Barbie's garden Gardening Home page features Trees

Tea Tree Wonder

I have been surprised this week with a flushing Tea Tree – in full bloom!! This is the first time !! I have had a few bottle brush flowers but this is spectacular!! I think this tree is about 4-5 years old! This year it has grown to quite a size, and we hold the secret to great growth with all our trees (mostly fruit trees) in our back garden!!

The flowers are really so pretty and they have such a delicate smell – a mix between honey suckle and roses!!

The amazing thing is that – when you look closer, the flowers were full of blueflies (we call them brommers (Afrikaans))!!

This was so unusual! We were not hassled by these flies. In fact, we do not get a lot of these flies around! It looked as if they were only in this tree and in a trance while rubbing themselves in the white bristles of the flower – almost as if they were drunk on the nectar!

Then, a few hours later (at about 5pm) they were all gone. Where did they go?? Nowhere to be seen.

Can anyone explain this to me!?? I recon that because these trees come from Australia, they have to attract other insects (maybe bees are scarce) to pollenate them!! And so the FLY!!

Here is some info (ref: wikipedia)

Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) commonly known as narrow-leaved paperbark, narrow-leaved tea-tree, narrow-leaved ti-tree, or snow-in-summer, is a species of tree or tall shrub in the myrtle family, Myrtaceae. Native to Australia, it occurs in southeast Queensland and the north coast and adjacent ranges of New South Wales. It grows along streams and on swampy flats, and is often the dominant species where it occurs. Melaleuca alternifolia is a small tree to about 7 metres (20 ft) with a bushy crown and whitish, papery bark. Leaves are linear, smooth and soft. They are also rich in oil with the glands prominent. Complementary and alternative medicines with tea tree (melaleuca) oil have become increasingly popular in recent decades. This essential oil has been used for almost 100 years in Australia but is now available worldwide both as neat oil and as an active component in an array of products. The primary uses of tea tree oil have historically capitalized on the antiseptic and anti-inflammatory actions of the oil.

Flowers occur in fluffy white masses of spikes (like a bottle brush) and over a short period, mostly spring to early summer. They have a small woody, cup-shaped fruit, 2–3 millimetres  in diameter are scattered along the branches.

I love this tree – not only because it is so pretty – but because of its valuable essential oil. I one day want to extract tea tree oil!! Has anyone ever tried this??? Please let me know – I would love to learn how to do this!

Happy gardening xxxx


Barbie's garden Gardening Home page features Miscellaneous Trees

Leopard Tree in May

I have to highlight this special tree – my Leopard Tree (caesalpinnea ferrea). I have to stand in awe sometimes when I walk out on my front deck and see the Leopard Tree going through it’s next seasonal change. (previous post on the leaves here) It literally changes from week to week. The bark is now maturing and the beautiful colours are coming through. This is the reason it is called a Leopard Tree because of its spotted bark. It is also known as a Brazilian Ironwood Tree.





This is such a beautiful tree and when full grown will give us a beautiful canopy – can’t wait! I can see the difference in size and shape between the two trees I have – the one in the background is obviously younger. It is also a different shape and colour. The bark has not yet matured and it’s cycle is so different to the one in the grass feature. For instance, it flowered and sprouted new leaves 2-3 months behind the other tree. It gets the same water and feeding time as the other Leopard Tree. Hmmm… maybe we need to give it more love!

Oh look – today the bark is curling and peeling!! I believe this shows the age of the tree, by the colour of the bark.

Enjoy your garden. As you can see, I have lots of cleaning up to do this week xxxxx




Christine's garden Gardening Home page features Trees

I hugged a tree and I liked it

Some tree hugger in Austin, Texas told me to do it! But unlike Cat who has photographic evidence, there was nobody around to catch me in the act so I can’t prove it. But I hugged my tree today. And it didn’t feel weird. Really it didn’t. Try it!

And I found a really welcome little surprise. The Star Jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) which I have growing at the base of the huge tree that stands in my front garden, has attached itself at various places and is starting to wind its way around the tree, in what seems to be a “hug”. Given the size of the little Star Jasmine and that of the big tree it might take years before it looks impressive, but I love the idea that one day this massive trunk may be smothered in this sweet Jasmine.

I hugged a tree

[one_third]The big tree …The tree ...[/one_third]

[one_third]a closer viewThe tree ...[/one_third]

[one_third_last]Star Jasmine hugs the treeStar Jasmine hugs the tree[/one_third_last]

When last did you hug a tree?

You can get a perspective of the size of this tree in the second photograph – note the size of the bird bath in the lower left corner.

Happy Gardening


Christine's garden Gardening Home page features Perenniels Trees

The Second of my Twelve

Diana asks this month to choose a tree with your heart. That one tree you will always plant, always want to have in your garden. If you have a new garden you will look for a place to plant it. That’s how much you love that tree! Well here’s my problem. In my “Garden of Twelve”, I already have a tree – an existing Betula pendula, Silver Birch. And it is a small bed. So planting another tree is not an option. So my favourite won’t make it to the Garden of Twelve.

