Sunday, May 26, 2013

Coppiced Eucalypts

A coppiced Eucalyptus haemostoma 
 with lavender and Aloe
In the Bruce Beresford film Don's Party which is set in the fictitious suburb of Westleigh on election night 1969, the character Don Henderson, played wonderfully by the late John Hargreaves, is proud to show off his mini plantation of eucalyptus trees which he was carefully nurturing. Perhaps the film's screenwriter David Williamson was commenting on the fashion of that time for planting trees such as a Sydney Blue gum (Eucalyptus saligna) in the tiny garden of a terrace house in Paddington or Balmain. Many of these trees are still with us in the suburbs and have of course now reached maturity.  Earlier in the week there was a sad evening news story about a huge gum tree which had come crashing down onto the house of some elderly folk with the result being they were left virtually homeless. 
If you still like the inclusion of Eucalyptus species in a home garden, when grown for the foliage alone, the solution is to coppice them when they reach the sapling stage by cutting them off to a short trunk or close to ground level.
I did this earlier this year with a 'scribbly' gum and it has since sent up a flush of young branches. It works better if you have already planted some compatible plants, either native or exotic, close by so that the new foliage fills in the gap in a natural way. I like the transparent quality of the gum leaves and the shadows they cast on each other and the plants around them.
For more on the technical side of coppicing you may be interested in the following article:
 Managing Coppice in Eucalypt Plantations - Department of Environment and Primary Industries

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