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I discovered some Mistletoe growing in a Gum tree in Marrickville. Not knowing much about this plant I did some research & found out that Australia has more than 90 species of Mistletoe. I also came across some interesting information from ‘The World Today’ on ABC Radio.
Mistletoe in Australia is always a native plant. It has a bad reputation for killing trees, but Associate Professor David Watson from Charles Sturt University says, “pretty much all of the public’s perceptions about Mistletoe are fundamentally incorrect.” Mistletoe does not kill trees, nor is it poisonous to people or livestock saying that these are myths.
In fact, his recent research has found Mistletoe encourages biodiversity. For 5-years he & another researcher removed all Mistletoe from some farms near Holbrook, near Albury in NSW. The results were unexpected.
“Within three years of taking mistletoe away doing nothing else just removing mistletoe plants from the canopy, we lost more than a third of the woodland dependant bird species. So to do one small habitat manipulation & see such a dramatic & almost immediate effect is very strong evidence & shows that not just an indirect effect, mistletoe really does have a direct positive effect on biodiversity.”
He also said that Local Councils usually have a policy of removing Mistletoe, but that this is the wrong thing to do because Mistletoe has such a positive effect on biodiversity.
“….rather than seeing Mistletoe as a problem in & of itself, it’s far better to consider it as an indicator of broader scale ecosystem health. ….and it will come back.” See – http://bit.ly/10NUkGf
Little birds like to nest in Mistletoe. It also produces incredibly nutrient-rich leaf litter, which would be great to use in the garden.
That it would be great for small birds was the first thing I thought of when I saw the Mistletoe. All this is something to think about if you have Mistletoe growing in your tree. It’s likely that others will tell you that you have to remove it because the myths about this plant have been around for a long time, but its presence shows that there is great biodiversity happening in your spot & that the little birds have somewhere to nest. As evidence, there will likely be lots more birds around. These are plenty of reasons to keep it.
Clr Gardiner has asked the following interesting questions in a Notice of Motion for tomorrow night’s Marrickville Council Meeting. Note: I have not included all the questions. Bold is Council’s answer. –
“Please outline what steps have been taken to determine what the disposal costs are likely to be should the removal of 300-500mm of soil & existing drainage & irrigation systems be necessary in the proposed installation of artificial turf at Arlington Reserve.
Soil testing is being undertaken to determine the likely waste classification of any excavated material which will influence disposal costs. The results will be included in the tender documentation of the ‘design & construction’ contract to enable pricing at the time of tender.
Please advise what steps have been taken to determine if water drainage from Arlington Reserve will be connected to the Sydney Water stormwater system & the likely costs of such connection.
Drainage requirements including the need to provide a new connection to the Sydney Water system have not as yet been determined. This will be determined during the detailed design phase.
Please advise what inquiries have been made regarding the ongoing maintenance & repair costs of an artificial turf surface at Arlington Oval. What specialist machinery will be required & what is the likely cost of such machinery?
In preparing the Arlington report presented to Council on 19 February advice was sought from operators of similar synthetic fields installed in Sydney & a supplier as to the indicative maintenance requirements. These inquiries indicated that an annual maintenance cost of approximately $25,000 per year can be expected. The estimated capital cost of a specialist grooming machine required as part of the ongoing maintenance is approximately $50,000. Alternatively specialised maintenance could be outsourced.
Please advise why Council would assume costs of accreditation to FIFA 1 Star of an artificial turf surface at Arlington.
FIFA standards provide two levels of playing surface certification. FIFA 1 Star is intended for community & municipal use generally at club level whilst FIFA 2 Star accreditation is intended for professional level. Specifying FIFA 1 Star, at least at the initial construction phase, is considered essential to ensure an acceptable quality of workmanship, surface quality & durability is delivered by the contractor suitable for intended use.
Please advise if a formal heritage assessment of the Arlington Reserve has been undertaken, if not when will such an assessment be conducted?
