I just had to stop and take a photo of this special tree in the Mt Annan Botanic Gardens in Sydney. Many of the trees in Australia are in the eucalyptus family, commonly known as “gum trees”. One group of them is also known as “blue gums”. The staff here in the gardens must have a good sense of humour.
The sign in the foreground explains the message they are trying to get across: “Dead trees provide beautiful homes with perfect views.”
Collectively, the gum trees of Australia provide homes for countless numbers of creatures. A single large tree – like the one in the photo – can be home to many species of insects, beetles, spiders, lizards as well as birds, bats, possums and many others. The trees provide shelter, roosting spots, nesting sites, nesting hollows, food and perching spots.
On the down side, millions of dead, mature trees like the one in the photo, have been chopped down for building materials, railway sleepers, firewood and for fence posts. Even a dead tree can provide a home for many creatures, especially if the tree has good nesting hollows. Owls and parrots especially like these hollows, and so do possums and bats. While large stands of mature trees do remain, the popularity of open fires and slow-combustion fires has accelerated the demise of many older dead trees.
Disclosure: I must confess to liking a wood fire myself, and so I am in a small way probably guilty of destroying some of these beautiful old trees. To partially lessen my guilt, only yesterday we arranged for a heating consultant to inspect our home to advise us on alternative methods of heating. Installing a reverse cycle air conditioner is the way to go, powered largely by our solar panels on the roof.