Celebrating today with cake and a tree planting, the Australian Insitute of Horticulture gets ready to turn 50 (on 22 November 2010). Five months younger than me and 144 years and five months younger than Sydney's Botanic Gardens, it's a youngster really.
Jonathan Garner (an M of the AIH) spoke passionately (can he speak otherwise!) about growing the perfect plant. In the beautiful surrounds of the Maiden Theatre at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Jonathan derided the poor attention given to tree plantings.
Jonathan showed examples of trees planted too deep, in compacted soil, too close to one another (or when deliberatedly planted close for an early impact, a lack of will later on to remove every second tree) and pruned poorly. He argues that in cultivation we have the chance to allow a plant to "grow to its genetic potential" but seldom encourage this to happen.
As always, Jonathan had some nice lines, such as "planting trees is a gift for the future", and some nice advice, such as care for a tree well over the first three months (including good watering) and you'll set it up for life.
Following the talk and cake-cutting, NSW President of the Australian Institute of Horticulture, Richard May, planted a Coachwood (Ceratopetalum apetalum) in our new Australian Palm Garden. This garden is to the north-west of the Palm Grove and will be part of our replanting of 200 different species of palm (from Australia and overseas) in this area when our flying fox friends leave the Gardens.
At the request of the Institute, the roots of the Coachwood were soaked in molasses and seaweed solution. While the Botanic Gardens Trust doesn't 'endorse' molasses as a planting pre-treatment we understand it might encourage microbial growth and we don't think it does anything bad to the tree. There is a little bit of testing going on at the moment and we look forward to hearing that it proves to be a good technique.
Images: The cake and Richard May; the coachwood and Richard (the latter working out which end to put in the soil); and the sign marking the occasion of the cake, coachwood, Richard and the other members of the Australian Institute of Horticulture.