A formal heritage assessment is not proposed for this project as Arlington Reserve is not a listed heritage item under the Marrickville LEP. It is intended that heritage impacts would however be assessed as part of the Review of Environmental Factors.
Please advise the current status of the Assessment of Significance of the Arlington Reserve under Section 5a of EP&A Act & s94 of the TSC Act.
A Threatened Species assessment is currently being undertaken. The findings will be incorporated into the overall Review of Environmental Factors for the project which is yet to commence.”
I find Council’s answers very interesting. I am shocked to learn that Arlington Reserve is not listed as a heritage item & receiving protection under the LEP. I would have thought that with its special history & lovely infrastructure, it would have made the grade.
The Dictionary of Sydney says the following about Arlington Reserve – “Arlington Oval, once several deep disused brick pits, was filled in & converted to recreational use in 1932. During the 1938 British Empire Games, women athletes competed at Arlington Oval.” See – http://www.dictionaryofsydney.org/entry/dulwich_hill
I am also surprised that a Threatened Species Assessment has not been completed before saying yes to covering the playing field with synthetic turf. This area is known to have Long-nosed Bandicoots, which are on the endangered species list. Currently the rail line in The Greenway is being worked on & soon work will commence on the Light Rail Station directly opposite Arlington Reserve. You just need to look over the bridge to see that habitat has been destroyed (it is unavoidable), so wildlife will be elsewhere until this area is revegetated & quiet again. Bandicoots like to forage in open fields so I would expect Arlington Oval to be a regular place to dine for them.
Apparently Marrickville Council have said that they will only work on one area at a time in Bandicoot areas. Well this is technically correct, as NSW Transport is the other agency, but two areas of habitat so close to each other must put a strain on the Bandicoots.
These are great questions from Clr Gardiner allowing the community to have more information than what was previously available.
There is considerable disquiet in the Dulwich Hill community regarding the installation of synthetic turf at Arlington Recreation Reserve. Marrickville Councillors debated the issue on 20th November 2012. See – http://bit.ly/TnDEX5 The issue returned to the Council Meeting on 6th December 2012 with a unanimous vote for a report presenting all the facts to be prepared & return to Council in February 2013.
to go ahead with installing synthetic turf. There was large representation at these Council Meetings – from the clubs who wanted synthetic turf & from the community who didn’t. See – http://bit.ly/TICPY1 On 19th February 2013, the issue was again debated in the Council Meeting. The vote was 6 for – 6 against, with Mayor Macri, who raised the motion, using his casting vote to carry the motion.
The ‘Save Arlington Reserve Group,’ formed by residents in 2009 is continuing their campaign to stop synthetic turf from being installed, this time at the budgetary decision level.
Marrickville Council plans to spend $1,055 million on Arlington Recreation Reserve, which alarmingly totals 31% of the total yearly budget for parks for the entire Marrickville municipality. That is – almost one third of spending money will be used on Arlington Recreational Reserve. $1,435,172 has already been spent on Arlington Recreation Reserve from 2009 – 2013.
Save Arlington Reserve Group has other concerns about the use of synthetic turf at this location. You can read more here – http://on.fb.me/18N0NbP. If you can help with the campaign contact – firstname.lastname@example.org. This post on the Save Arlington Reserve website goes into detail regarding their concerns & objections about the cost of installing synthetic turf – http://bit.ly/14rBp8b. This page also has a link to where you can send a submission to Marrickville Council. The deadline for submissions is Monday 27th May 2013.
There are strong concerns for the Brush Box, Gum trees & the row of Jacaranda trees growing close to the paying field. All add significantly to the beauty of this Reserve. It is known that leaves that fall on synthetic turf cause the surface to rot & the playing field will need to be vacuumed regularly to prevent this from happening. All these trees drop copious amounts of leaves & the Jacarandas are deciduous. They also drop thousands of purple flowers. It is felt that the cost of removing leaves & flowers will be seen as prohibitive & will result in tree removal later on.
