The Advantages of Trees

The Advantages of Trees

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

Most of us would see trees as purely cosmetic, put here to make the place look pretty… but they are so much more than that. They are a vital part of the ecosystem. All trees are a major source of the air we breathe, they help control and stabilize the world’s climate and they provide food and shelter for millions of species.

There are many benefits in having them in our own gardens.
Read more

Deciduous Trees

Deciduous Trees

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

The glory of autumn foliage from the hundreds of tree varieties introduced to Australia is only one good reason to grow deciduous trees. The bare trees of winter, stark but beautiful, are also valued for their ability to provide change to the scenery. They let through the much needed winter sunlight to benefit lawns, garden beds and outdoor living spaces; and in summer they give shade to these areas.
Read more

Reducing the heat with vegetation

Reducing the heat with vegetation

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

As the temperature begins to rise and water conservation continues to impact on gardeners, people are watering less and are looking to find alternatives for vegetation. But by using some simple planting techniques you can help to decrease the heat around your home and in turn reduce energy consumption.

In response to global warming and water restrictions across the country, politicians are suggesting quick fix strategies to combat climate change. The latest suggestion to come out of Western Australia is that we need to get rid of lawns because they are impractical. But as members of the gardening and landscape industry what we really need is long-term solutions.

Read more

Flowering Gums (Corymbia ficifolia)

Flowering Gums (Corymbia ficifolia)

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

This is a fairly generic term, but commonly refers to Corymbia ficifolia and all the various grafted cultivars of this genus.

The original species Corymbia ficifolia is a sturdy tree from W.A., with thick green leaves and very variable height, from as low as 2m to as tall as 12-15m. When flowering it is an absolute mass of brilliant red to orange blossom. These are followed by large woody gum nuts. They cope very well with dry windy conditions, but don’t tolerate hard frosts, waterlogging or humidity. Native birds absolutely love these trees, especially lorikeets.
Read more

Acer – Japanese Maple

Acer – Japanese Maple

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

Acer palmatum and Acer japonicum

Of all the ornamental trees, the Japanese Maples are easily my personal favourites. Light, airy, layered.

The Acer palmatum is generally seed grown, so there is some degree of variability within trees, but generally speaking this is a delightful small airy vase shaped tree with a 5 lobed leaf, bright green in spring, mid green over summer, turning orange, crimson and yellow over autumn. Roughly 3-8m x 4m. It is from this species that the vast majority of the cultivars are derived.

Acer japonicum is sometimes called the Full Moon Japanese Maple. The rounded leaves have 9 – 13 lobes and give a wonderful light and airy effect. It leafs up early in spring with lovely lime green leaves, deepening to green over summer and then autumn sees stunning, almost iridescent, oranges and deep crimson reds. The larger leaf surface gives an amazing autumn display. Slightly taller at 4m to 8+m in height, you will need to allow room for it to spread.
Read more

Curry Leaf Tree

Curry Leaf Tree

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

The Curry Leaf Tree (Murraya koenigii) is an attractive, upright evergreen tree native to India and Sri Lanka, and is a member of the Rutaceae family together with citrus and white sapotes. Its dense canopy produces an abundance of aromatic fern-like leaves that are used to flavour curry dishes and are also used medicinally. Even though this tree normally grows in subtropical and tropical areas, it also does well in temperate climates, requiring a sunny, protected, frost-free position and free-draining but moist soil.

Here in Melbourne’s temperate climate a curry leaf tree will grow to around 2-3m in height, and may lose leaves over winter in colder areas. When grown against a north or west facing wall, which creates a warm microclimate, the trees are less affected by cold and tend to retain their leaves.

Curry leaf trees produce clusters of small fragrant white flowers in summer that self-pollinate to produce shiny purplish-black berries around 1cm long when ripe. The berries do not have a culinary use. The flesh of the berries is edible though the taste described as ‘medicinal’. The berries also contain a single large seed which is toxic and should not be eaten.

