Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Friday, April 21, 2006

My favourite Tree trunks; and on village life.

OK, I know it is a bit weird to have favourite tree trunks, but bear with me.

The Botanic Gardens (ANBG) is housed within a natural forest, (see photo at left) of mixed Eucalyptus tree species. In simple terms they are smooth barked "gum" trees and rough barked, "stringybarks". They look completely different, but they are all related - part of a huge and varied genus of plants.

Please don't try and tie me up with the details of the species, (I am not a specialist). There are a many endemic (local, natually occurring) species on Black Mountain, the site of these Gardens, in Canberra. But in reality, the dominant species are probably only 4 or 5 in number. Over the last 57 years, hundreds of other Australian Eucalypt species have been plants throughout the Gardens (they were not officially opened till 1967 - see this link for the chronology of the Gardens).

But my favourite trees are the really old, gnarled natural trees, especially this huge old "Brittle Gum" - (Eucalyptus maculata).

It is about 20 metres tall, and close to 35 metres wide. To me, it is the treasure of the Gardens. And it is simply an old tree, growing where it always has done so.

This particular tree has been shaped by the forces of nature. It is also a favourite with kids, and its bark has been rubbed smooth, low down, where thousands of kids have "patted" this tree. I like that kids "relate" to Nature in this way. Technically, they are not allowed to, but the guides and explainers never really seem to manage to see it happening!

The tree's trunk has been been split, probably by lightning, at some stage after it had matured. This is not clearly visible in this photo - the damage is at the far side of the base of the trunk. but, the whole tree is out of balance, and it must have leaned over at some satage, till it propped itself up with its lower branches.

I would acknowledge that the tree has shaped and modified by "arborists" - in the interest of "public liability", etc, no doubt. In fact, they have removed most of those branches which were once propping up the tilted tree. But it is surviving well.But it beauty is entirely Natural.

Many of these trees have remarkable individual variation between them, in shape and colouration of bark.

When I was volunteering here, as a guide, I was frequently asked by North American visitors, (especially) why our trees were "naked". To people familiar with Pines, Elms, Oaks, etc they obviously seems that way.

In fact these smooth barked "gums" (and some of the related "Angopheras") shed their "outer bark" on an annual basis. The bark tends to fall away in smallish chunks, and the new bark (underneath) is often stained or coloured for a time (see next photo), before resuming the more normal white, silvery or pink colouration.

Here is another of my favourite trees - a classic tall, open specimen, in an area of lawn known as the Eucalypt Lawn. This area is very popular with visitors for summer picnics, and concerts are often held in this area, over the summer.

And now for something mischievous! I call this photo the "old man's pyjamas". Of course I have posted this photo upside down. The tree is growing normally. But the stained colour is completely natural.

Kindly allow me one little visual joke!

I decided to do this today, to allow my mind some relaxation from the Chemotherapy treatment I started this morning. Everything is fine, so far.


Thanks for the emailed wishes of support, especially from my friends at Robertson. I really value that friendly aspect of the Nature Of Robertson. It is a small township, a village, really, but the size of the settlement allows people to get to know eachother, through casual meeting at the Supermarket, at the Newsagency, at Churches, or, my favourite meeting place, the CTC.

Our society has lost so much through the formation of huge, anonymous cities. I believe the scale of villages suits humans better.


Anonymous said...

What do you mean old man's pyjamas? Glad to see you are still posting!

Sharon said...

I couldn't agree with you more Denis on your comment about villages... I can communicate with you via the most modern technology - but I don't even know my direct next door neighbour's name...

Denis Wilson said...

Anni. Well, there is not much of a "lump" in the trousers, but it was more the stained look that I was concentrating on. By the way, I am not yet that old - so I disclaim being the inspiration for the title.
Sharon. Nice to meet you. I found that moving to a place where I knew no-one was the best social move I ever made. I guess it forced me to become more sociable. But some communities do lend themselves more to meeting people. Whereas, a friendly approach - in a city - might be regarded as intrusion. People are frightened to make an initial approach, often - but others are often happy to be talked to. It is that judgement we have to make. Nice to talk with you via the Net, anyway.

Unknown said...

Denis, eucalypt trunks brought back some memories and have posted on these over at The Trad Pad at

Naturegirl said...

Denis one must have a sense of humor when undergoing treatment and you have that.I shall be learning much about nature in Australia through your eyes!I thank you for visiting my blog and for your comments!See you again!
P.S. I too LOVE peonies and already have taken photos of "the sprouting" through the ground for future post stay tuned!!

Denis Wilson said...

Hi NatureGirl. You may thank Miss Eagle for the link.
Anyway, you are welcome. My friend has a one-man nursery operation in Nova Scotia, but he has a good website, with lots of photos of the species Peonies. These are like
wild flowered plants, mostly, showing their relationship to Poppies. Lovely plants, though, and very reliable. have a look: Or you can search on "Summit Perennials".

Miss Robyn said...

Hi Denis, best of luck with your treatments. I am a survivor of 5 years now! I too, live in a village. Have lived in a village all my life and would not change it for the world, except maybe move to an even smaller one!

Denis Wilson said...

ms*robyn welcome too.
I saw your blog yesterday, and thought at first glance, that we had seemingly, so little in common.
Vintage housekeeping? Mine is so seldom achieved it is nearly vintage, but that is not your style, I fear. Indeed I like the look, but not the effort involved. I am more of an outdoors person. I have moved a little weatherboard cottage out from Sydney, to form my home. It has a pretty, yet basic design, but some nice features. It shall eventually be grateful to me that I saved it from demolition in Bankstown.
Nice to hear from you.
Where is Woodford, NSW? I know of one just over the border in Qld.
Grateful advice, so I can imagine your life the better. Only other blogger in Woodford is 20, likes wrecking cars, computers, etc. Perhaps a more typical resident? Sometimes the Internet helps us find new virtual neighbours, and build our own virtual community.