eucalyptus blakelyii

DEATH OF A GIANT

When trees attack they often do so without warning.

A few months ago, a massive old eucalypt (I think Blakeley’s red gum, but my identification skills are poor)  in the crop paddock near the house suddenly turned into a crushing giant squid-shaped thing, demolishing fences and flattening my hopes of helping it live into another century.a mess of branches

Unluckily, it was in the path of a wind-storm, or a Willy Willy, a giant version of those dust devils you see swirling about in newly ploughed fields.   You could see the line of this twister down the hill from near 2916’s Esdale windbreak, where it took down two dead tree trunks, then the big Blakeley’s in its little compound, surrounded by young trees and shrubs planted in 2015,  then invisibly across the crop paddock to the trees over the trough in the Old Orchard, where it ripped off branches,  then straight at the old poplar by my new house entry gate, demolishing the side of the grid and smashing my little winged lion statue from Bali into tiny pieces of grey volcanic stone.

From there the storm  crossed the river to Adnamira and blew things about enough to make Richard Scanes comment “How about that wind storm?”.

I was very sorry to see my statue smashed, and the hard work that went into connecting up the automatic gate wasted, but the death of the old Blakeley’s was really upsetting.

I thought perhaps it had been secretly eaten away from the inside by termites, but when we looked at the raw, exposed trunk it was obvious the wind had simply wrenched it off its perfectly healthy base.downed tree ripped at base.jpgWhile Craig, Fabian and Andrew Leonard (mainly Andrew Leonard) sawed off branches and resurrected the fence, I stumbled around through the mess looking for the seedlings we put in.   Thanks to the lurid pink covers we found and straightened up all but one, which was firmly embedded under the main trunk.

At least these little ones have had an eighteen months start on replacing their ancient neighbour.  It’s a huge loss that we no longer have that tree, one that was probably here before Europeans arrived in Australia.  It’ll be decades before any of the new starters have anything like its canopy.

At least, since the timber is good, we’ll have a memento of the giant.  Sometime in the next month or so we plant to convert part the main trunk into slabs that we can use for benches and tables.   At a metre thick and very straight, it’s beautiful timber.

I would still rather have our old giant.

Valley trees 2015 2

Valley trees in 2015 after plantings

PIXIE DUST, KITES AND PINK HATS

There’s nothing better than a beautiful day out on the hillside, unless it’s a beautiful day out with lots of lovely people planting trees.

kristen-among-the-rocksjake-helpingplanting-with-a-puppy

This year we had the wonderful team from Justin Borevitz’s lab at ANU, along with another hundred yellow box  (eucalyptus melliodora) that they raised from seed, genotyped and either pampered or subjected to all sorts of tests (drought strtrees-in-truckess, various sprays etc).  In the last two years we have planted 30 to 50 of these which despite some setbacks in the way of frost, not to mention last autumn’s endless dryness, have been doing well.   The main challenge is transporting the big pots (this year big sections of pipe) up to where they’ll be planted. The rest of our plants come from Murrumbateman Landcare, Greening Australia or Damian DiMarco’s nursery on Wallaroo Road, making as wide and balanced a range of species as we can manage. Continue reading

THE GREEN ARMY INVADES

I was quite cautious when the idea of a “Green Army” was proposed.  It seemed like a political stunt.  And the cost of the payslips was going to be subtracted from Landcare, a community organization I admire a great deal.

Who was this Army going to attack?  The trees?  Us?

Who was going to join up?  Willing people? Or grumpy teenagers who’d rather be playing video games, only moving when they were driven along with pitchforks?

rocksAnd how would they feel about planting in rocks?

Continue reading