Category Archive: Trees

For the love of trees.

We often take trees for granted – they are just there.

This was  a scene portrayed to me on ABC TV show Lateline tonight:

Imagine  that you go for your evening walk, some of you with a dog, and all of a sudden there are no trees and no shade.

This is what happened recently in Sydney when Moreton Bay Fig trees, some aged more than 130 years old, along Anzac Parade were chopped down for a light-rail project.

It appears corruption may have been involved when the light rail was moved across the road because of a large commercial development approved on the original side of the road for the project.

The local residents are very upset, understandably so. There is not much they can do because there are ‘special’ powers the state government has on these large ‘special’ projects.

Watching this made me very sad. The residents involved were showing genuine remorse. People love their trees and have memories of them dating back to their childhood.

Have you ever gone back to see a tree you once planted – it is quite a liberating experience.

So these trees that were planted in about 1880 are gone. They are planting many more to replace them, but are they really replaceable? Does it really make sense?

Historic photo, dated from 1914, shows fig trees lining Anzac Parade, Moore Park as troops march on their way to board war ships at Circular Quay.

Is this really progress ? Are we smart ? Photo by Daniel Munoz

Cup Day at the Royal Botanic Gardens.

By James Wall.

What do you tell your children on your day off that you want to walk around the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne ?

You tell them we are going on a photographic assignment of course. One child gets the camera for half an hour and then the other child gets its for the next half an hour. When we get home, we have a slide show and see just what sort of pictures we have taken.

Yep, they liked the idea, so before they could change there mind we were in the car and on our way.

The weather was perfect and it was mid morning so there was still parking. The gardens had a real buzz about it. It reminded me of the first spring day at Central Park in New York. People were just bursting with energy to get out there. With Melbourne Cup on, there were somewhat annoying helicopters buzzing about the air like giant blow flies, but even these could not destroy the subtle euphoria that was in the air. It was a day to bump into an old friend out of the blue. It was a day to appreciate nature.

At some stage during the photography, a kids flick of the camera dial accidentally took 4 photos of everything, but with 3 of the photos being altered with special effects. I guess some of the greatest human creations were made by accident. Below are some of the results to our day out at the Botanic Gardens.

By the way, the cafe was excellent, the kids area was rocking with little boats running down the creek, the trees were ever majestic, so if you haven’t been to this wonderful place in a while, like I hadn’t, make sure you get down there soon – cause photos can never tell the full story.



Winter pruning of an espaliered apple tree.

By Kevin Mankey – Espalier tree pruning July 2015.

I remember reading in a gardening book years ago a quote saying that eventually every serious gardener will attempt to espalier a fruit tree. Put simply, espalier is the discipline of training and pruning a tree into a single-planed shape such as a fence line or similar structure.

This year I have attempted to document the winter pruning of my espaliered apple to help explain some of the pruning techniques involved. This apple is a Gala variety, and I have been training it as an espalier for about eight years. The techniques explained here would be the same for any variety of pomme fruit ie. apples, pears, quinces etc.

Picture No. 1 shows the tree prior to pruning. Note the upright growing “whips” which are the current seasons’ growth. The objective is to reduce the length of these whips to just a few centimetres so that growth can continue in a controlled manner and the tree can re-direct its energy into fruit production.

Pictures 2 and 3 show a busy cluster of whips before and after pruning, showing a simplified version with the strongest upright leader retained.

Picture No. 4 below shows the ideal spacing between fruiting spurs. This is generally about 10cm or approximately a hands’ width.

Fruiting spurs are different from normal growth branches and appear to have a swollen claw-like appearance as seen in picture No 5 below. We want to encourage the development of fruiting spurs while controlling the vigorous upright whip growths.

Picture No. 6 below shows how we prune a whip at about three centimetres in length. The pruning cuts are done about 1cm above a bud on a 45 degree angle sloping back away from the bud. This is to direct rainwater droplets away from the developing bud like the slope of a roof sheds water. Picture No 7 below shows the finished job. The shortened whips will sprout from the top-most buds during their spring growth spurt whilst the fruiting spurs will blossom in spring and carry clusters of fruit over the summer months. One of the benefits of espaliered fruit trees is that they can easily be netted to protect fruit from birds and possums.

As you can see, this espaliered apple will create a living dividing wall between my vegetable garden and my outdoor living area. I will post some pictures of the results as the season progresses.

Gardenworld goes yarn bombing

The call came out from Eastland Shopping Centre in Ringwood. Find us some trees to yarn bomb. If you don’t know what yarn bombing is, its when some fanatical knitters, crocheters, stitchers and quilters get together and cover everyday objects with yarn.