The leaves are best used fresh as they lose their flavour when dried. Fresh leaves last for a week in the fridge when placed in a dry plastic bag. To preserve them for longer periods, pick curry leaf leaves when they are green and full of flavour in summer or autumn and freeze them, but keep the leaves intact, don’t strip the small individual leaflets from the leaf stem before freezing them.

Pruning can be carried out through the growing season to keep the tree bushy and to supply a large harvest of leaves for freezing.

In cooking, the leaves impart a subtle warm, smoky, spicy flavour and aroma to curries, meat, seafood and vegetarian dishes, pickles and chutneys. The leaves are often sautéed (lightly fried) first in oil to enhance the flavour, often with other spices and then added to stir-fries or curries.

Silver Birch Trees in Melbourne

Silver Birch Trees in Melbourne

Several decades ago Silver Birches were the tree of choice in Melbourne. Their glorious trunks and delicate foliage danced across the Melbourne landscape and number plates proclaimed Victoria to be the Garden State. Melbourne was wonderful. I loved it. Then Magnolia ‘Little Gem’ made a huge splash followed by upright ornamental pear trees, and the silver birch was a bit lost in the rush to embrace the new. But it is worthwhile re-visiting exactly why Melbourne had a love affair with Betula pendula in its many forms.
Read more

Mountain Pepper

Mountain Pepper

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

Tasmannia lanceolata
This lovely example of a bush food plant occurs naturally in the cool, temperate rainforest areas of Tasmania, Victoria and New South Wales. Also known as Native Pepper, Mountain Pepper is a tall, evergreen shrub or small tree. It grows to between three and five metres, and up to ten metres in native habitats. It has distinctive reddish branches and smooth, narrow green leaves. Its creamy flowers appear in small clusters in September, followed by dark red berries that turn black when ripe in around March or April. The leaves have a hot flavour when chewed, and the berries are enjoyed by native birds. Mountain Pepper was used by indigenous tribes along the east coast of Australia as medicine and also a cooking spice. In the kitchen both the leaves and berries can be used to spice up numerous dishes.
Read more

Jujube Trees (Chinese Date – Hong Zao)

Jujube Trees (Chinese Date – Hong Zao)

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

UPDATE: 2019 – Jujubes will be on the bench and for sale in the nursery for sale on Saturday November 23. We are no longer reserving or holding jujube plants for people.

Please note, we cannot fill our local demand and do not currently post plants. We only deliver to nearby suburbs in Melbourne. This may change in the future, as we realise there is great demand across Australia for these plants. I will update this page if we are able to post plants. We are working to try and find a cost effective solution.

We are all very excited to finally have some jujube (Zizyphus jujuba) or Chinese red date trees to sell at BAAG. For me, thinking of this fruit brings back childhood memories eating them at Chinese restaurants in desserts such as “Eight Treasure Rice” when only the dried fruit were available and they were little known outside of the Chinese community.  It has been hard to get jujube trees in the past in Australia, but now that they are being grown at a small number of propagation nurseries here, they are starting to become more available.
Read more

Malus trilobata

Malus trilobata

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

Malus trilobata

Also known as Lebanese wild apple, erect crab apple or three-lobed apple tree.

This tree solves a lot of problems. At the nursery we are often asked for a very narrow tree to act as a screen or to run down a driveway. The ubiquitous Pyrus ‘Capital’, so beloved by both councils and designers grows to 11m by 3m wide, people have been planting them by the thousands, only to discover that 11m is actually very tall in a small space, and a bit overwhelming. Arborists are now busy cutting many of them down, or attempting to lower the crown – not an easy job with this tree.

On the other hand, Malus trilobata grows to a nice comfortable 6-7m x 2-4m wide. In addition, it has dark green, deeply lobed maple like leaves turning to brilliant and eye-catching red / scarlet in autumn. The charming white flowers of spring look good against the dark green foliage and are followed by green crab apples in autumn. A medium to fast growing tree, this tree has a reliably upright symmetrical slender pyramidal shape, imparting a slightly formal look.

