Majestic Trees of Beechworth

Hi There,

A visit to Beechworth on the Labour day weekend for our annual catchup with relatives highlighted again for me that there are plenty of trees here that are of majestic proportion.  Majestic enough to even be on the National Trust Significant Tree register.  Fuelled by a chat to one of Janet’s nieces about trees,  I decided that an afternoon would be spent in the Town Hall Gardens in Beechworth where there are some lovely old trees.  Most of these magnificent specimens were donated by Ferdinand Von Mueller in 1875.  Click here to find out more about the great Von Mueller.

We will start with the Bunya Pine.  Araucaria bidwillii

I love how the branches radiate out from the trunk on this one.  Native to Queensland, this evergreen coniferous tree can grow to somewhere between 30-45 metres.  The Bunya Pine is the last surviving species in the section Bunya of the genus Araucaria.  Fossils from section Bunya have been found in South America and Europe.  This tree was around during the Jurassic.

Leaves of the Bunya above, bark below.

Caution must be used when standing under these tree’s.  Why?  Check out the photo below!

That’s part of the Bunya Pine cone!  Weighing in at an impressive 18 kg (roughly) and the size of a football.  a hard hat may be called for if you decide to spend an extended amount of time under the Bunya.  Living for about 500 years, the Bunya pine makes for an impressive looking tree in a weird sort of way!

Next up we have the Atlas Cedar,  Cedrus atlantica

Atlas Cedar is a Cedar native to the Atlas mountains in Morocco, reaching a height of 30-35 metre with a girth of up to 2 metres.  Here is the bark with Lichen.

One of the smaller trees in this park is the Irish Strawberry Tree, Arbutus unedo .  Can be either a large shrub or small tree, grows to about 10 metres and native to Mediterranean areas and parts of Ireland.  It has white Erica like flowers that turn into large red berries, a bit like a strawberry!  Here are its leaves.

Arbutus unedo is normally multi trunked.  It was first described by Carl Linnaeus in 1753 in volume one of his landmark book Species Plantarum.  Click on his name to find out more.

The bark of the Irish Strawberry tree is quite remarkable as well.

Another Cedrus here is Cedrus deodara, also known as the Deodar Cedar.

Looks a bit like the Whomping Willow, don’t you think?  Not that I’ve ever stood under the Whomping Willow, I just feel that this Deodar Cedar is tensing up its boughs to fling them around!

Bark above and cones below.

The Deodar Cedar is native to the Western Himalayas in Eastern Afghanistan through to Western Nepal.  Grows to about 40-50 metres and occasionally 60 metres with a girth of up to 3 metres.  This is also the national tree of Pakistan.

Next we have the Canary Island Pine, Pinus canariensis .

Obviously native to the Canary Islands, this is a sub tropical pine which doesn’t like cold temperatures.  Growing to about 30 – 40 metres but also able to reach 60 metres, with a girth of 2.5 metres.  It has extremely long leaves which are needle like, see below.

The bark is interesting as well.

Fun fact!  “The tree’s  long needles make a significant contribution to the islands water supply, trapping large amounts of condensation from the moist air coming off the Atlantic with the prevailing north-eastern wind (locally called “alisios”). The condensation then drops to the ground and is quickly absorbed by the soil, eventually percolating down to the underground aquifers”.

Lets have a look at the Western Yellow Pine, Pinus ponderosa .  This pine hails from the Western United States and Canada and is the official state tree of Montana.

Not sure where the top is in the above photo, in the wild one of these has been measured at 81.77 metres tall, now that’s tall!  Check out its bark, that’s pretty cool too!

One more look at this tall tree.

Now, finally to the mummy or daddy of them all.  Sequoiadendron giganteum .  The Sierra Redwood.  Although not the tallest tree in the world, that belongs to Sequoia sempervirens the coastal redwood, the Sierra Redwoods are the largest single tree’s and largest living thing (by volume) in the world.  The biggest one, known as General Sherman is 83.8 metres tall with a girth of 31.3 metres at ground level.  Yes, that’s not a typo!  31.3 metres at ground level.  That’s a volume of 1,486.9 cubic metres!

The bark can be up to 90cm thick, making it quite fire-proof.  The oldest known Sierra Redwood is thought to be 3,500 years old.

A large tree can have about 11,000 cones and surprisingly for such a large tree the cones are quite small.  Here’s a collection that someone’s gathered.

As the name may suggest, this tree comes from the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California.  Here’s a row of them below.

Here they are in their full glory

A couple more photos.

To finish off, here is a small plaque in the gardens, nodding to the great botanist Ferdinand von Mueller, who had the foresight to donate these tree’s and seeds for future generations to enjoy, not only here but  in many public gardens and Botanic gardens throughout the state.  Thankyou!




