Why size can matter with hardy magnolias

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MAGNOLIAS present a stunning floral display at present. They are also incredibly hardy and mine survived the drought with very few losses, if any. 

It is important to keep size in mind when selecting one for the garden, which raises the question: when is a plant a shrub or a tree?

Trees are termed with a single trunk, whereas shrubs have multiple stems. However, Magnolia x soulangiana (illustrated here) can easily grow to 6-7m, as tall as a tree.

Although established magnolias need little pruning, choose plants appropriate to your garden. If you need to prune existing magnolias, possibly under or near power lines, do this in mid-summer so that the cuts heal before winter. Plants pruned in spring or early summer “bleed” sap reducing the vigour of the plant.

THE weather people predict a hot summer ahead. At present, great gardening weather continues with regular rain. It is now 20 months since I activated the drip system and yet I see sprinklers going on lawns and gardens all the time, why?

Alan Titchmarsh, renowned English garden presenter, suggests that “rainfall is like money in the bank as far as plants are concerned. In spring, plants are putting on their greatest growth spurt and calling on plentiful water resources from the earth”. Right now the only plants that need watering are those newly planted. There is absolutely no need to water lawns unless turf has just been laid.

FOLLOWING my comments last week of living in green surroundings, I read that Dutch researchers have coined the term “Vitamin G” to measure the impact of green space on people’s health.

The research shows that the amount of green space in a person’s local environment was positively associated with perceived good health. The chance of feeling unhealthy being 1.5 times greater in environments with restricted green space. Depression was 1.3 times greater in areas with little green space.

AS part of ActewAGL’s Floriade sponsorship, the company is offering home owners a chance to win $1000 worth of tree surgery services. And if you don’t own a home in the ACT, you can go into a draw for a $500 hardware voucher. Winners will be drawn on Wednesday, October 17. Enter online at actewagl.com.au/floriade

ONE of the most popular features at Floriade is the Lindeman’s Open Garden. Visitors, including children, have been queuing to plant-up a hanging basket with flowers or herbs. For some, this is possibly their first taste of gardening. Once complete, the planted-up basket can either be taken home or hung on the six-metre-high “Hanging Basket Tree”. Meredith Kirton, with more than 20 years experience in horticulture, is on hand to help. Of course, if you are growing herbs (the easiest plants in the world to grow), you will want to know how to cook with them. This is where the indomitable Dominique Rizzo (seen on Channel 10’s “Ready, Steady Cook”) will be demonstrating her culinary talent.

Do and don’t…


  • DO not prune deciduous trees until the end of October. With sap rising the cuts, will bleed profusely, setting back the wounds healing process.

  • With the prospect of frosts still to come, DON’T hurry to plant tomatoes, unless you cover them every night. Wait until after Melbourne Cup Day.

  • DO not water bulbs at all at this time.

  • DO spread mulch. What type? Go to www.cedricbryant.com, click on my Cedfacts Information Sheet “Mulch to Conserve Moisture”.

  • DO think about reducing the number of pots that need hand watering. Can they be planted in the ground?

  • AND snails are on the move, use organic Multiguard Snail and Slug Killer, safer for pets.

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Cedric Bryant
Trained horticulturist and garden designer with over 30 years experience in the industry.

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