Saturday, 7 June 2014

Tree following - hard pruning

It’s time for the monthly post about my two Magnolia soulangeana, the two trees I have growing in containers on my patio. Last month, in May, the leaves had come out and the trees looked very different from April’s photos. This month the changes are more subtle.

This is the sunniest part of my garden and the plants are fighting over the space here. It has a distinctive Mediterranean feel with a palm (Phoenix canariensis), calla lilies (Zantedeschia aethiopica), bottlebrush plant (Callistemon rigidus), bird of paradise (Strelitzia reginae) and lavender (Lavandula angustifolia 'Munstead'). There are also roses, daylilies and a dwarf lilac here and the pot on the fence is an amaryllis that is going to soak up as much sun as possible so I’ll get wonderful flowers again for Christmas.

Here they are, the tall one at the back is Magnolia soulangeana 'Heaven Scent' and the smaller one, which you can hardly see, is Magnolia soulangeana 'Red Lucky' and it is standing right in front of the tall one.

But let me show you what I have done to 'Red Lucky', the folding ruler is 180cm long and this is how tall 'Red Lucky' was, 160cm, which is 5’2”. Perhaps you remember from last month I told you that 'Red Lucky' is supposed to keep small and grow as a standard in a container and just stay small by pruning?

And this is after I have given it a good haircut - it is now 110cm tall (3’7”). This magnolia seems to grow like mad, much faster than the much larger 'Heaven Scent' – makes me wonder if I should have swapped and made 'Heaven Scent' the small standard and let 'Red Lucky' just grow as it wants!

Anyway, too late now. Here are the leaves on 'Red Lucky', they are quite large for such a relatively small plant.

And this is the leaves of 'Heaven Scent', much smaller, a different shape and with a different marking. Strange they are two trees of almost the same parenthood, just different varieties.

And do you remember the fruit cones I wondered about last month? Well, I didn’t have to worry about them, they have all fallen off and most of them are either in the pot with the magnolias or with the roses next to them. I suppose they might just fall off if they don’t start to produce any fruit – and that seems to have happened here. Maybe it will produce fruit when the magnolia is a bit older and more mature.

So that was my two magnolias in June, I am linking today’s post with Lucy at Loose and Leafy who’s hosting the ‘Tree following’ meme. If you head over to her blog you can see a lot of other trees of all sorts and shapes.

Oh, and before you go, I just have to show you the first flower of my amazing passionflower plant. Last year it started to flower in middle of July, but this year the first flowers opened this week - well over a month earlier. The flowers are high up on the south facing side, a bit difficult to take pictures of, but there must be hundreds and hundreds of flower buds, so lots more to come.

Until next time, take care.

28 comments:

  1. The seed pods on my magnolia are still green and on the tree, I hope you manage to tame Red Lucky.

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    1. I hope so too Sue, if not I will have to find someone who will adopt it!

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  2. I hope your magnolia doesn't get too top heavy Helene - it hasn't half done some growing! Good luck with your attempts at keeping them in pots. It will be interesting to watch their progress in the coming years.

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    1. This is un-know territory to me Angie, purely trial and error so I just have to judge when the time comes and they’ve had enough of container life!

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  3. Thank you for giving us the next chapter in your Magnolia story, Helene. We will continue to watch this space ... and Red Lucky!

    Caroline at Wild & Wonderful

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    1. Thanks Gill, Red Lucky is growing like mad, I hope it slows down a bit after the summer, would be nice with some flowers next spring :-)

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  4. Interesting that the leaves look so different on them! Your passionfruit bloom is gorgeous. They are so neat looking!

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    1. Thanks, my passionflower has turned out to be a great success, but boy does it grow! I hacked off 70-80% of it in March, and most of it has grown back already.

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  5. Oh I feel a Passion Flower seed-sowing session coming on. I did grow one years ago & it spawled up n' over the fence for the neighbours to enjoy. That said...yours is so gorgeous & the urge to sow again is soooooo strong!

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    1. It’s great to have a passionflower if you got room to grow it – or your neighbour has room! But all I got is this tree stump, which I initially thought would be plenty for many years, but after 3 years it has already managed to outgrow the space. Amazing how it can grow, I can almost see it from day to day!

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  6. The Passion Flower is gorgeous! And it's good to hear that your Magnolias are doing well in June. They have a beautiful spot near some of your other incredible plants. Your garden seems to have a very nice mix of sun, shade, and dappled sun/shade.