Hi There!

Whenever I see this plant, mostly when it’s in flower I just sigh or even a MMMmmmm or AAHHhhhhh and amazingly it’s not a rose.  But! it is somehow connected to them, all will be revealed later.  In case you’re wondering, I’m talking about Malus ioensis plena.  Also known as the Betchel crab Apple, this beautiful tree only grows to about 6m tall by about 3-4 wide.  This means it can be planted in lots of smaller gardens making it possibly one of the most common crab apples or even of all smaller tree’s.  Common you say!  Well yes its very common but in gardening terms common actually means something that has been tried and tested and survived and performed and continued to perform over and over.  I know if you say common it sounds dull but hey, have a look here.

Malus ioensis plena

Seriously, how beautiful is that!

Malus ioensis plena

It’s seriously just a sea of blossoms.  Now how is it connected to roses?  Well simply put it belongs to the Rosaceae family.  How?  Read on.  The majority of species in  Rosaceae have leaves with serrated margins and a pair of stipules where the leaf joins the stem.  Branch spines and prickles are common on trees and shrubs in the rose family.  There are plenty of more similarities that put crab apples into Rosaceae.  Simply put if you look at a human family group the offspring of the parents will have distinguishing marks and looks that make them look like their parents to some degree, and if you have cousins, their features will match yours in some way(mostly).

So we know roses have lots of thorns, this crab apple has sharp spine like tips to its branches.  Get the connection?  Anyway, enough of that stuff, more photo’s I think.

malus ioensis plena

malus ioensis plena

Even the buds are gorgeous!

malus ioensis plena

I think the photos say more than all my ramblings….


What is…….

Hi there!

What is a waste product produced by plants?

Any guess’s???

Not sure, don’t know, couldn’t care less, whatever, LOL,.

I’ll narrow it down for you with 3 multiple choice answers.

Is it,

a. mycorrhizal association with fungus

b. autumn leaves

c. oxygen


If you picked a or b you would be wrong.  The answer is c.  Yes I know, hard to believe, oxygen a waste product produced by plants.  Thank goodness they produce waste!

How is this possible?  Without getting too technical, during the process of photosynthesis(plants making food for themselves using sunlight, carbon dioxide and water) the chloroplasts(specialised structures) inside leaves contain chlorophyll(green pigment that makes leaves green) which absorb energy from sunlight.  This absorbed energy is used to join the carbon dioxide and water together to form glucose.  The plant then uses this glucose as its energy source.  The oxygen which is a waste product from this chemical reaction is then released into the atmosphere.  Who would have thought!!

Plant a few and look after them….


A ghostly tale

Hi There!

The poor apricot tree must have seen a ghost a couple of weeks ago, it turned white!


Silly me its only the bird netting.  Sorry birds you’re getting zip this year since there’s not many apricots on it.  Its been a tough year.  You can have a look if you like but this is as close as you’re getting to them!


Looks like its time to pick them and today was the day to do it since I only noticed them ripening up nicely this afternoon.  amazing how quickly they ripen and if you miss them they ripen too much for my likening.


Excellent, here we go.  Looks like the ghost’s have moved on.  Better get in there quick before the birds arrive.


Yum!  Oops! there go the ghost’s to the next unsuspecting tree.


Glad we got rid of those scary things.  There’s more apricots than I thought.  Fantastic!


Just in case you didn’t see the above photo, look below!  Apricot Trevatt if you’re wondering.


These on the ground are rolling down to the chook pen.


And these ones I will leave in the tree as an entrée for my feathery friends!


Nothing like freshly picked apricots with a pungent ripe smell, magnificent, and if you can’t eat them all before they get past there best.  Throw them in the pot and stew them for a beautiful addition to your cereal at breakfast time.  Apricot jam any one?


Plants in Focus #3

Hi There!

Today we will look at a flowering cherry in my garden.  Flowering cherries are from the Rosaceae family and the genus Prunus comprises some 400 species found growing naturally in the Northern Hemisphere.  Prunus is the genus where all of the stone fruits are found which provides us with all the lovely edible fruits found worldwide on people’s tables and kitchens.  These can also be found in all types of food production including pies, preserves, jams, drinks and many more both in commercial and domestic kitchens.  Cherries can be found growing in Europe, Asia and North America.