I would imagine that a barrier would need to be constructed to stop the mulch around the Jacarandas & some of the Gums from coming onto the playing field. That or concrete the mulched area.
Williams Parade, which runs alongside the Reserve, is lined with tall London Plane trees & it looks fabulous. However, these trees are also deciduous & the wind brings many of these leaves into Arlington Recreation Reserve. It makes sense that some of these will blow onto the synthetic playing field adding to the natural material that will need to be removed.
Council has also said that if tree roots encroach on the synthetic turf playing field, the trees will need to be removed.
Synthetic turf is made from petroleum products & frequently contains heavy metals such as lead, aluminum, zinc, chromium, copper & sulphur. Heavy metals will never break down & they will enter the soil & the local environment.
Biodiversity does not just concern that which lives or grows above the ground. Playing fields are great places for birds to source food, both above & below the ground. Last week I watched numerous native birds hunting for food on the playing field, including four Kookaburras & I don’t see these birds often. If the playing field is covered with synthetic turf, it is highly likely that the territorial birds will not survive.
Marrickville Council has acknowledged that the Urban Habitat Mosaic needs to be increased. It does not make sense to cover one of our few areas of biodiversity with plastic grass.
Detergents & chemicals will be used on a regular basis to clean the synthetic turf. All this liquid will have to go somewhere. If it goes into the ground around the playing field it will likely affect the trees & also make its way down to the Cooks River. It was Marrickville Council who taught me that suburbs that appear a long way from the Cooks River actually do bring stormwater & whatever comes with it to the river. The artificial turf will also need to be sprayed with weed killer.
Despite some Marrickville Councillors giving assurances that the Reserve will be kept open for the community to use, it is usually locked, except when there is a game on. Therefore the community will be paying almost one third of the budget for parks for a green space that they cannot access unless there is a game on. The community wants to be able to use this green space when it is quiet as well. It is closed off from the road, something that is rare in Marrickville LGA. Should the community be losing green space when Marrickville LGA already has the least green space in Australia?
Something that concerned me is the use of geo-textile material on the large area of garden beds. I presume the geo-textile has been used to prevent soil erosion & prevent weed growth. I imagine it will do this successfully.
My concerns are that the geo-textile acts as a barrier for birds, insects, lizards, Bandicoots & other ground-feeding creatures to access food from the garden area. The geo-textile also has a string webbing through it & I am concerned that as it breaks down the string will get caught around the toes & feet of birds causing potentially serious injuries & for many, a slow death. Perhaps this won’t happen because the wildlife will quickly learn that accessing food sources from the soil is impossible here. Either way, another green area has been lost as a foraging area for wildlife.
Council has planted new trees to replace the ones they removed. These were drooping last week. They have also planted Ivy & Hibbertia scandens, a native vine with yellow flowers that is used in the municipality as ground cover. My friend who came with me asked why Council did not try to hide the ugly perimeter wall by planting Grevillias & other attractive shrubs that would provide cover & be a food source for birds. I could only agree.
I came across a small garden along the back of a couple of properties in Dulwich Hill & was lucky enough to speak to the people who created this. They said that the space along the fence line used to be ugly & was full of asthma weed, so they decided to pull out the weeds & plant the space.
Apparently all the plants were sourced from their garden or were donations from friends & neighbours. I like this idea of sharing plants & cuttings.
Apart from some mulch, no money was spent creating this. As small as the space is, I think it looks terrific. Others must like it as well as preparation gardening is visible further along the lane.
Believe it or not, research has shown that this kind of greening of spaces also lowers crime in the community.
A February 2013 article about research from Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA asked – Does vegetation encourage or suppress urban crime? –
- “found that well-maintained vegetation lowered the rates of certain types of crime, such as aggravated assault, robbery & burglary, in urban neighborhoods.”
- “If you see well-maintained window boxes, gardens, lawns & community spaces it gives the impression of a stable, healthy community — people are watching out for that neighborhood.”