It was not easy to find a tree with a reasonably thick trunk, yet still able to be wheeled through a door way. We managed to find four lovely Ficus macrophylla from one of our growers. Of course you would know these trees as Moreton Bay Figs. That’s right, those massive trees you see in parks that are decades old. In fact I remember my last trip to Sydney when I saw the giant fig at Government House. It’s around 169 years old !

Moreton Bay Fig

Moreton Bay Fig planted circa 1845

But back to the yarn bombing. The Eastland Park is a combined project, by local knitters from Domain Gracedale, Waldtreas Village Aged Care Facility, Wyreena Arts Centre, BUPA Aged Care Croydon and The Yarn Corner.

It is on at Eastland Shopping Centre from now until the 15th June. There is a list of activities for adults and kids on their website here.

Now you might think Ringwood is a long way from Gardenworld, but not any more. Driving the Eastlink Freeway, I get from Gardenworld to Eastland in about 20 minutes. The traffic is usually free flowing. For anyone in Ringwood’s surrounds you can get to Gardenworld in the same time, but you’ll have a different type of yarn when you get there. We’d love to see you !

If anyone wants to buy one of these magnificent 5 year old Moreton Bay Figs, they are available for $495 including Melbourne Metro delivery, but only while the 4 trees last, and only if you have a very big backyard.



An alternative late autumn food garden.

We have a rare fruit expert that works at the nursery on Saturdays. His name is Dennis and here are a few snaps of his autumn garden following on from the summer, spring and winter blogs.

It is amazing what you can grow successfully in a suburban garden in Melbourne despite the hot and dry weather we have had this summer and autumn stressing both plants and people. As I write this after a dry summer and autumn I had over 100 mm dumped over night here on May 31 / June 1!!!!!

Tamarillo or tree tomato

The first stop is the tamarillo which was the feature in the winter blog. The final crop last winter was over 200 fruits from the one tree and this year the crop is going to be the a bit smaller around 150 but the fruit larger due to a heavy spring pruning as the fruit can become smaller the weaker the branches are and the further out the fruit are hanging. They are colouring up nicely from green to red now before hanging in the tree like Christmas decorations. I have a new tamarillo recipe book to use the crop in many ways.

Persimmon Fuyu

The espaliered ‘Fuyu’ persimmon tree has held on to a good crop of fruit and they have just been picked. This is such a great tree for the home garden as the leaves colour up beautifully every year and are more reliable than Japanese maples in this way. Also no codling moth or other nasties to deal with. But be patient as it is not a fast grower.

White Sapote

The white sapote are nearly there although late this year so how do you tell they are getting ripe? You could ask the same thing about avocados too? With white sapotes a shine develops on the fruit which means it is ready to pick and bring inside where it will soften after a week.


The macadamias are progressing as expected and now about pea size. They mature much later down here than in northern NSW / south east QLD but my opinion is the longer time allows for slower oil and sugar accumulation so the nuts taste better when grown here!!!!!


The Feijoas have finally started to fall this year as it is usually early May and do not need to be picked – too easy. Being hard they do not bruise but when taken inside soften up to be eaten with a spoon. Make sure you buy a grafted tree of a ‘named’ variety like ‘Mammoth’, ‘White Goose’ etc which will reward you with large egg shaped fruit in two to three years time unlike seeding trees which take much longer and may not produce good fruit.

I love the dwarf ‘Japanese Seedless’ and ‘Satuma Okitsuwase Seedless’ mandarins I have growing in 300 mm pots. Have been eating them for over a month now and the flavour is so much superior to an ‘Imperial’ mandarin from the shops. More importantly even in a pot dwarf trees produce full sized fruits. Others dwarfs I have in similar sized pots include ‘Eureka Lemon’, ‘Meyer’ lemon’, ‘Tahitian’ lime, kumquat etc. which are all starting to colour up.


It is late May and the stone fruit ‘Mariposa Plum’ and interspecific hybrids have not lost their leaves yet and are totally green. I need to force dormancy by removing the leaves now otherwise in

Plums still with leaves

my opinion spring flowering will be affected.


Finally I will be experimenting with my sub-tropical tree ‘pod’ this winter and putting my potted sub-tropical trees in close proximity for mutual shelter. These include: mango (indoors last winter but see how it goes this year outside but may need to bring indoors again), avocados, acerola cherry, coffee, curry leaf tree etc. The idea is on nights expected to drop below 5 c to create a tent which will cover the trees and drain the cold air away. I will let you know how I get on in spring. More importantly if heavy rain is expected in the cold months is to cover the potting mix in the pots with plastic to avoid water-logging.

