil that the tree is growing in, particularly if the soil is shallow.
Glenice talks about the force of the wind, where the canopy of the tree acts like a lever, causing it to topple.
Sometimes the tree can be rescued by giving it a hard prune and winching it up, but that is the exception rather than the rule. 
  • Trees not planted correctly is another factor.
  • The planting hole needs to be wide enough so there there is enough room for the roots to spread . The hole should have more of vase shape, and loosen the soil so there is no soil 'glazing.'
  • Don't plant the tree too low in the ground.
  • If the tree is planted into a tight narrow space, not giving it enough room for the roots to develop to support the canopy.
If you want to know more or if you have any questions about why trees, fail, next week’s episode is about assessing trees for failure with Glenice. 

If you have any questions of course, why not email realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

 

Real World Gardener Australian Kauri Pine in Plant of the Week

March 28th, 2020

PLANT OF THE WEEK

Kauri Pine: Agathis robusta-an Australian native

Over the last few weeks in this segment, we’ve been talking about big, big trees, and today’s offering is no exception. 

Kauri pine, like it's name states, is a conifer in the Araucariaceae family.
Also considered a dinosaur tree because it evolved millions of years ago when Australia was largely subtropical all over and not just in Queensland.

Kauri%2BPine.jpg
Kauri pine: Agathis robusta

So let’s find out more. 
I'm talking with Adrian O”Malley, horticulturist and native plant expert. 
PLAY: Agathis Robusta_11th March 2020 

Big trees in pots: 
  • The Kauri pine is quite happy in pots if you have limited space.
  • Just need to be root pruned every couple of years, but no more than 10% all round.
Being an ancient conifer it comes from an era when the world was much wetter and rainforest covered all of Australia.
The tree has  big wide, leathery leaves with parallel veins. Leaves are in opposite pairs and 5-12cm long. The bark is smoothish, grey or a sort of grey brown.

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Leaves of kauri pine, no mid-rib.
The lower part of the trunk is free of branches, having dropped off as it grows.
The pine cones come in to shapes. Male cones are long and narrow, but female cones are rounded, 8-13cm in diameter.

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Agathis robuasta female cones

  • The Queensland Kauri is a little known but magnificent specimen, that dates back to the mid-Jurassic period.

Agathis or Qld Kauri can live for centuries, but did you know that they were logged for their straight timber too much so by 1922, the Forestry Branch reported: ‘Of kauri pine the southern resource is utterly gone.’ 

The wood was used to cabinetry, floorboards, kitchen sinks, and boat building during the 1920's and 30's. 
  • Geelong Botanic Gardens have an avenue of Kauri pine trees planted around the 1860's.
  • Sydney Botanic gardens have one large specimen not far from the kiosk and close to the giant Dragon's Blood tree.

If you want to hug these large mature trees, you'll find that the girth is massive and it's more likely that 4-5 people with arms outstretched might make it being 150cm or so in circumference.

If you have any questions either for me or for Adrian, why not write in to realworldgardener@gmail.com

Real World Gardener Silky Oak is Plant of the Week

March 27th, 2020

PLANT OF THE WEEK

Silky Oak: Grevillea robusta

Here’s a semi-deciduous grevillea, that can grow into a big tree. Flowering at the same time as Jacarandas and just as spectacular. 
When you see one, you don't think the Silky Oak as being a large tree. But here it is.

A bit messy, semi-deciduous, losing a lot of leaves from time to time. 
Grevilleas like this one are nectar rich, loved by the lorikeets. 

Grevillea_robusta_leaves_and_flowers_1.j

Apart from that drawback, the leaves are attractive with the added bonus is that the flowers are attractive to birds that come from all around the district to have a feast on the nectar of the flowers. 
So let’s find out more. 
I'm talking with Adrian O”Malley, horticulturist and native plant expert. 
PLAY:Silky Oak_4th March 2020 2020 

Silky%2BOak%2Btree.jpgThe silky oak flowers at the same time as Brachychiton querquifolia and Jacaranda mimosifolia, and there are some large gardens that have those big three. 
  • Brachychiton has the striking red flowers, contrasting with the purple of the Jacaranda and the golden yellow of the silky oak. 
So much nectar that on hot days, the nectar ferments, so the birds become intoxicated when sipping on the nectar, and become quite territorial.
When growing in pots, they take on the classical conifer type shape.
Remember Adrian's maxim, "spend a penny on the pot and a pound on the soil."
Very impressive to look at. 
The timber has a marbling dotty effect and is quite rot resistant should you come across this scarce resource.
The timber used to be used for frames around windows.
If you have any questions either for me or for Adrian, why not write in to realworldgardener@gmail.com

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