My favourite tree is Pittosporum eugenioides ‘Variegata’ and I have two in my back garden. That tree that would go everywhere with me. Come enter my little forest with me and see how this tree lightens up the otherwise rather dark area.

Made with new software, I’m playing around with panoramas. Its lots of fun. Here you see a portion of my back garden, photographed and stitched together from three photographs. From the one Pittosporum to the other. This is the “youngest” area of my garden. Apart from the mature trees, every other plant here in this area, including the Pittosporums, all the Camellias etc. were planted 17 months ago. Everything had been ripped out of this bed and the shock to my system afterwards was great. I hated seeing the walls, I loathed seeing the neighbour roof and house. But now seventeen months later I am seeing the plants fill out and its starting to look fairly nice. It’s still my least favourite park of the garden but I spend the most time here now adding plants, trying new things and trying to make it a lovely place to just “be”. It’s the area favoured by birds. On any afternoon in the last few weeks you will find all sorts of birds here.

Panorama of the area with the two trees

The arrows mark the Pittosporums. Imagine how dark it might be without them twinkling in there. (The photo enlarges if you click on it).


And here are the gorgeous trees

[one_third]The Pittosporum on the left …The Pittosporum on the left ...[/one_third]

[one_third]Foliage detailFoliage detail[/one_third]

[one_third_last]Pittosporum on the rightThe gorgeous Pittosporum on the right[/one_third_last]

A last look at before and after …

[one_half]This was taken in December 2010This was taken in December 2010[/one_half]

[one_half_last]And taken 14 months later, in Febraury 2012And taken in Febraury 1012[/one_half_last]

So there you have my FAVOURITE shrub or tree.

What’s your favourite? Join Diana at Elephant’s Eye in her monthly “Dozen for Diana” meme. (Dozen for Diana by Elephant’s Eye  – on the 3rd Friday of every month Diana invites you to write a plant portrait. “I challenge you, in 2012, each month choose a plant. Archived pictures of flowers, berries, autumn leaves, wildlife endorsing your choice. Start fresh – what will be your signature plant?”).

The look I’m going for … woodland or mini-forest – this photo below taken at and angle and hiding the wall. I’m planting now for flowers in this garden. Japanese anemones are about to bloom, Digitalis planted for colour, Camellias and Azaleas will do their thing again and in Spring we have Freesias and other bulbs.

The look I'm going for ... woodland or mini-forest

Happy Gardening


Barbie's garden Do it yourself Gardening Home page features Miscellaneous Trees

The Mighty Mugwood Tree

Well, the tree finally found itself into our front garden – the Mighty Mugwood tree. This work of art was the idea of my husband when he brought home two crates of metal mugs. He came up with the idea of a big tree. I was so enthusiastic with my hubby’s interest in the garden that I was immediately supportive and said the big old lavender can now move. Well, the rest you can see for yourself in the photo sequence.  I love the new look and it wasn’t long when the neighbourhood came to see the Mugwood Tree. We’ve had a few visitors driving by to take pictures! We hope you enjoy it with us xxx

[one_half]Goodbye my old lavender[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Cleared area for our tree[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Here comes the tree[/one_half]

[one_half_last]All done – but wait…something missing[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Now for the fruit[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Adding the final touch[/one_half_last]

[one_half]All done![/one_half]

[one_half_last]Part of the front garden[/one_half_last]

Christine's garden Gardening Home page features Trees

Tree ID help

I was lured out back today by endless chirping of birds and found, to my delight, that there is a new type of bird visiting my garden. Tiny little birds, hanging out and darting around on the huge Hibiscus. I tried to photograph them but they were too quick for me and once Dexter started running around and bringing me his ball to throw, they took off.

The Dove however, not intimidated by rambunctious Rottweilers, was content to perch in the tree and check us out which it did for ages. Isn’t it cute …

The Dove

Which brings me to my question … The dove is sitting in the now bare tree. I don’t know what type of tree this is and I forgot to write down what the Tree Guy told me. (I don’t think he did tell me about this tree as it was bare when he was here and they didn’t do anything to it).

Here is what it looks like in the height of summer …

Tree ID help

I would really like to know what tree this is. If anyone can help me identify it I will be very grateful.

You can click to enlarge these two photos for more detail:

[one_half]What tree is this?[/one_half]

[one_half_last]What tree is this?[/one_half_last]

PS: I’ve trawled tree ID websites and all my books and I am none the wiser.

Happy gardening

Barbie's garden Gardening Home page features Trees

The big Leopard Tree planting!

Hi Chris, I know you are dying to see the beautiful trees I bought and that arrived this week! They are Leopard Trees or another name is Brazilian Ironwood (Caesalpinia Ferrea). They prefer full sun and are tender to frost. It is deciduous and waterwise (yeay!). One of the most attractive trees, its grey bark peels off to reveal dark brown underneath. Red foliage emerges in Spring which matures to fine, attractive, acacia-like green leaves which provide dappled shade. Bearing clusters of yellow flowers in summer.  They are also relatively fast growing. 

