Special care ensures a ripe old age

Juvenile trees at the Botanic Garden. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
Juvenile trees at the Botanic Garden. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
When your average lifespan is 150 to 200 years or more, then it’s probably all right to be referred to as a juvenile when you’re nearly 40.

Several lawn areas in the lower gardens have a number of juvenile specimen trees. Pictured in the photo (from left) are the cut leaf beech, Fagus sylvatica var. heterophylla f. laciniata (age 33), Fagus sylvatica Dawyck (36), Fagus sylvatica Dawyck Purple (36), Fagus sylvatica Ansorgei (18) and Fagus sylvatica Luteovariegata (27).

Juvenile trees get extra special care to make sure they grow as strong, healthy, and well-shaped as possible. They are not planted directly into the lawn, but within a circle of garden created around each young plant.

This creates a buffer protecting the tree from mower damage, compaction, competing weeds, even people and allows the gardener to mulch, feed and irrigate the root-ball easily.

It is never too early to start formative pruning a young tree into your desired shape.

The process is based on a mixture of science and art. You need good practical skills and an eye for the finished product.

The smaller the branches, the more quickly they heal and callous over.

Now is a great time of year to plant trees. Even long-established gardens need young plants to eventually replace the mature plants.

Though we may never sit in the shade of the future giant we plant today, we can appreciate the joy of our great-grandchildren sitting under the canopy in 100 years’ time.

Garden Life is produced by Dunedin Botanic Garden. For further information contact Marianne Groothuis.


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