- “….rather than decreasing vegetation as a crime deterrent, their study provides evidence that cities should be exploring increasing maintained green spaces.” See - http://bit.ly/Z6o3vz
It’s the small things that can make a neighbourhood somewhere nice to live & greenery is a major factor. Now we know that removing weeds & adding a few plants to traditionally neglected areas has a measurable impact on community safety. Other recent research has shown that green spaces also increases happiness in the community.
We could be embracing these spaces that connect to where we live instead of living surrounded by weeds & litter & we have much to benefit from as a community by doing so. I am always happy when I see a garden of any size in public space & I doubt that I am alone in this.
Now it has been transformed into this!
A couple of days ago I cycled over to Arthur Street Marrickville to see whether the large traffic island on the corner of Ann Street was indeed being transformed into a garden. What I saw was very pleasing.
Marrickville Council has done some great work here & I am sure that the local residents are happy about this. From being a very large traffic island covered with bitumen with a stunning Gum tree somehow managing to survive, it has been transformed into a garden that will soon support wildlife.
Twelve Lilly Pillies have been planted around two sides. I assume these will create a small hedge. Ground covering Grevillias have been planted in the remaining space. On the other side of the tree that has been released from bondage, are five Bird’s Nest ferns. I have never seen Council plant Bird’s Nest ferns on traffic islands before. They look good now & will be stunning when grown. Fingers crossed that they are not pilfered in the night.
Council have also painted the surrounds & added a chain link fence to protect pedestrians from falling into the gutter.
This corner of Arthur & Ann Streets has a number of lovely qualities. The house next to the traffic island has a water feature in the front garden & the sound of falling water is audible from the street. Across the road are large trees where Ravens, Currawongs & Magpies can always be found. There is also minimal traffic.
As I stood there looking at the new plants & the other work done by Council I became aware of the dappled shade from the Gum tree, the sound of birdcall & of falling water & thought – this is how streets can offer spaces of green & respite.
It may be that you only stop here for a couple of minutes to take a breather on your way home from work or the shops, but you will certainly benefit if you do so.
As we have so few parks in Marrickville LGA, our streets are defacto green spaces. Many people walk for recreation & the greener our streets become with verge gardens & better street trees, the more the community will benefit.
I often take a slow walk along David Street Marrickville because doing so makes me feel good. The houses are nice, many of the front gardens are green & interesting, the street trees are spectacular & the cool dappled shade wonderful to be in. Plus, I don’t have to battle litter, barbeque smoke & blaring car radios like I do in some of our parks.
I can get the emotional benefit of being in a park if I walk or cycle down the right streets & I know I am not alone from the people I have spoken with who also choose to walk these streets for the same reasons as I do.
What Marrickville Council has done here in Arthur Street is create a space that can nurture people’s need for peaceful green space. It also increases biodiversity so is good for urban wildlife. If every area of concrete or bitumen could be greened our municipality would become cooler & nicer.
Research scientists say the payoff is a happier & healthier community so I think more work like this is a priority. Thank you Marrickville Council. This is great work.
Last week at the public meeting concerning the Victoria Road Bushpocket site a resident said that – if he were paranoid, he would think Council do not want Bushpockets.
In this area of Victoria & Meeks Road there are four Bushpockets –
- one along the rail line in Meeks Road (destroyed by accident & replaced last year),
- one with a bioswale at the bottom of Victoria Road (the swale was destroyed for a cycleway last month),
- a triangular section next to the houses on Victoria Road &
- one of around 30-metres that faces Victoria Road to the corner of Meeks Road. This was savagely pruned sometime last year. I did not write about it because Marrickville Council sent an apologetic email to the Bushpocket volunteers. Today I see that this site has again been pruned & what is left behind is again, frankly, an unattractive mess.
Out of the four Bushpockets, three of them have been either totally or partially destroyed by Marrickville Council. Feeling paranoid about the motives that lead to such results is almost inevitable.