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    1. Thanks Beth, yes I have a mix of all conditions in my garden, but if I was ever to start again I think I would prefer a south facing garden so I would get more sun. It would be lovely to be able to grow all those sun loving plants I have never been able to grow, just been drooling over on other people’s blogs :-)

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  7. Good luck with your magnolias! I look forward to watching their progress. And I love the passionflower! This plant is native here, and you have shamed me because I do not have one, something I must remedy!

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    1. The passionflower has almost gone ‘native’ here in London too, they grow wild everywhere and are a huge nuisance to the maintenance of the train and tube tracks. Birds are spreading the seeds and passionflowers being so opportunistic they survive most things :-) Mine is already a thug, can’t believe how much is has grown since the tiny baby I brought home from a friend’s garden in April 2011!

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  8. I am interested to hear how it works keeping them in pots. I have done it with Magnolia stellata but this one is happy to be kept as a bush. Yours want to be big trees so will be a bit more of a problem. But I went to a talk by someone from Frank Matthews Fruit tree Nursery and he said we should' t be frightened of big trees Any tree can be kept small.

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    1. I must admit I don’t know how the trees will develop, this is very much a trial and error thing – and taking the trees’ conditions into consideration as I go. The nursery where I bought the tall one said I could expect the largest one to be happy in this container for about 5 years (1 year is already gone), and then I would have to switch to the next size up container which probably would only last for 2-3 years and then the magnolia would need to go in the ground. My hope is that by then the crown is so high up that I can walk under it and it won’t really matter where I put it in the garden. Although I already have a space for it, right in the middle of the garden.
      The smallest magnolia is meant to stay small by pruning. Not sure if it has got the message yet….

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  9. The little flower cones are like darts. I was hoping you'd get seeds and begin to grow new trees from them! Your heart must have been in your mouth when you pruned. The result though looks very neat and encouraging.

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    1. I really don’t need any more magnolias, two are more than enough so I don’t mind the fruitcones not doing much :-)
      I must admit I was procrastinating for weeks before I finally took my secateurs and started cutting - I wasn’t really sure what to do and how it would end up looking, but I am happy with the result. I hope it will grow in this shape and not end up distorted though. Time will tell.

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  10. Goodness you're brave with your pruners. I would have been terrified to even cut a leaf lest I kill that tree. It looks great though, obviously you know what you're doing.

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    1. Erhm….thanks for the huge vote of confidence, but I have never done anything remotely similar, I just cut it in a way that looks logic to me, I hope it is logic to the magnolia too!! And yes, I might have killed it, at least it didn’t cost a lot if it dies, I would never have cut the big one like that, it was very expensive, but ‘Red Lucky’ was just a cheap small one so I can afford to experiment a bit. I hope it gets the message, “stay small and neat” – and produce some flower soon, please :-)

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  11. I remember your passion flower last year: it climbed on the branches of the dried tree. And had fruit! About magnolia. It's strange that yours grows 'like mad', mine grows very slow, has only 2 new leaves but looks healthy. It's good that you pruned it, will see how it grows now.
    have a nice week, Helene!

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    1. Yes, you remember correct about my passionflower, and it is going to get even bigger this year!
      What type of magnolia do you have? Different types grow at different rates, and climate and temperature will also make a difference in growth rate.

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  12. Hi Helene, I have been thinking about this since your last Magnolia update and at first thought it was too far fetched, but as an option further down the line logically you could contain 'Red Lucky' by treating it as a semi-bonsai. If it was grown in a basket, similar to those used for aquatics, but placed in a pot, you could probably root prune it at intervals which would dwarf it but allow the wood to age enough to give you flowers. I know it may not be terribly practical and right out of the box but you can keep it in mind as Magnolias can be root pruned as far as I know.

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    1. Snap! I have been think about the same! I grow many different types of Bonsai trees, and I have wondered if perhaps the magnolia would be willing to get a similar treatment. It would probably not be possible if I let it grow for a few years so I will need to do any root pruning now, while I can still lift it and handle it! However, many Bonsai trees refuse to flower, and the whole reason for keeping a magnolia is for the flowers so it will be a risk to take. Fortunately I do have a second magnolia in case a completely ruin ‘Red Lucky’ !!

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  13. Hi Helene
    It's always amazing how quickly plants grow but you certainly seem to be doing all you can to keep your trees small enough for your garden. Glad you have the space for some trees.

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    1. Thanks Astrid, sometimes we can’t get them to grow fast enough, other times they grow way to quickly :-) I hope the magnolias get the message, container living is not for the tall and wide trees!

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  14. Helene your trees are wonderful. I often wondered how you can grow a tree in a container but you have it down to a science. Lovely passionflower.

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    1. Growing trees in containers are a bit trial and error for me, I’ll have to see how it goes, but it should be possible for a good few years. Eventually they will need a space in the ground.

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