Communal winter grouping in the 'pod'

Gardenworld currently has good stocks of many sub-tropical and exotic fruit trees so come in and see what is available or speak to Dennis on Saturday’s for further information on which may be suitable for your garden.

The flame tree that blinded a weary driver.

By James Wall.

The other day I was driving down Wattletree Road in East Malvern when I glanced across to Central park….

There was a tree so vivid, that it almost blinded me. It was at its absolute peak of colour. So much so, I had to stop and take these photos.

 Illawarra Flame TreeThe tree of course is a Brachychiton acerifolius, commonly known as the Illawarra Flame Tree. It is native to those subtropical regions between the Great Dividing Range and the sea, along the east coast of Australia. It occurs from Cape York in northern Queensland down to the Shoalhaven region around Wollongong, south of Sydney.

Illawarra Flame TreeThese trees are semi deciduous and like this specimen, tend to drop them when they flower.

Illawarra Flame Tree

This one looks about 12 metres tall which is typical of a mature tree, although I hear of ones up north that are much bigger.

As I continued home, the Cold Chisel song, “Flame Trees” suddenly popped into my head, and the joyous singing began. Fortunately for the rest of the world, I had my windows up.


UPDATE:  Very soon we will have some Brachychiton populneus x acerifolius. These are more compact (8 metres) and are pinker in flower. They would be a perfect school tree as it is much less likely to drop branches than a gum tree. Here is a picture of one we planted at Gardenworld about 12 months ago. We bought it at about 1.5 metres high. Let us no if you would like one, as these will sell out.

Brachychiton populneus x acerifolias

Brachychiton populneus x acerifolias

Iconic gum tree of the Australian alps.

snow gum colours

By James Wall

After visiting Mount Hotham last week I was amazed by the resilience and beauty of this iconic Australian tree.

We know it as a snow gum or Eucalyptus paucifolia. I always remembered it as having a creamy white trunk, but then that may have been in summer. I haven’t been in the alps in winter for over 20 years.

Eucalyptus paucifoliaThe colour of the smooth trunk  includes rich streaks of greys,  lemon yellows, scoria reds and rich creamy whites. As the snow was quite heavy, I spent many hours staring out at them from the protection of a warm lodge. And I am sure in summer when it flowers there is more richness in colour and that the white flowers look like snowflakes, again cementing the aptness of its name.

snowgum two trunksNot only did these trees withstand about 20cm of fresh snow while we were there; the next night we got 120 km per hour winds belting up the valley. Factor in numerous frosts, minus degree days and you can start to imagine this is one tough tree. With a mountain so devoid of plants (as it has turned into a ski resort) this is one place where these copses probably help prevent erosion.

snow covered gumI was told on the nearby mountains that bushfires had defoliated many specimens but that re-shooting was taking place at the base of the trees. This thing just refuses to be defeated. Another survival mechanism that I noticed was that the branches with new growth were too soft to hold the snow and therefore were bare of snow the next morning while other tougher sections were still covered with it.

snow covered gumsLinks:The Snow Gum poem by Douglas Stewart

We heard that in summer there are some great walks around here with beautiful alpine wildflowers. On searching the web I found this beautifully presented website called Photodiary of a Nomad who had been trekking around Mount Hotham in summer. There are some great photos of the wildflowers.

I also found this classic poem The Snow-gum  from the 1950’s by poet Douglas Stewart from his book The Birdsville Track and other poems. It obiously had nothing to do with the birdsville track but was one of the “other” poems.

 Available at the nursery:

snowgum plants available at gardenworld

At the nursery we have the eucalyptus paucifolia in a 14cm pot (left in the picture).

We also have as pictured on the right an Edna Walling Little Snowman which claims it is a smaller form. The trees I saw looked like they would get between 5 and 10 metres, but we also saw some much bigger and older specimens. I would say this plants seeds were selected from one of the smaller trees.

Also keep in mind, with conditions not as harsh in Melbourne, the tree may grow better. You could also prune early lower branches to create a more definite trunk at the base.

However you grow it, your are sure to enjoy this iconic Australian tree.


National Tree Day – Sunday 29th July

National Tree DayIf you are not doing much this Sunday, this is a great activity to get the kids off their computer games and interacting with nature. You can join a Council organised community planting, or even plant one in your garden at home.

Last year on this day over 1 million trees and shrubs were planted across Australia.

In May 2012, Planet Ark developed a report, sponsored by Toyota Australia, focusing on the benefits of interaction with nature for children’s health, wellbeing and development. The report, Planting Trees: Just What The Doctor Ordered, builds on a 2011 study commissioned by Planet Ark that showed a dramatic and worrying shift in childhood activity in Australia from outdoor play to indoor activity in the space of one generation.

