Patterns in Bark

March 3, 2014 at 6:42 pm | Posted in Australia, Gardens, Nature, Tourism, Travel, Writing | 1 Comment
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I was at Parramatta Park again recently and went for my usual wanders in between periods of writing at the picnic tables.

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One of the things I love about the park is the trees there. I love trees anywhere, actually.

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This time however, I looked at them more closely, and saw, in a relatively small area, a wide range of species with very different bark.

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I didn’t know many of the species, though I am sure anyone familiar with Australian trees would be able to identify many of these from their bark.DSCF7982 (2) (960x1280)

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One of my favourite tree barks is that of the paperbark tree (various types of melaleuca). When I was younger, I often used to see pictures made from bark. The paperbark lends itself to that very well, as its bark peels off in soft papery sheets. Last year, after the death of my father, I took possession of two my late mother had hanging on the wall.

Melaleuca, paperbark tree

Melaleuca, paperbark tree

I found a stand of trees with an unusual and rough bark that I hadn’t noticed before, and had to include a photo here, as it is quite dramatic.

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A tree with a very smooth bark rounds off the list, though there were several others I haven’t included here.

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I love these different patterns, as well as their texture, and am constantly amazed at the variety that Nature displays.


What are the trees like where you live? Is there a good variety, or do the climate and geography limit what grows there?

(c) Linda Visman

Love’s Labours

February 6, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Posted in Gardens, Health, Mental Health, Writing and Life | Leave a comment
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Pebbles in the River (of Life)

A double block on a decent slope.

A warm day after rain and a few hot days –

The grass is happy, and so are the weeds.

Time for a haircut with the motor mower

No ride-on here – an uphill battle

– and cross-cutting downhill.

An hour’s energetic work, then a rest.

Lunch, and then another hour’s work.

Dappled, dancing sunlight on the even lawns

A fine reward for a job done with a happy heart.


© Linda Visman Monday 6th February 2012

Barking up a Tree

November 10, 2011 at 5:31 pm | Posted in Destroying nature, Gardens, Nature | 1 Comment
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It seems that there are very few responsible dog owners who actually train their dogs in good habits. I can certainly do without those barking dogs that exist in abundance here. The only bark I like around my home is tree bark.


Spotted gum in our yard

 In late spring, the trunk and branches of the Spotted Gum, Corymbia citriodora (subsp. citriodora in our area) outgrow its clothing. The bark begins to split and, over a period of a few weeks, the bark falls off in patches. As each patch of bark drops away, it reveals a soft, clean, green undershirt. This undershirt darkens over time, and the bark colour varies from blue-grey to pink.

Leaves and bark

Like their leaves, many of which also fall in spring, their bark covers the lawns. This drives some people to distraction. If they don’t cut them down in frustration, then out come the leaf blowers. These infernal machines are every bit annoying to me as unrestrained dog barking. However I simply cannot understand anyone who will cut down a beautiful and healthy tree just because it drops leaves on their lawn. They should move to the city if they don’t like trees!

I welcome the leaves (I wrote of this before) and the bark. I get out my trusty rake and gather them together, getting exercise and sunshine in the process. And soon, the leaves and bark are gathered and spread over the garden, providing a surface mulch that protects it from water evaporation and weed growth.

Forest of spotted gums

Spotted gums normally grow tall and straight and their very hard and termite resistant wood is a very popular timber. It has a wide variety of uses: poles; wharf and bridge supports; railway sleepers; timber framing in buildings; fencing; and even for fine furniture. This timber is the best for axe and hammer handles, as it does not split easily.

Spotted gum floor.

 Whenever I see a block of land being cleared of spotted gums so a house can be built, or when someone has one cut down for dubious reasons, my heart aches.

You may ask, ‘After the trees are felled, do they use the timber for any of these or for other uses to which it can be put?’ Almost invariably, the answer is no. Instead they are chipped, usually for garden mulch.

Oh, why don’t people just use the leaves and bark for that, and save those beautiful trees?

© Linda Visman

10th November 2011

Light Through My Window

June 26, 2010 at 4:38 am | Posted in Writing and Life | Leave a comment
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I sit at my desk and look out of my window, at different times of the day, and marvel at the way the changing light creates different textures, shades and moods.

Right now, the light is fading on a wet winter evening. Behind rain-laden clouds, the sky is lilac, and yet trees, houses, the road, grass, and even the bright lemons, are overlaid by a soft, brown filter. Edges soften and meld, as in an old Dutch Master.

Just a few minutes later, darkness quickly overtakes the scene. Tree trunks become tall, black slashes against a darkening grey; leaves and grass have lost their various greens, and houses their solidity. Soon, I will not be able to see outside at all.

