“Against the uniform sheet of snow and the greyish winter sky the Italian villa loomed up rather grimly; even in summer it kept its distance, and the boldest coleus bed had never ventured nearer than thirty feet from its awful front.”
Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence (1920)
Garden Lore: Friday 31 October
Root stock can try and make a bid for freedom instead of keeping to its place below ground, even on well established trees, as seen here. I know this is escaping root stock because it flowered white a good two weeks before the froth of pink in the main tree unfurled, as well as coming into leaf earlier. It will need to be removed. Root stock is usually vigorous and prefers its own shoots to the grafted top so will put its energies there first, if it can. From time to time, people contact us saying things like: “I bought a white magnolia but now most of the flowers are pink and we only get a few white blooms”. Escaped root stock is invariably the answer. Keep the base of the plant clear of any fresh growth.
Sometimes you can buy fruit trees which have more than one variety grafted on top – maybe two or three different apples grafted onto the one set of roots. These are designed for tiny town gardens to give a range of different produce or sometimes to give the necessary pollinators in order to get any fruit set at all. That is fine as long as the nursery understands the need to graft varieties with compatible growth habits. If one is stronger than the other, it will take over and the weaker variety is likely to die over time.
First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.