Ewen's garden

A collection of columns, paintings and photographs about gardening on an offshore island in New Zealand.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004


First off just a few notes more about genus Passiflora sp. the passion vines. The common edible passionfruit, P.edulis realy only does well for up to six years, beyond this it loses vigour and should be replaced with a new plant. It would seem they live fast die young, I guess this is in the nature of some things! To propagate, they are usually easy enough from seed; however of course P.x caeruleo-racemosa ‘Eynsford Gem’ does not produce fruit, and so must be propagated by heal cuttings of shoots taken in the spring. I believe most species can be reproduced in this way. As to the rest of their culture, they, like most subtropicals, prefer well drained soil and any pruning need only be carried out to keep the vine in check.

Unlike my tropical passion vine P.ligularis many plants are still soundly packed away, waiting for spring to unlock the tightly packed buds. For deciduous plants (those that loose their leaves in the winter) the first flush of spring growth is already neatly folded away within the buds. This all happens in the autumn and it is this little bit of knowledge that makes sense of spraying for such diseases as leaf curl in the autumn, when the new leaves are just being formed and can be damaged by the fungus. The spray most commonly used for leaf curl is copper. Did I spray my apple in the autumn to protect my new buds….no! I just didn’t get around to it, but I am not too worried, my tree will survive the season.

When you look inside a bud, you can easily, if carefully slice one open, you will be able to make out all the wee leaves, ready and waiting. What triggers the rush of growth is hormones, and they are usually moved into action by day length, and not so much by temperature. With the all clear, the plant starts to pump up the new leaves with water and they burst forth from beneath the bud scales and hey presto spring is

It would be difficult to consider spring without blossoms and flowers. Knowing which buds contain flowers and which contain only leaves is a useful tool for pruning. As a general rule, floral buds are fatter than foliar buds and if we are pruning a fruit tree this is of course important, as fruit follows flower. As I look out my window at the moment, a big fat kingfisher is using our Indian bead-tree Melia
azedarach as a perch (no doubt to spy on our newly acquired goldfish). This deciduous tree is native to northern India and China, and has white and purple star shaped flowers produced in summer. Therefore the buds at this time of year don’t contain any flower parts. The flowers are followed by yellow berries (beads) which hang from the branches. The name of bead-tree probably relates to the use of the bony
seeds be used by monks for roseary beads. Our tree will hopefully eventually provide summer shade for the vegetables and winter sun after the leaves are gone.

Next column I will address some aspects of pruning, not all as I don’t have room and besides there are plenty of publications with ample inches devoted to the subject.


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