By Albert G
At the last meeting I did a bit of initial styling on a Melalueca Bracteata (aka Black Tea Tree). This species is found around many areas of Australia including SE QLD. It has small pointy dark green leaves with small fluffy white flowers in Spring. The bark is fissured and turns black on mature trees, hence the common name. There are other cultivars commonly sold, such as Revolution Gold.
This specimen was obtained as tube stock 5-8 years ago and grown in a 30cm nursery pot. It was repotted into the shallower nursery pot last year and has recovered well. I have found that Natives in general (figs excluded) do not like their roots disturbed too much, but can handle them being pruned. I use the slicing method where sections of root are cut off with a saw and the remainder of the root ball is aerated with a steel poker. I use a sharpened old screwdriver for this task. Wedges can also be removed in subsequent repots to refresh the soil closer to the base. I use a water tray during the hotter months to avoid the soil drying out.
The tree portrays an elegant trunk line and I styled it thinking of it having spent its life growing on a rocky bluff in a harsh environment. As the tree grew taller, the lower branches that were shaded died off and fell, similar to what our eucalypts would do. The photo shown is the current status of the tree. I put raffia and wire on the top section and bent it back, as the top part of the trunk went in the opposite direction of the rest of the trunk movement. The dead portion at the top is currently being used as an anchor point, but will be reduced later. I feel it fits the story for this particular tree to not have much dead portions, especially in the top section.
The tree will be left for about a month to allow it to recover from the bending in the top section. I will then do the fine wiring to set the smaller branching. The drawing to the left shows what I expect the tree to look like in the future. I have chosen a Marie Hewartson pot that I think complements this tree very well. It has a rough surface with an uneven edge. I will repot this in the coming spring, but may reduce the roots in two stages if I don’t think it can be safely reduced in one go.