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

It can take almost any soil, including compacted heavy clay soils – very useful for around Melbourne – but will obviously do best in a good well drained loamy soil. Will grow in full sun to part shade and can take heavy frosts. For those of us who love Canadian maples with their brilliant autumn foliage but find them too large, this is a great alternative.

Nectarine – Nectazee Standard

Nectarine - Nectazee Standard

Of the fruit trees growing at BAAG, one that stands out as a great plant selection is the Nectazee standard at the front entrance (our north eastern parterre bed). Nectazee standards are part of the Fleming’s Trixzie miniature fruit tree range which is made up of Nectazee Nectarines, Pixzee Peaches, White and Black Cherree Cherries and Pixzee Pears. Like most other dwarf fruit trees, barring dwarf pomegranates which are ornamental anyway, these produce full sized fruit on miniature sized trees.

Read more

Eucalyptus woodwardii – Lemon Flowered Gum

Eucalyptus woodwardii – Lemon Flowered Gum

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

Smoky-grey leaves, a weeping habit and a stunning display of bright yellow flowers make this the perfect choice for medium sized yards. It will survive in very dry conditions and grows to around 10m tall. It is quite an upright tree (will grow to around 3m across) so you don’t need an enormous bush block to throw one in. They prefer a well drained soil and do not like to be over-watered. I planted this one the week my daughter was born and she turns four next month… it is now around 4m tall and looks beautiful as the feature tree in the backyard.

How great do these flowers look? The bees love them, and so will you.

Trees for Small Gardens

Trees for Small Gardens

Espaliered Trees

Espaliering is a form of pruning and training trees as a flat two dimensional specimen. This is usually done against a wall but may also be used to provide a free standing green wall. There are many different shapes that the espalier may take. Traditional espaliers usually have lateral branches trained horizontally at regular spacing. However other shapes may be used including fan, palmette and cordon shapes. Espaliering displays the flowers and fruits very attractively and creates an elegant, compact tree, which is perfectly suited to small gardens.

 
Flowering Cherries, Crab Apples, Cercis, Laburnum, Crepe Myrtle and Prunus all make stunning espaliers. The fruit trees most suited to this style of training are Apples and Pears. However, other fruit trees such as Plums, Cherries, Peaches, Nectarines, Almonds, Apricots and fruiting vines can also be espaliered in more simple designs. Espaliered trees create a compact, elegant tree whose flowers and fruit are attractively displayed, and spraying and picking fruit is easier and less time-consuming. Fruit is usually produced earlier on espaliered trees. Netting to protect ripening fruit is also easier on a smaller, more compact tree.

 

Requirements

A constructed support such as trellis or horizontal wires upon a fence is needed to support the tree. Strong posts are required at the ends to hold up the trellis or on which to train wires. Wires must be under tension and need to be thick enough to train the growing stems to. The wires should be spaced 50 to 75 cm apart and space the trees at two to 4 m apart depending on the size of the tree.

 

Method

Select young trees with evenly spaced branches. Chose the lateral branches to be retained and prune off all other laterals near the trunk. Tie the laterals down to the wires (for a traditional espalier), or onto bamboo canes, which should then be tied into position on the wires (for fan shaped espaliers). Use flexible ties which should be checked regularly for damage to the stems. Prune the tips of the laterals back to the desired length, to a bud. Vertical, inward-facing and weak growth should be removed.

 

Espaliered trees have the same growing requirements as other fruit and deciduous trees, so remember that
adequate watering in summer and providing the right soil conditions are essential to maintaining a healthy
espaliered tree. Espaliering is a high maintenance technique. Constant pruning and tying in are needed to create the right shape to start with. When the desired shape and size are reached, this must be maintained with regular pruning. Early summer pruning is important to control vigour and prevent shading of the lower limbs.

 

Winter pruning

Winter pruning is also required, and it is also the time to redefine the shape and size of the espalier.