“Childhood is a time of rapid physical, mental and emotional development. Time spent in nature provides a diversity of sounds, sights, smells and textures, and a variety of plants, animals and landscapes that children can engage with. This mental and sensory stimulation is important in human developmental processes.” From Planting Trees: Just What the Doctor Ordered.

National Tree Day

To download this report, go to the planet ark website, where you can also find out about you local family tree day – get involved !

We did a search on the website and found man of the planting activities within 17 km from Gardenworld. They are listed below:

29-Jul-2012 City Of Kingston Council Any Mordialloc Vic This project is to continue the vegetation corridor along the creek to provide habitat for birds, reptiles, insects and small mammals View details 0.6
28-Jul-2012 Parks Victoria – Braeside Any Braeside Vic National tree day will focus on planting species which wil lcreate a greater biodiveristy of the parkland area. View details 3.8
29-Jul-2012 City of Greater Dandenong Any Dandenong Vic planting low wetland species to increase and improve bird and frog habitat. View details 6.1
01-Sep-2012 City of Greater Dandenong Any Dandenong Vic Improving the local flora and fauna reserve by planting in an area that has been cleared of weeds and needs understorey planted to improve lizard habitat. View details 6.8
29-Jul-2012 Clarinda Lions Club Any Heatherton Vic Clarinda Lions Club is hosting a National Tree Day activity at Karkarook Park in Heatherton. This is an important park in the area that we have been revegetating for several years now in conjunction with Parks Victoria. We are serving a free BBQ at the end of the morning’s planting and would love to see you there….on top of the hill in the Dragonfly shelter. View details 7
29-Jul-2012 Parks Victoria – Karkarook Any Moorabbin Vic Planting will focus on building on the great work undertaken in previuos years to revegetate the park. This year further plantings will help to create a biodiverse site which will help attract a variety of animals and birds to the site. View details 7
29-Jul-2012 City Of Kingston Council Any Bonbeach Vic Restoration of sand dunes on foreshore reserve. View details 7.3
29-Jul-2012 City Of Kingston Council Any Carrum Vic Planting a range of native plants to help develop the habitat link between Roy Dore reserve and Eel Race Drain. View details 8.8
28-Jul-2012 Carrum Indigenous Nursery Any Patterson Lakes Vic Carrum Indigenous Nursery is hosting an Open Day on Saturday 28th July 2012 from 11am – 4pm to celebrate this year’s National Tree Day. We will be running guided tours of the site, demonstrations of processes and hope to attract new volunteers. As a special for Tree Day we will be giving away free tube stock to visitors to the nursery. Please note: It is unlikely we will have any planting activities on the day as access to our project site is currently under water. View details 9
28-Jul-2012 Kingston City Council Any Carrum Vic Please join Kingston Interfaith Network in the rehabilitation of the sand dunes at Carrum foreshore. The aim of the day is to plant indigenous native species of the area. Planting indigenous native species offers habitat to native birds and animals, and helps to reduce the greenhouse effect. View details 9.2
29-Jul-2012 Frankston City Council Any Seaford Vic The area to be planted has important conservation value, with existing high quality spinifex and other native grasses. However, parts of the area are very bare at the moment, with a large amount of vegetation being lost due to exposed position, wind and previously the drought. The last two years we planted lots of native grasses, shrubs and ground covers to stablise the dunes and create habitat for native animals. This year we will continue the good work with more of the same. It is a beautiful… View details 9.3
11-Aug-2012 City of Greater Dandenong Any Dandenong Vic Planting native plants to soften landscape and improve habitat values of the Dandenong Creek. View details 10
29-Jul-2012 Citywide Service Solutions Any SANDRINGHAM Vic The site was covered in ‘Boxthorn’ that has been removed for revegetation with indigenous plant stock collected from the local area. View details 10.4
05-Aug-2012 City of Greater Dandenong Any Dandenong Vic Planting understorey plants to increase and improve the habitat values. View details 12.8
29-Jul-2012 City of Monash Any Mt Waverley Vic Revegetation of Scotchmans Creek corridor. Sausage Sizzle provided for volunteers. View details 13.4
29-Jul-2012 FRIENDS OF DAMPER CREEK RESERVE INC. Any MOUNT WAVERLEY Vic Understorey planting to control erosion on the banks of Damper Creek. View details 14.8
29-Jul-2012 Friends of Frog Hollow Any Hallam Vic This planting event is part of the ongoing re-vegetation work that we are doing in the area. To date we have planted more than 60,000 native trees, shrubs, and grasses to restore habitat. View details 15.3
29-Jul-2012 Frankston Beach Association Inc Any Frankston Vic Strengthening of dune planting to help stabilize dunes against erosion.Create a diverse ecosystem View details 15.5
29-Jul-2012 City of Port Phillip Any Elwood Vic Aiming to increase the plant biodiversity and carry out bush regeneration in the local area. This should result in an increase of local native species and better support and increase the habitat of the local wildlife. View details 16.5
29-Jul-2012 Friends of Gardiners Creek Valley Environmental Group Any GLEN IRIS Vic Revegetating indigenous species adjacent to the banks of Gardiners Creek, Glen Iris. View details 17.1


Acacia baileyana flowering now.

