Q. First of all, thank you for your Gardening Q&A in the Review Journal. I have found it to be most helpful in establishing my garden in Nevada. It is a constant learning experience to find what will grow best with the considerations of water and what the rabbits won't eat.
I have questions regarding the Australian Bottle Tree in our front yard. (see attached pictures). Should we trim and shape the tree? It has grown to a considerable height. The wind, appearance, and mostly health of the tree are our concerns. Does the cracking and area of darkness on the trunk need addressing? And should I wrap the trunk in winter? We are at 3000 feet in Anthem and sometimes have a slightly lower winter temperature range.
A. Very nice looking tree. Personally, I would not do anything to it. I know it may not look picture perfect but that is what can be charming about native trees used in our environment.
As it grows more it will naturally fill in some of the void's. You could prune it to shape it a bit but be very careful when you do this and do not change it radically or the plant will respond the way it wants to and you may not like it.
You could identify some of the tallest limbs and bring the height of the tree back down so that it's similar to the rest. Shaping probably shouldn't have occurred a little bit earlier and you could have avoided some of this but you could do some light pruning on this tree if you want to. That is your call and I know that you may not be entirely pleased with its informal look. But don't do anything dramatic to it or you could end up with some problems such as sunburn on the lower limbs and some die back.
If you are going to do it, do it this winter and do it yourself or hire someone who has a good reputation with shaping trees. This tree is a focal point on your property.