Garden lore

” I had never ‘taken a cutting’ before…. Do you not realise that the whole thing is miraculous? It is exactly as though you were to cut off your wife’s leg, stick it in the lawn, and be greeted on the following day by an entirely new woman, sprung from the leg, advancing across the lawn to meet you.”

Down the Garden Path by Beverley Nicholls (1932)

007 - Copy Leaf drop – evergreen, semi evergreen or deciduous

All plants lose a full set of leaves every year so the search engine terms I see like “a michelia that doesn’t drop leaves” shows a lamentable lack of understanding. What varies is how long the plants hold onto individual leaves and when they drop them. Deciduous plants drop them in one hit, triggered by declining day length in temperate and cool climates (ie autumn) or by the dry season in the tropics where day length stays constant. Semi deciduous plants usually drop all their leaves just as the new ones are coming through so the plant has a very short period without full foliage. Some plants will drop a lot of foliage around flowering time – Michelia Silver Clouds is an example of this.

Many evergreen plants gently drop old leaves all the time. It is just so gradual you don’t really notice it but you will see a build up of leaf litter below. The length of time an individual leaf stays on the plant can vary from a few months for bulbs to several years for bushy, dense evergreen plants but sooner or later, every leaf will either fall or wither away. A stressed plant will drop more leaves. It is the plant’s way of trying to reduce evapotranspiration (moisture loss).

If you want a plant which never drops leaves, you will have to keep to plastic or fabric. Living things have to renew themselves

First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.