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Garden Early Spring 2015

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Australian Painted Lady Butterfly

Australian Painted Lady Butterfly

What a glorious spring morning now, very clear blue sky and the air is still with hardly any wind blowing. Now and then the silence is broken by the chirping noise of birds. The temperature will reach 27 deg. C, and right now is a pleasant 23 deg.

The garden is fragrant with so many spring blooms. With more than enough rainwater during the winter, all plants look so healthy and luscious. Many honey bees and painted lady butterflies are busy themselves to get as much nectar as possible from one flower to another. Even some big flies are joining the feast.

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Reshaping Port Wine Magnolia

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Michelia figo - Port Wine Magnolia shorter new look.

Michelia figo – Port Wine Magnolia shorter new look.

Note January 18, 2015.

The Port Wine Magnolia aka. Michelia figo was getting taller, it almost reached the eaves. It was harder for me to reach the top when I had to trim it. Yesterday I cut the two-tier topiary shorter. More

Michelia yunnanensis ‘Scented Pearl’

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Michelia yunnanensis ‘Scented Pearl’ and Mirid Bugs

What I like most of this Michelia yunnanensis ‘Scented Pearl’ is the small size. It is perfect for a small garden or a small courtyard. Michelia yunnanensis is an evergreen shrub/small tree from Yunnan and surrounding area in China. It is hardy and respond well to trimming and shaping. The Scented Pearl sp. has pure white flowers as big as a 50 cent coin, while another species has yellow blooms. The sweet scent is very delicate. The hairy flower buds have an attractive copper colour.

We have had this plant for many years and it is only about one and half meter high. It has a habit of having horizontal branches, and I always trim them to make the plant grow rounder and compact. This is spring time here in Melbourne now and it has exceptionally outstanding flowers – so many flowers, the best as long I can remember. Among the leaves and flowers, I saw quite a few of bugs breeding ( I think they are some kind of stink  mirid bugs). I leave them alone and I just hope they will not do damage later on.

Michelia yunnanensis ‘Scented Pearl’

‘Scented Pearl’ – Michelia yunnanensis

 

Port Wine Magnolia

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Port Wine Magnolia or Michelia figo is an attractive little shrub with mass of small flowers. The flowers themselves are insignificant compared to their unusual fruity scent. Some people compare the sweet scent to very ripe banana or  port wine, but to me, it is more like a cocktail of many fruits mixed together. I imagine the smell is like the mixture of banana, apple, pear, pineapple, passionfruit, mango, kiwi fruit and water melon :o)

When the sun is shining bright and the weather is warm, the fruity fragrance lingers and it gets really strong if you have a sniff at the shy little flowers. I say shy because many of them are hidden behind the green glossy leaves:o) and once open they are very fragile. They fall apart at the slightest touch.

About the plant:

  • Port Wine Magnolia – Michelia figo – Banana Shrub
  • Evergreen native to China
  • Slow growing up to 4 m high
  • Thick glossy leaves
  • Small  beige-pink flowers with purple tinge around the edges
  • Fruity fragrance
  • Neutral to Acidic soil
  • Full sun or Semi shade
  • Temperate to Cool climate – avoid heavy frost
  • Respond well to trimming
  • Suitable for hedges

We planted our port-wine magnolia long time ago (don’t remember when) and it seems that it has no problems and it survives the extreme heat of Melbourne summer. We have shaped ours into an informal 2 tiered topiary and regular trimmings make the plant grow compact and neat. Once established, it will be happy to be left alone. I hardly water it (only when the summer is very dry) but I apply slow released fertiliser once a year.  I also use some mulch to keep the soil cool and moist.