Here’s a frustrating fact about gum trees: they break.
Winter’s still here, reminding us not to forget about it too soon. We had a bad windstorm earlier this month with 110 km/h gusts rattling through the suburbs. There were local reports of fallen trees and power lines, but no major damage as far as I’m aware. It could have been a lot worse. But I was still dismayed to come home and discover that the primary branches of our backyard gum tree had snapped.
Our tree, back in happier days. I always thought this branch would snap first.
Gum trees — eucalyptus — thrive in every climate on this big brown continent, from desert scrub to rainforest to alpine woodland. They can even handle bushfires, maybe a little too well in fact — they’re full of flammable oil and have been known to explode when fires roll through (!). Dry or wet, hot or cold, they can deal with it all. I know our tree will send off new green shoots and survive just fine, just like many of the gum trees that were hit by bushfires along the Tasman Peninsula, but it’s not looking too hot right now.
The tree in our yard is a decorative bloodwood (Corymbia), a close relative of eucalyptus that looks more or less the same. (It’s called ‘bloodwood’ because it oozes red sap from its wounds. How creepy and cool.) They’re a commonly planted ornamental gum, since they’re medium-sized trees that flower prolifically in summer. Here’s a couple of shots I took in February of its bright pink flowers.
Birds love the tree, especially when it flowers. This little guy is one of the native lorikeets. Mishka likes to watch the birds, but she was an indoor cat for so long that she’s really, really bad at hunting and the birds just laugh at her and fly away.
The tree also produces gargantuan gumnuts, over an inch long and wide, and it clings onto them like they’re little nuggets of gold. I’m kicking myself for not getting the tree thinned out, because I’m pretty sure the weight from all those nuggets is what caused the canopy to collapse in high winds. Gahhhh.
So yeah. This tree has been through, what, thirty, forty, fifty winters? And this is the one that did it in. It’s the only tree in the mixed border, and it’s now missing a third of its canopy. I’m in denial. This didn’t happen, this didn’t happen. Jamie removed the broken branches, but cutting the stump back a bit will clean it up and make it look less raw, I hope.
Seriously, tree? My jalapeño plants can survive a Tasmanian winter and you can’t?
I mean, sure, they’re in pots. They hang out in a sunny, sheltered spot. I bring them inside when there’s potential for frost and I tell them they’re my special little guys. But they’re still super delicate and my point still stands, so hmph.
Ugh. I’m going to end this post with my cheery little gang of succulents, who don’t care about rain or wind and have no emotions one way or another about fallen trees. Feel free to tell me about your garden heartbreaks. Even when you know it’s all going to be okay or that it doesn’t matter in the long run, garden setbacks can still be a major bummer.
I love that you write with such knowledge and affection for Australian native trees and plants. I’m sorry about your gum. Don’t feel bad, real Aussie trees don’t need pruning! On a positive note, your succulents look fantastic. I know where to come for advice when I have my first dabble with succulents in a year or two.
It’s true! Real Aussie trees can absolutely hold their own. I’m learning what I can about Australian plants, they’re interesting!
We all get old & more fragile. Count yourself lucky that it didn’t take out any structures when it broke.
That’s very true, I’m relieved it didn’t cause any damage. I’m also glad it didn’t squash either of the camellias underneath. 🙂
Oh and congrats on the jalapenos surviving!
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