First published at Gardeners Notebook by  Bonnie Marie Hibbs

I was out in the garden and something yellow caught my eye.  I discovered one of my Acacia baileyana, (common name Cootamundra Wattle), in flower.  Estimating; I believe my tree is to a height of 4 meters tall and has a width of 3 meters. (Acacia’s are amongst the FABACEAE family, which is also made up of three sub-families.)

Acacia baileyana

The foliage has what I call an ash green or even a silver blue colouring and pinnate leaves. The bark is smooth and dark brown, with a trunk diameter of 20cm.


Now, the most eye-catching, beautiful and magical thing about this tree is its inflorescent yellow flower chains. Globular flowers make up these impressive clusters of yellow. The flowers almost resemble a pom-pom with the amount of showy stamens, and only reach a length of 8mm in size.


If you are on the lookout for these trees they are usually found in the natural bushland and sometimes in nature reserves, or in your own backyard.


Acacia baileyanaAcacia baileyanaAcacia baileyana


A Melbourne Garden in August

We got some new bulbs in last week. These varieties are summer flowering and include the uncool gladioli. I say uncool, because of course Dame Edna Everidge used to grow them in Moonee Ponds – how uncool! Smiles come to mind remembering her cuddling a big bunch like it was a baby. My wife actually grew some last year in a terracotta bowl and did they stand proud with lipstick red flowers. We found them quite easy to grow, and most rewarding.

Other available bulbs and tubers include Canna lilies, alstromeria, bearded iris, asiatic lilies and peonies. There are also Jerusalem artichokes which are nothing like globe artichokes. They have a sunflower like flower and form a tuber, which can be harvested and cooked. They are selling well since Billy on Masterchef had to cook with them during the New York week. He had to slice them into little chips, deep fry and then poke them into the top of soup.

If you haven’t got strawberries in, now is the time. If you plant them later, you don’t get as much foliage growth which means less fruit. GardenWorld is pleased to announce that we have secured an exclusive variety from Sunnyridge Strawberry Farm in Red Hill. These will be the tastiest strawberries you have ever grown. Plant in pots or garden beds, and when they finish fruiting, next winter cut them back and they will go again for another season.

If you only do the vegie patch for the spring season, start weeding now. Dig the beds over to get oxygen into the soil, and fertilise with chicken manure. We recommend Attunga’s Organic Life, as it also contains fish meal and seaweed. Attunga are a local company based in Dandenong that also supply us the famous Humus Plus, a secret formula that will give every garden bed a lift.

Pruning fruit trees is a slow process. Don’t rush it because you can’t sticky tape the branch back on ! Go for a classic wine glass shape, cutting out any weak internal branches so as to open the middle of the plant up a bit. I also like to control height, because when harvesting, the ladder only goes so high.  Even little blueberry bushes could do with a culling of the weak internal branches.

Of course this is the month to watch and enjoy the magnolia flowers literally open befrore your eyes. Towards the end of the flowering period, fertilise big trees with a bucket of Organic Life or Dynamic Lifter and this will ensure nice dark green leaves and vigorous growth. A prune after flowering will make them bushy, but you might like to leave yours tall and lanky. Thats the other beaut thing about these trees – all, the different shapes and sizes.

Camellia Dr Clifford Parks and Magnolia doltsopa

a close-up of the same Magnolia doltsopa

Also feed azaleas, camellias, daphne and trim back evergreens lightly, including box hedges, so as to ensure the new growth takes off from nice bushy plants. Sow spring seeds of petunias, marigolds, capsicums and tomatoes. GET READY, as the frenetic spring season is almost upon us.

Bulbs to plant this month: Dahlia, Gladioli, Canna lilies, Alstromeria, Asiatic Lilies and herbaceous Peonies.

Foodcrops: Asparagus, Beetroot, Broad beans, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Coriander, Lettuce, Leek, Parsnip, Onions, Potatoes, Rhubarb, Radish, Strawberry runners, Shallots, Snowpeas

Magnolia soulangeana

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