Sometimes heavy pruning of natives can be a good thing as it can encourage thicker growth, but not with these plants. Their foliage is on the outside of the shrub. If you do anything other than tip-pruning, you expose the inside of the shrub & they remain in this form & condition until you do something that changes their shape again.
Where there were once native shrubs that cascaded over an unseen wooden boundary fence to the side of the road, the site was left last year with a view of bare inner branches & the wooden barrier fence, plus the mounting litter & weeds. Now it has been pruned again, this time 30-cms or so behind the fence as if the shrubs were somehow dangerous. This ugly outcome is extremely disappointing.
Marrickville Council’s Draft Recreation & Policy Strategy is available on their website. This comprehensive 35-page document is open for community consultation until tomorrow 14th April. I’ve highlighted a number of points that interested me.
- Provide seating & shade along walking routes, in parks & open spaces.
- Investigate lighting upgrades along the Cooks River for evening safety.
- Develop new off-leash areas in Enmore Park, Henson Park, Johnson Park, Mahoney Reserve, McNeilly Park, Marrickville Park, Petersham Park & Simpson Park.
- Signage to protect areas of local biodiversity.
- Undertake a feasibility study to cover 2 playing fields at Tempe Reserve with Synthetic turf.
- Upgrade fields at Marrickville Park, Steel Park, Camdenville Park, Tempe Reserve & Mahoney Reserve similar to what was done at Mackey Park.
- Investigate options for using pocket parks as biodiversity enhancement areas, urban forests or community gardens.
- Investigate using permeable pavements.
- Investigate using green roofs on park buildings.
- Engage the community in major & local park upgrades with view to creating ongoing stewardship.
- Promote adoption of trees or sponsorship of greening streets by community groups, schools, businesses & industry.
- Implement a place-making pilot program in pocket parks.
- Prepare a Green Streets Strategy to enhance connection to community hubs, public transport, parks & open space.
- Develop Village Centre Park/Plaza space in 4 urban villages with public art, outdoor seating, landscaping & special paving.
- Investigate under-used pocket parks to create additional recreational services.
- Work with existing volunteer landcare, tree planting & community gardening programs & provide ongoing support.
- Investigate Wi-Fi in selected parks & open space.
- Provide outdoor exercise stations in 2-3 large parks.
- Review the need for the 2 crochet clubs.
- Review leased spaces such as tennis & bowling.
- Undertake feasibility planning to develop one or two new indoor sports courts with options to extend Debbie & Abbey Borgia Centre or Robyn Webster Centre.
- Explore opportunities for using vacant buildings & shop fronts for start-up social enterprises.
I’ve rushed writing this because of tomorrow’s deadline. Personally, I hate that synthetic turf is being considered for Tempe Reserve. I believe it is a serious environmental hazard, totally inappropriate in this location with the Alexandra Canal & Cooks River on either side, & deprives valuable wildlife of feeding habitat, which is already scarce.
I was also disappointed to see that fishing was not mentioned in the document. This sport is booming along the Cooks River & with it comes some serious hazards to wildlife & the environment.
However, there are many things in the draft document that I think are wonderful – shaded seating, evening lighting along the river & every point that I have listed under ‘Environment.’
If you have time, send in a quick submission. You only need focus on what you want or don’t want as this will help Marrickville Council meet the community’s needs.
The document can be downloaded here – http://www.marrickville.nsw.gov.au/getinvolved/consultations/recreationpolicyandstrategy.html?s=706673351
You can comment on the link above or send an email to Council at – email@example.com
In February 2012 I wrote about Marrickville Council’s plans for Old Canterbury Road Lewisham, between Parramatta Road & the railway overpass. See – http://bit.ly/woTF6K
Council have replaced the footpath, removed 1 ailing street tree & planted 23 new street trees with root barriers. The trees were 10 x Spotted gum (Corymbia maculata), 11 x New South Wales Christmas Bush (Ceratopetalum gummiferum) & 2 x Blueberry ash (Elaeocarpus reticulates). Council also created 36 new verge gardens between 1 metre & 1.3 metres wide & 4 metres long.
