My back yard

I guess if the wind is going to blow the big tree in my back yard down, I should be grateful that it fell in the direction that minimized the damage — only the fence and our clothesline were crushed.



  1. #1 P. Lewis
    August 4, 2010

    I had something similar happen about 7 or 8 years ago. A 40′ to 50′ Scots pine fell across the fence along my drive. It brought the telephone wires down, but a nice thick bough prevented any damage to the fence (by literally a couple of inches)… and the car standing directly in its path to ground!

    And there are still a few more Scots pines to come down. Luckily, the prevailing winds should mean they’ll probably fall away from the house (not that that was the case with the one that did come down in a NW-erly gale!).

  2. #2 Bruce Sharp
    August 4, 2010

    First, I’m glad that there were no injuries or serious damage. And second, I’m glad that someone else’s lawn looks nearly as bad as mine.

  3. #3 Marion Delgado
    August 4, 2010

    I blame Ian Plimer. He probably altered the course of a MYA time-flitch or something.

  4. #4 Marion Delgado
    August 4, 2010

    What kind of tree is it?

  5. #5 Tim Lambert
    August 4, 2010

    I don’t know what kind of tree it was. It was there when we bought the house. More pictures [here]( if anyone wants to identify it.

  6. #6 Gray Gaffer
    August 4, 2010

    Yes, you were very lucky. Whatever luck is. So were we a couple of years ago when a Cedar blew down beside our house. The trunk lay alongside the house wall with only a foot or so space. Branches ruffled roofing tiles over the bathroom on their way down. My wife was in there at the time. Had the tree not been deviated slightly by our Manzanita on the way down she would have been under it. Made the whole house jump.

    Trees are taller than you think. I was amazed to measure this one at 120′. It was representative of our trees, and I had before then estimated them at 50 – 70′.

  7. #7 Holly Stick
    August 4, 2010

    And you can always hang your clothes on the tree. 😉

  8. #8 Art
    August 4, 2010

    After better than sixty years standing up the tree felt tired and decided to have a lie down.

    You won the lottery on where it decided to take a nap. I worked with a tree crew and was amazed by what even a small tree can weigh. Especially compared to the weight bearing ability of most man-made objects like cars, houses, and sheds.

    It might not be an issue but if you decide to clear the tree-fall on your own stand well clear as you take weight off the trunk. I’ve seen a guy catapulted about thirty feet after he cut the top out of a fallen tree that still had roots under tension in the ground. He took most of weight off that was holding the trunk down and the trunk stood up. With him on top of it. He got lucky. At the first sign of motion he dropped the running chainsaw so it didn’t travel with him and his flying lesson ended in a hedgerow that broke his fall. He was unharmed except for scratches and bruises.

  9. #9 TrueSceptic
    August 4, 2010

    5 Tim,

    Glad everyone’s OK. I’m no botanist but for those who are, close-ups of the leaves might help. Sometimes the general shape is enough, but not if there are several species that look similar.

  10. #10 John McManus
    August 4, 2010

    Having a clothesline is a terrorist attack on everything western civilization loves. Your tree was certainly justified in attacking it.

    The Ludicrous Lord would be proud.

  11. #11 SteveC
    August 4, 2010

    Tim, like you say, it could have caused a lot more damage than it did. Shame to lose a big feature like that from the yard, but at least you’ve got a good stock of firewood for next winter 🙂

    BTW from the pics it looks likely the tree is (or was) Narrow-leaved Black Peppermint Eucalyptus nicholii, which was once quite commonly planted as a “small” tree (relative to many locally indigenous eucalypts, which can get to 60m+) but which has fallen out of favour recently. If it was E. nicholii, it’s a species native to the northern tablelands of NSW – see the RBG description.

  12. #12 AmandaSj
    August 4, 2010

    Glad no-one was hurt and only the washing line and fence was squashed. This parallels my experience – moved into the rental property and a month later a strong wind took down a tree, that proceeded to squash only the clothes line.

    Apparently the trees have some kind of grudge against clothes lines and have decided to start doing something about it.


  13. #13 AmandaS
    August 4, 2010

    And judging by the extra photos, Comrade Gum was a dedicated member of the clothes line killing cadre. That is one killed clothes line.

  14. #14 chek
    August 4, 2010

    It’s an awe inspiring sight to see a tree felled by the wind.

    I recall travelling from East Anglia to Sussex (in the UK)to attend my brother’s wedding in the spring of ’88. Cambridgeshire had just been on the cusp of the Great Storm of October ’87 with just the one felled tree that I knew of in the middle of a pasture within 5 miles of our village.

    But to travel through Kent and Sussex seeing woods and forests and acre after acre after acre of mature trees brought down like matchwood was unbelievable. The nearest that I’ve ever seen to it are those photos of the flattened terrain after the event at Tunguska.

    It does make one wonder what we’re messing with at our peril when a single tree is enough to inspire wonder at the force required. And I speak as someone who spent some volunteer time many years ago winching down a dozen trees to clear a picnic area in a forest park.

    In terms of minimum property damage you were very lucky Tim. But of course, the tree itself isn’t so easily replaced for a century or so.

  15. #15 Vince Whirlwind
    August 4, 2010

    I used to have a peppermint gum. Lovely tree. The first thing the people who bought my house was to chop down every tree on the block. $^&#ing savages.

    Anyway, that wind the other night was brutal – there was a tree brought down across Mugga Lane outside Murrays’ too.
    And from the sound of chainsaws last night at 10pm, somebody a couple of blocks away from me was having similar problems.