The Japanese flowering cherries have long been collected and propagated on the many isolated islands of Japan and because of the Japanese language-spoken or visually presented this has complicated the many different varieties for non-Japanese speaking gardeners.  Many people have tried to document the countless different varieties of cherries and Roland M Jefferson has endeavoured many times to document and organise the world literature and put together living collections of cherries, so as to limit the confusion with names.  To understand this we need to look at the history of cherries in Japan.  We can see in the literature that a lot of cherries that escaped from cultivation in Japan are progeny of species planted in mountainous areas for the purpose of ‘Cherry viewing’ which is a favourite pastime in Japan and  still is.  This started over 1200 years ago.  There are references to cherries being planted in Japanese gardens before 794 A.D. as well.  So one can see with this timeframe that natural and assisted hybridisation would have taken place many times, and many people would have introduced different cherries frequently, some would have been lost then reintroduced, renamed and so it goes on.

Prunus ‘Amanogawa’ is an ideal tree for small spaces and gardens, it is columnar in habit and rarely exceeds 2 metres in width and reaching a height of approximately 5 metres at about 20 years old.  The leaves are mid green and serrated and have a slight copper colour to them when young.  They turn red and gold colours in Autumn.  Buds are pink and open to large flowers that are  semi-double, soft pink in colour and borne in dense clusters.  They will fade slightly to white.


Apparently the flowers are slightly fragrant, but I haven’t noticed them yet.  This tree is adaptable to a wide range of conditions but will prefer a moist well-drained soil in full to part shade.  I have noticed 2 different translations of the name ‘Amanogawa’ which are celestial river and ‘Milky way galaxy” or ‘River of the sky’.  Not sure how accurate these are, so I will leave them alone(see note above about naming cherries).  This tree was first mentioned in 1886 in a list of trees that were planted along the Arakawa River near Tokyo.  This river is one of the main rivers flowing through Tokyo.  It originates on Mount Kobushi in the Saitamam Prefecture and it empties into the Tokyo Bay.  Some interesting facts of this river is that its 173km long and the widest part of it is 2,537 metres wide, yes that’s 2.5km and the drainage basin covers 2,940 square Kilometres.


This cherry is also referred to as one of the Sato-zakura Group.  Sato-zakura translates as Village cherries which are cherries that are cultivated and not wild species.  Village cherries refers to the fact that hybridisation has been going on for centuries in Japanese gardens and villages.  The term Sato-zakura is used in England to describe cultivated Japanese cherries and many authors from Japan have done the same since the 19 hundreds.  This term complies with the cultivated code and is now established in the literature.  It has no taxonomic or botanical significance.  Its only used to indicate Japanese cherries of uncertain pedigrees.


In the above and below photo’s you can see the pink blush and the clusters of flowers.


Below you can see it rising above the garden bed majestically


And one more for good measure



Pear shaped

Hi There,

After 52mm of rain on Sunday night and Monday I am sloshing around on soggy ground again and hoping most plants don’t mind it too much.  Some don’t like getting wet feet and after a fair bit of rain in August a Penstemon centranthifolius sort of gave me a blank look and turned its toes up.  Of course I couldn’t see its toes because it doesn’t have any, it was just not happy about all the rain.  You could say it went all pear-shaped whatever that means.  I mean really, whats wrong with the shape of a pear, it’s just natural and they come in all shapes and sizes and I quite like them, especially when their ripe with just enough juice, not too much or you end up with a sticky mess.  Who looked at a pear and thought gee! I might make the shape of that fruit synonymous with something that goes wrong?(as a footnote, the origin of this is still in dispute according to Wikipedia).  Look at that!  its gone banana shaped, what do you mean?  Has it gone round a bend?

Here’s some photos of some trees which are pear related because their known as ornamental pears as opposed to fruiting pears.


I know these would look better with a bit of sunshine but you will just have to believe it.  See, the rain was on the way and blossom  from most tree’s don’t take to it to kindly, it gets knocked off very easy.  These are Pyrus calleryana ‘Bradford’ which is one of many different ornamental pear cultivars  and species you can get now.  They are all fantastic tree’s with white flowers in different shapes and sizes and different heights and widths.  This variety should grow to about 9 metres high and 4 metres wide.  Of course this is all dependant on your soil and climate.  Here’s a view below, looking through the branches that looks quite nice.


These tree’s do actually fruit but the fruit is only the size of a pea or there about, so one can use the term “Insignificant”.  Autumn colour is another bonus of these tree’s.  Bright reds and oranges create a stunning effect, in my opinion that is, you will just have to wait half a year to find out if they do or not!  Below you will see a closeup of the flowers.


Exquisite aren’t they.

Oh!  Look there, here comes some more rain.  We could be in for a wet spring.  Don’t worry, i live in Victoria, just wait a couple of hours and it should be different again.  A Phlomis italica  suddenly looked at me strangely  just then.