I totally LOVE my new trees!  So now you can see the whole sequence of events! Even the arduous digging. We have such hard clay soil that you need a buzzdozer or a pick axe and muscles like Schwazzenager to get through. It was so tough to do this, and I needed the help of my hubby but even this was not enough. We had to take days to add water to soften the area. It nearly didn’t happen when my hubby said, “That’s it – just add more water and make it a pond. Bring the koi!!!” But we managed – just, just! You will see – I’m smiling for the camera but I was just exhausted!! I could hardly believe that I had the endurance to keep going. We had to dig a hole 1.1m x 1.1m x .7m for a 250 litre tree which stood 3.5m high! I even surprized myself. I guess it is all the bending in the garden for 6 years! Builds a strong back!

Ok here are the photos! Enjoy!! xxxxxx

[one_half]Hard work this hole digging!The BIG hole[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Using a Koevoet to break the ground!Backbreaking![/one_half_last]

[one_half]Trees SA Arrive!Trees SA arrive as promised![/one_half]

[one_half_last]Bringing in the treesBring in the Trees![/one_half_last]

[one_half]My first tree!My first Tree![/one_half]

[one_half_last]My second Tree!My second Tree![/one_half_last]

[one_half]Adding the stakes!Adding the stakes![/one_half]

[one_half_last]Isn't she beautiful?She’s a beauty![/one_half_last]

I wish to say thank you to Trees SA for the great experience. The staff were on time, professional, speedy and efficient – as well as friendly. I highly recommend Trees SA! I’m going to post a special review for Trees SA so stay posted!

So Chris, so when are you coming to visit so we can have a “dop onder die bome”!! 🙂

Flickr Photo Gallery of the Big Leopard Tree Planting …

Christine's garden Gardening Home page features Trees

Good, bad or just ugly?

I got a bit of a fright today when I was weeding in my back garden. In the very shaded area which I would classify as “deep shade” there stand a few trees. I’d recently had some branches pruned off them as well as had foliage cut back from trees that were threatening to break through our bedroom windows and had never examined the trees in any real detail before. They were just there. Until today when I was removing weeds in this area and suddenly found myself staring at this …

Good, bad or ugly?

To be totally honest, I think its sort of beautiful. Interesting, different and alive. And I stood staring at it in awe for a while, took the photos and only after downloading them to my computer and really examining it in detail did it occur to me that this may not be interesting or beautiful at all, and that I might need to do something about it.

Is there something wrong with the tree? I’d really appreciate advice and opinions on this. Do I leave it and enjoy it or is it some horrible I have to deal with?

Happy gardening

Barbie's garden Gardening Home page features Trees

New Fruit in my Garden

Guava TreeI am so excited to see my guava tree (it looks like a bush at the moment!) is growing nicely. It was so badly diseased that I chopped it completely back. Now, it has broad, healthy leaves and a few new guavas!!! Hopefully I can boast a crop this year!

Guavas is among the most popular of all fruits – they are full of vitamin C! It can be eaten raw or cooked, made into jam, jelly or fruit juice. They originated from the tropics but are very adaptable. They will grow in virtually any soil as long as it is well drained. It does love a sunny position and also loves to be kept well watered, especially when it is in flower. Best results is to feed in early summer and in autumn.

The tree should be pruned and fed in October. The fruit is ready to be picked when it is soft to the touch and when the skin has turned from green to yellow. This is usually in April.

Biggest pest is the fruit fly, so watch out for these.

Reference: “Food from your Garden” by J G Simpson

Christine's garden Gardening Home page features Trees

Angel’s Trumpet

I have this very large evergreen shrub in the back garden (I actually refer to as a tree because it is as tall as my Pepper tree). During my “Tree Identification Mission” I have now learnt that it’s botanical name is Brugmansia x Candida and its common name is Angel’s trumpet. It’s flower does indeed look trumpet-like, they are large (about a foot long) and obvious in the garden especially once they fall off  and lie in and amongst the plants and mulch below. It’s a good thing its tucked at the back of the garden as I’ve now learnt that all parts of the plant are poisonous if ingested.

In my garden this large shrub is a real performer. It has been flowering profusely all summer long even now at a time when others have stopped, the huge white trumpet-like flowers continue to hang like fluted bells and attact birds and bees to my garden.

[one_half]Angel's Trumpet[/one_half]

[one_half_last]Angel's Trumpet[/one_half_last]

My opinion? For what its worth, I’m not overly fond of this shrub / tree. It is not the most attractive in my garden, I don’t like the mess the flowers make once dropped off the tree and … well, its just not a favourite. On the up side, I’ve paid it no special attention and its flowered all summer long, so it seems to be a low maintenance shrub in my garden.