Thursday, June 12, 2014

Dwarf Kowhai - Sophora 'Dragon's Gold'

This gorgeous small tree is extremely adaptable - topiary, hedging, shrub, or a small spreading tree. It all depends on how you train it. The best thing about the Dragons Gold is the fact it flowers over winter, and the waxeyes and fantail birds love it. It flowers from about April right through until September, whereas the full- sized kowhai (microphylla and tetraptera) only flower in one big show in late spring.

It flowers for about 6 months
I have kept the trunks clear, training these to be wonky standards
Piwakawaka (fantail) flittering around the trunk
These are some examples I have growing at my office. Some (above) I am training to be wonky standards, that will join to form a cloud formation in the middle of a circular garden. Just a bit of randomness!
A taller standard kowhai, in a pot close to a window, so the birds can be seen from close-up
Keeping this one trimmed as a ball. 
Then this hedge (below) I saw at the hockey grounds in Palmerston North. It looked fabulous as a big wide clipped hedge.



I will try and find photos of it as a tree, too. We have some we planted at Masonic Hospital a few years ago, that we have been taking the lower limbs off each year, as it grows. So now those trees are about 2.5m high, and can be underplanted with rengarenga lilies etc. And close to windows, so the Waxeyes can be seen from close by in the middle of winter. A great small tree for a smaller property. 

4 comments:

  1. Hi. I have two of these planted down the back of my section, they are approx 1 1/2-2 years old. I need to re-stake them and am not sure how to go about it as they don't really have a solid main trunk. DO you have any suggestions? They are getting a bit battered around in the wind (at present they are just on a single stake).

    Thank you

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi there
      I am by no means a tree expert - but in my experience the lower you tie the tree to the stake the better. Eg if you tie it too high (like over a metre high) then the tree becomes dependent on the stake for ever. The lower it is, the more the tree has to help itself by developing better roots. I think the general theory is about 1/3 to half the height of the tree. Tricky when multi branched, so is good to tie low before the branching takes place if possible (ie - might only be 30cm from the ground?). Make sure it is good wooden stake/batten (25mm minimum), and tough but stretchy ties - NEVER wire. We often use two opposite stakes, too. Tie each separately. Good luck.

      Delete
    2. I should have also said that the aim is to keep the roots solidly stable, but allow the branches to sway in the wind - that is what alerts the tree to growing strong roots.

      Delete
  2. Hi. I have two of these planted down the back of my section, they are approx 1 1/2-2 years old. I need to re-stake them and am not sure how to go about it as they don't really have a solid main trunk. DO you have any suggestions? They are getting a bit battered around in the wind (at present they are just on a single stake).

    Thank you

    ReplyDelete