 

Pleaching Fruit and Deciduous Trees

Pleaching is a very old technique used with many fruit and ornamental deciduous trees to form a free-standing ‘hedge-on-stilts’. The training is similar to forming an espalier – trees are planted in a line at approximately 2.5m apart, lower branches are removed and lateral branches of adjacent trees are trained to ‘Knit together’ to form a tall hedge. This is very useful to create privacy along a narrow driveway.

 

Duo and trio fruit trees

This refers to planting two or more trees into the same hole. Commonly done when trees require cross pollinators and/or when space is tight.

Trees will grow on their own root system and with their own growth habit. An advantage is that the stronger growing tree will not dominate the weaker tree which is often a problem in multi grafted trees. A dwarfing effect and earlier fruit may be noticeable due to competition.

Plant the trees around 150mm – 300mm apart and at a very slight outward angle. Judicious pruning to remove some of the branches in the centre triangle (if three trees) or adjacent (if two trees) is ideal when planting. Prune as if one tree, so you have an open structure with tree branches not interfering with each other.

These multiple plantings allow you to fit in cross pollinators, to increase your range of species and lengthen harvest time.

 

Cordons

A cordon involves training a tree with a single stem. Cordons are planted on a slant and trained up wires at a 45 degree angle, then gradually trained along the top of the wire trellis. This form of training allows many different cultivars to be produced in a small space. It is suitable for many fruit tree cultivars as well as berries.

 

Ballerina Apples

The Ballerina Apple tree is a compact, columnar tree, which only grows 3.5m tall by 60cm wide. It is perfect for small spaces or growing in pots. This tree requires little or no pruning. Many fruiting apple cultivars are available as well as an ornamental Crab Apple. It produces a large crop of medium to large-sized excellent-flavoured fruit. Fruit matures in mid-late March. Ballerina Apples are partially self-fertile, although another Ballerina Apple, Jonathan, Granny Smith or Dayton planted nearby would be an advantage.

 

Dwarf Fruit Trees Cultivars of Apples, Nectarines, Peaches and Pomegranates are grafted or bred to produce smaller trees that produce abundant crops of normal-sized fruits. The trees reach approximately 2 x 2 m. These are ideal for container growing or planted in small gardens. Varieties available are Granny Smith, Jonathan, Golden Delicious, Gala and Red Delicious, Nectarine, Peaches (grown primarily for their ornamental value) and Pomegranates.

 

Standard Forms

Many citrus, roses, hedging and flowering shrubs can be bought or trained as standard forms. The plant is pruned to form a ‘ball on a stick’, displaying flowers, fruit or foliage on a formal plant. Standard Cumquats, Roses and English Box or Lilly Pilly standards can look stunning in small gardens or pots where a formal style or feature is desired.

Trees in Pots

Many fruit trees and deciduous ornamentals can be grown in containers on balconies or in small gardens. This is very useful for people without gardens. A container that holds a large amount of potting mix is necessary. A half wine-barrel with holes drilled is ideal. If the pot is smaller, the tree may need re-potting every 2-3 years and will not produce as much fruit. It is important to use a good quality potting mix and to give the tree a deep, regular soaking, with extra water on hot days. The tree will not grow as large in a pot.

Weeping Fruit & Ornamental Trees

Many deciduous ornamentals, such as Weeping Cherries, Birches, Mulberries or Maples are excellent container grown plants. The same principles apply as above. The plant can be brought out for display when it is at its best or can be under planted with bulbs, ground covers or annuals during the dormant stage.

 

Peaches & Nectarines

Nectarine - Nectazee Standard

Nothing compares to the taste of a home grown, freshly picked peach or nectarine. Bursting with flavour and heavy with juice, once you have tasted peaches from your own tree you’ll never go back to canned again. As well as being tasty, peaches and nectarines are also really good for you. Both contain high levels of Vitamins A and C, as well as potassium, magnesium and beta-carotine.

Nectarines are essentially a smooth-skinned peach… that’s why we have them together on the one factsheet.

Read more