January's pallette

January's art

3 January 2014

Surprisingly mid-summer is a time of flourish in Australian forests and woodlands. Many of the gum trees are flowering, providing nectar and food for a myriad of parrots. The little Musk Lorikeets in our street dart about the place in family groups like MIG fighter jets, tearing up the treetops, stopping to refuel on gum blossom and nectar before dashing off to another set of trees. In addition to flowering, many of the gums also shed their bark, some, such as the giant Mountain Ash (Eucalyptus regnans) of Victoria and Tasmania do so in enormous great long strips, the tall Karri (Eucalyptus diversicolor) from the south west Australian forests peel off in big grey shards to reveal a smoothe creamy yellow trunk below.

IMGP3591 - Musk lorikeet
IMGP0829 - , Karri

Some of my favourites at this time of year are the spotted gum (Corymbia maculata) from eastern Australia and the yellow-scented gum (Corymbia citriodora) from Queensland. Both are widely planted ornamental trees in Australian gardens. There is a great avenue of lemon-scented gums in Kings Park, Perth, but they are common in most cities here. In December they begin to shed their bark, first little blisters appear, then they burst on one side and begin to peel up, revealing a myriad of beautiful colours underneath, reds, beetroot, carmine and oxblood, russets, limes and greens, avocado and asparagus. Some of the outside bark hangs for a while but in the end it all departs to develop a smoothe new coat of cream which slowly changes back to grey before it all starts again next summer.


Gungurra (Eucalyptus caesia) is another one worth watching out for, although it is a rare species in the wilds of Western Australia, it has been widely cultivated. It has a peculiar habit of curling its outer burgundy bark longways to reveal green and claret stripes underneath.

E Caesia-1

Opposite our house we get to enjoy the majestic river red gums (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) throughout the year, but the annual shedding of the bark is probably the most enchanting time to enjoy their company. If you’ve never tried it, commune with a tree or two, watch them grow and change over a year, and if you’re as lucky as me, you’ll be let into a world of rare beauty and renewal.

Redgum peeling

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