Thank you Marrickville Council. I thought the new streetscape was a vast improvement on the old & will watch with interest as the trees grow & the verge gardens fill out.
The street trees & verge gardens will help remove pollution & particulate matter – important as this is a high traffic road. They will also cool the street, add oxygen to the air, provide food for urban wildlife & have a positive impact on property values, among other benefits.
If this kind of streetscape beautification work happened across Marrickville LGA – as funds were available, we would have a much nicer place to live with greater diversity for urban wildlife. I’d wager the community would be happier too.
While in Petersham the other day I came across a man walking with
what I think was a male Eclectus an Indian Ringneck parrot sitting on his shoulder. It was quite a sight with such a beautiful bird. The bird’s name is Lovely. He was very lovely so his name is apt.
On talking to the bird’s owner I learnt that most afternoons or evenings he takes Lovely out to experience nature. He finds a good tree with fruit or flowers & allows Lovely to forage & feed. He also collects fruit & some flowers to take home to supplement the pet store prepared diet. It was great to see someone committed to giving a good life to his parrot.
When I showed the photos to my husband later that night, he said he had seen this man & his parrot spending time at our verge garden & we live a couple of kilometers away.
Meeting this bird showed me that pet birds also need good food-producing trees as well as the urban wildlife. This man needs to travel around Marrickville municipality sourcing fresh natural food for Lovely because it is not as abundant as it could be. So if you are planting, maybe plant something that provides food for the wild birds & for Lovely. I’m sure he will appreciate it.
On 21st March 2013 I drove down Victoria Road Marrickville & saw earth-moving equipment with Marrickville Council workers digging up the swale on the bushpocket site. I returned at the end of the day specifically to have a close look. The swale had been totally removed & what was left in its place was a large hole, a flattened area that looked suspiciously like a footpath & paint markings on the dirt also looking like the outline of a footpath.
As Marrickville Council have recently built what I call ‘a footpath to nowhere’ under the railway bridge & around the curve of Victoria Road to Myrtle Street, I assumed the swale was destroyed for an extension of this footpath.
The ‘footpath to nowhere’ ends in Myrtle Street where street trees start. To continue the footpath three good-sized street trees planted around 8 to 10-years-ago will probably need to be removed. That is unless Council make the footpath thinner in this area, but I doubt they will because the rest of it is wide & they tend to like wide paths.
There is a footpath on the opposite side of both Victoria Road & Myrtle Street so pedestrians are okay. There has never been a footpath on the other side of this section of Victoria Road that I am aware of. The area is located beside the goods line & coupled with the hill, made an excellent site for a swale & a bushpocket. There are also 3-4 large mature trees here that screen the railway line.
The swale is a major part of the Victoria Road Bushpocket site. It was built by Marrickville Council in 2009 as part of a community environmental initiative led by local resident Micheal Easton & supported by other local residents. The residents met regularly to plant, weed & clean the bushpocket site. Together they transformed it from a relatively empty, verging on an unsightly litter-attracting patch of land to something that was green, functional & quite lovely.
Council even installed a park bench placed under the shade of a tree. The pathways were loose gravel & it was nice to walk here & have a look to see what was in flower at the time. In March 2011, the project was handed back to Marrickville Council who said they would continue to manage the bushpocket.
Apparently the swale has been destroyed to accommodate a bicycle path. As a cyclist, I think a bike paths are very important & much needed. I question however, with this section of Victoria Road being so wide & already a Council designated on-road cycle route, why Council would need to destroy a swale that was part of local stormwater management & important for biodiversity. The swale was built in this location to capture & clean stormwater before it entered the Cooks River, less than a kilometer away.
Something else to consider is that the bushpocket was thriving & great for biodiversity & habitat creation. Now we will have yet more concrete.
If it costs Council $1,000 to plant a sapling, imagine how much the Bushpocket & swale cost to create & manage & how much it cost to remove it.