  16. #16 Geoff
    August 4, 2010

    You’ll have plenty of space for a climate-change combatting vegetable garden in your yard now that the tree is gone 🙂

  17. #17 Derecho64
    August 4, 2010

    How strong was the wind/gust that took it down?

  18. #18 SteveC
    August 4, 2010

    Derecho64, dunno how close we’re talking (and don’t expect Tim to give personal details away) but Sydney Airport (and nearby stations) recorded a max wind speed of 107km/h that night:

    Further south, Wattamolla (in Royal National Park ~40km south of the Sydney CBD) recorded continuous >100km/h winds from midnight to about 7.30am and a peak gust of 139km/h at about 1.30am.

  19. #19 David Irving (no relation)
    August 4, 2010

    My lady friend had one of her trees blown over a couple of weeks ago – it took out the back half of her neighbour’s house. (Fortunately the neighbour was asleep in the front part of the house at the time, but the poor woman’s traumatised.) Damn thing just snapped off a couple of feet below ground level.

    The koala who used to sleep in it during the summer’ll be pissed off, too.

  20. #20 Marion Delgado
    August 4, 2010

    I think I see a hobbit in one of those photos. Clearly, Tim’s fence was an affront to freedom-loving Ents everywhere.

  21. #21 Paul UK
    August 5, 2010

    There’s a difficult balance between loving trees and protecting human life. As a volunteer tree warden here in the UK I am often thinking about trying to get more trees planted or whether a tree is dangerous.

    The potential age of species varies a great deal and an old tree isn’t necessarily a danger. English Oaks in the UK can live some 300 years, whilst a Field Maple might live 50. Yet an old Oak maybe more stab than a younger Field Maple.

    We have to live with them and the dangers they may pose.
    Actually better public knowledge of trees probably helps people judge the risks, hence avoiding the irrational chopping down of trees that pose a low risk.

  22. #22 Jeremy C
    August 5, 2010

    Very clever Tim! This is very obviously not your backyard. As a SCIENTIST who MANIPULATES the SCIENCE to get our tax money in grants for your own benefit it doesn’t show the TRUE STATE of your backyard. I’m sure as a fraudulent scientist pushing the money grabbing warmist doctrine you live in a multi storey mansion near Potts Point with a backyard tended to by an army of young bikini clad female gardners sculpting the grounds of your estate who would rush en masse to any fallen tree. Each morning you ride the mono rail from your BRW rich listed, multi storey bedroom down to the edge of the harbour where you board your yacht (bigger than any Russian Oligarchs’) so you can take off in the helicopter on its top deck to your modest little office at Kensington Kindergarten.

    Very clever ruse Tim but I tumbled to it when I couldn’t see the fleet of Bentleys!

  23. #23 blf
    August 5, 2010

    You must have angered the worms and they pushed the tree up by its roots, causing it to fall over. Beware the power of multitude of creepy-crawlies!

  24. #24 Tim Lambert
    August 5, 2010

    SteveC I don’t think that it was Narrow-leaved Black Peppermint though it looks quite similar. [Here is a picture of the leaves and fruit]( The leaves are up to 2cm wide.

    Thanks for the BOM link — I looked at the 30 year records for Sydney airport and the wind was more than the peak recorded for eleven months of the year, so this was really unusually windy.

    Oh, and I measured it and was 11.5 m tall, which is taller than I thought.

  25. #25 SteveC
    August 5, 2010


    I see what you mean. The habit looked right for E. nicholii (brown fibrous bark that’s reddish below, but neither mahogany nor stringybark), blue-green leaves and a lot of dead twiggy stuff in the canopy that E. nicholii typically gets, plus the size of it. But the pic of the fruit shows a descending disc and inserted valves, whereas E. nicholii has a raised disc and exserted valves. I’ve gone through Brooker & Kleinig (Field Guide to Eucalypts – Vol 1 SE Australia) and the Eucalyptus key at PlantNet, and the closest I can get is E. acaciiformis. This is closely related to E. nicholii (i.e. it’s in the Acaciiformes series in the section Maidenaria), looks near identical and grows in the same area (New England tablelands). But even though that has valves below or at rim level the disc is raised (like E. nicholii). If it is E acaciiformis, I’ve no idea** how it got to your yard, since I’ve never heard of it ever popping up on any landscape architect or LGA planting list. Next time you’re at UNSW, pop into the reference library and grab Brooker & Kleinig’s book (there’s also a CD-ROM which the library will have which has an interactive key), and also look up Flora of NSW Vol. 2. If you’re really keen, send a sample like the one pictured off to the Herbarium at the Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens (make sure it goes to the curator for Myrtaceae) – the ID service is free to amateurs – and make sure you give them some details of where the tree is etc. In the meantime, if I come up with another plausible ID I’ll let you know.

    [**My hypothesis would be that since E. nicholii and E. acaciiformis look almost identical and grow in the same habitats, whoever collected the seed for the nursery supplying the contract for several hundred E. nicholii got E. acaciiformis instead.]

  26. #26 Lucy Jr.
    August 5, 2010

    Sad when all that growing is lost in a puff!
    Good to hear nothing special was squashed.
    But now you’ve a sunny patch what will you do?
    Put solar on your roof? Grow veges? Or just soak up Vit D?

  27. #27 Tim Lambert
    August 6, 2010

    Well at least I can recognize E. nicholii now. I spotted about a dozen of them around the neighbourhood while walking the dog this morning. Crushing the leaves gives the same peppermint smell as our ex-tree.

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