The view changes as the seasons pass. Still, sunny autumn days bring crispness and clarity to shapes and colours. Sometimes, there is a golden glow over everything, and the garden has a surreal, almost eerie atmosphere. The winter scene can be soft grey, blurred by rain, or coldly clear and stark, despite the evergreen eucalypts.

On summer mornings, when the sun rises in a dusty sky, the scene takes on an orange cast, promising a warm day. Later in the day, the light may be rich and vibrant, or, leached of colour by a heatwave. After a cleansing summer shower, light sparkles on spider-webs, on shining leaves and on crystal drops of water. There are more shades of green that you could imagine, and even dull greys and browns take on an unaccustomed brightness.

Light changes the world, or at least our perception of it. I love to watch those changes, and see how many beautiful pictures nature can provide me in one simple, window-framed view.

© Linda Visman


January 18, 2010 at 9:25 am | Posted in Writing and Life | 6 Comments
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I love trees. In particular, I love Australian trees.

I love the bold, majestic river red gums of the Murray. The eerie white ghost gums, the desert oaks and the stunted mulga of central Australia delight me. The cypress pine forests of Central West NSW and the sighing river oaks of the east coast are bewitching. I love to look out over miles and miles of blue-green eucalypt forest, or follow a winding watercourse across a wide plain, dark with trees against the yellow of cropped or grazed paddocks. I haven’t seen the towering jarrah or karri of Western Australia, or the mighty swamp gums of Tasmania, one of which has been declared the tallest hardwood in the world – but I have plenty of trees around me to look at.

Trees needn’t be enormous to possess character and distinction. The straight smooth grey trunks of the spotted gums in my yard are beautiful, as is the coarse, dark brown stringy-bark at my back door. If not for the bottlebrush and banksias and all our other trees, we wouldn’t have the number of birds we have in our garden. However, there are some individuals that really catch the eye.

Along the Awaba road, there is a distinctive eucalypt that has a spiral trunk, rough dark brown and smooth light grey bark alternating like a candy stick. There are trees along busy city and suburban roads, where branches on the roadside form a cut-away square, their growth constantly trimmed to shape by passing trucks and buses. And who can ignore the aerial roots of the thick-trunked figs of central Newcastle and Brisbane?

There is a great Moreton Bay fig on the south side of Wollongong city – there used to be two. The little settlement nearby took its name from those trees. I rode my motor scooter through Figtree on my way to Teachers College in the 1960s, and was always intrigued that a village could be named thus. The remaining tree now stands in the middle of the industrial sites, retail businesses and relentless traffic that have grown up around it. I hope it can withstand the growing urban pressure.

Illawarra Flame trees were abundant where I grew up. Their brilliant red flowers provided a splash of colour among the eucalypts along the escarpment. Then there are jacarandas. I know jacarandas aren’t Australian, but they might as well be. They have been widely adopted here, and in spring, their purple canopies grace many a garden and suburban street. Mum planted a jacaranda in our front yard when I was young. As the tree grew, its display of purple blossoms brought the promise of summer to our home. Then, when the carpet of fallen blossoms was gone, we welcomed its leafy shade. In our sixtieth year, my husband and I planted a young jacaranda in our yard. I look forward to the time when we can enjoy its show and its shade. But I must return to our natives.

Recently, we drove along the Old Putty Road. It isn’t as narrow and winding as it used to be, but you can still see and feel and hear the natural bush as you pass through. We stopped here and there to look at sandstone formations, flowers and trees. There had been a fire through a large area of bush, probably last summer. The trees were blackened, many of the saplings had died and the grasses were only just emerging from the charcoal-littered sandy soil. But the majority of the trees, having lost their foliage in the conflagration, were well on their way back to life. Green leafy twigs sprouted from trunks and branches everywhere, fed by winter rains and the spring surge of life-giving sap.

One tree stood out among all the others. It caught and held my attention. We didn’t stop, but even now, I can see that stark, blackened shape, clear among the smaller trees. A huge eucalypt, it had been shorn of foliage. Not a single secondary branch was left. They had been burned off, not just this time, but in many other fires over perhaps two hundred years. Only the trunk and thickest branches remained. If you wanted to draw the bare outline of a tree, it would be your perfect model. And yet, it was not dead, for from each black branch sprouted a veritable forest of small leafy twigs, giving it a lacy, shimmering green coat.

I will probably never see that tree again. I didn’t get a photo of it either. But in a way, I’m glad. To have it on camera would not have captured its magnificence. Instead, it would have been taken from its proper context, reduced to an isolated image, a trite phoenix-from-the-ashes cliché. And that’s not what it was – at least not entirely. In those brief moments, that blackened tree, bursting with new life, gave me a vision of nature’s spirit, a sense of life’s tenacity, and a glow of wonder and inspiration that remains with me.

(c) Linda Visman 2010

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