about zone 8, or even less, with winter protection). In Tasmania, it reaches heights of 300 feet or more, making it one of the largest trees in the world. Planted in the landscape, it will grow tall and noble—up to 75 feet, and even to 200 feet in ideal conditions. But for those home gardeners wanting to set their sights a little lower, certain nurseries sell a multi-trunked ‘Compacta’ dwarf variety that grows to 30 feet or more.
Juvenile leaves of the blue gum start oval or oblong in shape, with a delightful silvery-green color. They mature quickly, becoming narrow and glossy. The flowers, flossy white, appear only on mature trees. The blue-gray young bark matures to a mottled gray, green, and brown, with a tinge of blue. Quite thick and shaggy, it furrows near the base of the tree. The bark peels naturally in long strips or ribbons, making noises similar to paper or linen being torn. Several other members of the eucalyptus family share this peeling bark habit, and for this reason they’ve earned the nickname "stringybarks."
The blue gum prefers full-sun exposure and a soil on the moist side, though it can tolerate a fair degree of drought. When young, the tree needs a sheltered location, particularly out of harsh winter winds. A winter mulch around the root system to a depth of six to eight inches—after the tree has experienced a couple of nights of below-freezing temperatures (which will slow or stop the sap flow)—will be of great benefit to the tree’s survival in colder climes. You should also consider the blue gum for annual bedding schemes. The blue-green foliage makes an attractive contrast to bright pink or red flowers.
Just for the Smell of It.
As an added bonus, you won’t be able to resist picking a leaf of your blue gum now and then and rubbing it between your fingers to rel-