Eucalypts now!
Good Organic Gardening|Good Organic Gardening 12.4
WITH THEIR INFINITE VARIETY AND BREATHTAKING BEAUTY, THERE’S A GUM THAT’S JUST RIGHT FOR EVERY GARDEN
Angus Stewart

One of the constant companions in the Australian landscape is the gum tree, which belongs to a botanical group that takes in not only Eucalyptus but also other closely related genera such as Angophora and Corymbia.

Gums belong to the plant family Myrtaceae, or myrtle — primarily because of the scent of their leaves — but they also display an incredible range of ornamental forms.

Eucalypt species are found across Australia and have adapted to a range of different climates, from the desert to the tropics. They provide habitat and sustenance for a range of wildlife: the leaves are favoured by koalas and the nectar-laden blossoms by birds, insects and other wildlife.

Eucalypts have great ornamental value, from their beautiful bark and foliage to showy flowers and intricate seed pods. Eucalypt blossoms have a characteristic appearance, comprising many stamens instead of petals.

Some eucalypts grow to be very tall trees while many others have a “mallee” habit, meaning they sprout multiple smaller stems from an underground lignotuber. This effectively means they often behave as shrubs, which makes them better suited to garden cultivation.

They are also very tough plants because they can sprout new shoots from their underground stem (lignotuber) if they get damaged by fire or wind. They can be pruned to whatever shape you desire.

More than half of all eucalypt species are classified as mallees, including many of the best ornamentals for the home garden. Some of these species have an attractive blue-grey waxy coating on the stems, leaves and buds — for example, the silver-leaved mountain gum Eucalyptus pulverulenta.

CORYMBIAS

The genus Corymbia, which includes bloodwoods and the vibrant red flowering gum, is a group of eucalypts with outstanding flowers and a number of them are of suitable height for gardens.

For Australia’s tropical areas, the swamp bloodwood (C. ptychocarpa) is an attractive small-to-medium tree with outstanding displays when in flower. Native to northern Australia, it grows close to springs and watercourses.

It’s also used as a street tree in parts of Queensland. The blossoms can be shades of pink or red in colour and they appear from summer to autumn as well as spot flowering through the year.

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