Apples Tress, Plumeria & Snow in Art's Garden

Apple trees, at least, are very long lived, and why not try growing a Plumeria? Also, new snow on my garden!
by Art Drysdale
by Art Drysdale


Art Drysdale, a life-long resident of Toronto and a horticulturist well known all across Canada, is now a resident of Parksville, British Columbia on Vancouver Island, just north of Nanaimo. He has reno-vated an old home and has a new garden there. His radio gardening vignettes are heard in south-western Ontario over radio station Easy 101 FM out of Tillsonburg at 2 PM weekdays.

Art also has his own website at

March 4, 2007

Above, Al and Val’s two fruit trees which seem in need of some TLC and a typical flower cluster from the wonderfully fragrant Plumeria, the flower used to make the famous Hawaiian Leys! Below, four shots of my garden just this past Thursday. Author photos.

Al and Val Griffiths of unknown location wrote to Donna Dawson recently: “We have an apple tree and a pear tree that are falling over in our yard. We desperately want to save them. We have included photos and would appreciate any advice you could give us regarding this problem.”

They included a number of photos of the two trees, and I have included two of them with this item.

It is always difficult to diagnose an ailment without actually seeing the plant in question. In this case, the question is what is causing the two trees to lean. I think Al and Val need to call in a reputable tree company to examine the trees. It may be that the roots on one side of one or both of the trees may have been cut or otherwise sacrificed and that is what is causing the leaning. If that is the case, likely a strong stake placed several metres away from the trunk so that the tree trunk may be cabled (using the equivalent of clothes line wire and pieces of rubber hose around the wire where it comes in contact with the tree trunk) and pulling it tight may be all that is needed. The wires should ideally have a turnbuckle on them so they can be tightened a couple of times a year. Eventually the tree will either be straightened, or at least the degree of lean will not get any worse.

On the other hand, the problem(s) may be caused by disease or rotting of part of the root system, and that would need to be corrected as soon as possible. If Al and Val are located in southern Ontario, I recommend they contact my friend Ian Bruce of the Bruce Tree Expert Company (416-252-8769). He would make a charge to see the tree but they would have the satisfaction of knowing exactly what the trouble is and the best way to solve it. Sorry I cannot shed more light.

I should add that the obvious comment in looking at the trees in the photos Al and Val sent is that, as Donna said in her note to me “These look quite old, perhaps they have reached their limit?” However, that is actually not the case, especially with the apple tree. It could well live many more decades. Apples are known as very long-lived trees, and often with little or no special care! So, if you like the tree, and/or the fruit, it is likely worth having it checked out as suggested.

John Plue of Whitby Ontario wrote recently about one of my favourite flowering shrubs/trees: “I know you are swamped with queries on gardening, but there is no hurry for a response to this, if you can. We had the great good fortune to experience the absolute joys of Plumeria when we spent several weeks in the Hawaiian Islands. Do you know if Plumeria will survive (obviously in-door) in our southern Ontario climate? Thank you.”

I have, over time, known folks who have grown Plumeria either in their garden for the summer and then moving it (them) into a heated garage or equivalent for the several months of dormancy; or in a conservatory 12 months of the year. You may wish to try the same. I think what you need to do is read up on the genus, and the best way of doing that is by checking some of the informative Websites on the topic. The Plumeria Society of America, for example, has an excellent site ( ) and if you join you also get their newsletter Plumeria Potpourri.

You may find that the beginning of a brand new hobby and that whenever you travel to warmer climates, you’ll be meeting up with other avid hobbyists.

As I write this on Friday night, I am only three nights from being in Toronto for the Canada Blooms and Successful Gardening shows. I hope to see many of you at one or the other (or both) shows. Yesterday, we had a surprise here for the first day of March. Only one day previously we had spent much of the day out pruning (severely) the Douglas fir hedge that divides us from our (friendly) neighbours on one side. That night I drove to Nanaimo (only 20 minutes) and on my way back I wondered if I was going to make it with my low profile summer tires! I did, but I had to turn around once and go back when I could not make it up a small hill. The alternate route was slightly better. By the next morning everything was covered with about 7-8 cm of snow, although the temperature was relatively mild and so it started melting immediately.

Since we don’t often see that, I took a couple of photos of the garden early in the morning of March 1, and you’ll see those included here. Our white crocus, in particular, looked very interesting both covered, and slightly later, surrounded with the “white stuff.”

Our walkway is bordered with two types of heather, one the winter flowering Kramer’s Red (Erica x darleyensis) and the other the summer flowering pink George Fraser (Erica tetralix). The Kramer’s Red are just coming into their best now, although they have been showing reasonable colour for two months already. I could not resist taking a shot of just one of these plants, as well as our large pond with the fountain bubbling well.

Nothing would be harmed with that fall of snow, although if it had not melted so quickly, many rhododendron fanciers would (or should) have been out knocking the snow off in order to prevent damage in case it should turn colder and the snow turn to ice.

We also have miniature daffodils in full colour bud, as well as several early flowering shrubs in flower. Hopefully when I return in the third week of March, there will be much more in colour to report.


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