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For years when driving along Salisbury Road I have thought I must stop & have a look at this beautiful street. I never have.
Recently I was walking in Camperdown Memorial Rest Park & instead of putting my attention towards the church wall, steeple & canopy of trees within the church grounds as usual, I looked the other way & between the boundary trees, saw a street full of Hill’s Figs. I realized that this was the other end of the street I had always meant to have a look at.
It is Northwood Street Camperdown, lined with beautiful mature Hill’s Fig trees that have created a gorgeous canopy over the street. It’s like walking through a green tunnel & reminds me very much of Laman Street Newcastle. Northwood Street is peaceful, shady, cool & filled with birds so it sounds nice too. I would guess the age of the trees to be around 80-years-old. It looks like over the years some trees have been lost, but the overall feel remains.
Ausgrid (the new name for Energy Australia) have done something wonderful by putting up aerial bundled cabling eliminating the need to do any further pruning for power lines. This was especially nice to see as it is recognizing the history & value of these street trees.
When doing a Google search to see if there was anything written about the Fig trees of Northwood Street I happened across the February 2011 edition of ‘Branch Cuttings’ – the newsletter of the Sydney & Northern New South Wales Branch of the Australian Garden History Society. The lead article, ‘Wauchope’s & Newcastle’s figs to stay’ written by Eva Cassegrain & Stuart Read made for very interesting reading. http://www.gardenhistorysociety.org.au/branches/sydney_&_nthn_nsw/branch_cuttings_34_feb_2011.pdf
The article lists where now historic Figs were planted around Sydney as well as in Wauchope, Sawtell & Newcastle & also mentions the mature Hills Figs that were removed last year from Wahroonga Railway Station much to the community’s dismay.
The main section of the article speaks about the median avenue of Hill’s Fig trees in Hastings Street Wauchope planted in 1938. “Over the years 2007-2010 there has been an active public campaign to protect these against proposals to remove them due to complaints of damage by roots to plumbing on adjacent properties also because of invasive roots causing trip hazards, dislodging paths & walls. Wauchope received a wonderful christmas present when Hastings Valley Council decided to preserve the trees in the block from Young to Bain Streets.” To fix the problems the Council installed a root barrier & planted gardens underneath the trees. The before & after photos show a profound difference & illustrate the benefits of retaining these trees for the streetscape.
Unfortunately, at the time of writing the Laman Street Figs were thought to be safe from the axe. Not so, as the strong community opposition to Newcastle City Council’s decision to proceed with removing these trees continues.
In amongst this great article, the street trees of Northwood Street Camperdown rated a mention. “Northwood Street Camperdown is another example of an avenue of Hills figs under pressure of removal, thwarted so far only by vigorous resident opposition.” It was very nice to read that the residents have stopped the removal of these trees. Northwood Street residents have benefited from these trees by raised property values, much beauty & wildlife & lower bills for cooling. It’s worth a stroll down Northwood Street. I should have stopped here years ago.
I feel it is a shame we can’t have more of these trees planted in appropriate places around Marrickville LGA. We do have a few suitable places that remain as barren areas. A large canopy tree in these locations would improve the streetscape dramatically & add much needed green to the skyline. Planting a Hill’s Fig or two in the vast areas of lawn in some of our parks would also be beneficial as the trees would provide shade & beauty. Most people love large Fig trees & because they live so long, they become part of the community’s history.
Hills’ Figs can be managed by installing root barriers when planting them which increases the options of using them as street trees (in appropriate places). The article also says, “San Francisco still uses them as street trees but with careful management including use of root barriers. Spain & the Canary Islands use Hill’s figs proudly in town squares, plazas & streets. Beirut sports Hill’s figs in similar situations.”
The Australian Garden History Society have regular lectures, outings & publications. If this newsletter was any indication, their publications should be great & of special interest to those interested in gardening, gardens, soils, trees & so on. You can find them here – http://www.gardenhistorysociety.org.au/ & the Sydney & Northern New South Wales Branch page - http://www.gardenhistorysociety.org.au/branches/sydney_&_nthn_nsw/
I made a short video of the Figs of Northwood Street Camperdown -http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j99XA6E6SLc
Festival of the Trees: When I think about festive trees I think of Christmas trees. As it isn’t Christmas, the next tree I would call ‘festive’ is the Fig tree because it is so large, brimming with life & has the amazing ability to make me feel good. Fig trees it is.
I love Fig trees, any type & the bigger the better. I love that they grow very tall & if left unpruned, can look like a mammoth upturned bowl of leaves. The Hill’s Fig is my favourite. I love the colour of its leaves & the way its branches get a whitish look & grow skyward.
Fig trees have featured in the greater part of my life. They are all over Balmain were I spent a good chunk of my adult life & were in the grounds of most places I worked. I’ve spent hundreds of hours sitting under Figs working, reading & chatting with friends. I’ve had picnics & held parties under them. I’ve even had a ‘first kiss’ underneath one. Unfortunately I have never lived with a Fig tree on the property, though I have had friends who did.
I don’t live close to a Fig tree these days, but in the past I did. I used to love listening to the bats eating the figs in summer. In particularly hot summers, the fruit would ferment & the bats would become drunk & fight amongst themselves, which made it difficult to get to sleep at times. After a couple of summers, the bats’ behaviour became white noise & I would have to specifically tune in to hear them.
I also like to watch bats as they fly around. Just last month I spent half an hour watching the bats circle the Fig trees at a local park. Quietly, the bats flew around & around. After a while, I realised it was play.
Sometime I will get myself organised to go to the east entrance of Wolli Creek to watch the thousands of bats fly out for the night. I am told it is quite a spectacle. As previously mentioned, the bats in the city are also beautiful to watch & I think this is a terrific bonus to tourism for Sydney.
I love the thick branches of Fig trees. I particularly like the way part of their root system is above ground. I like the roots that descend from their branches ready to support the branch as it gets bigger & heavier. I like the knots that develop after a branch is cut off &, of course, I love their trunks.
I like how dark & cool it can be when there are many mature Figs planted close to each other. Other than being in the water, there is nowhere cooler on a hot summer day. I even like that it takes a while for the rain to get to you if you are taking refuge from the weather by standing under a Fig.
Sydney City Council puts Fig trees to great advantage by using their spectacular size & canopy to highlight many areas in the city & surrounding suburbs. The fairy lights wound around the branches of the avenues of Figs in Hyde Park & make it a very romantic place after dark. I think they add more fairy lights during the Festival of Sydney & this immediately creates a magical party feel.
Leichhardt Council has many old Fig trees throughout the LGA. They have recently planted Fig trees every 4 metres along Lilyfield Road (which is at least a couple of kilometres long). Apart from being a beautiful feature to the street-scape, they also hide the railway line. Give the trees a few years to grow & this thoroughfare will look tremendous, with a huge canopy spilling over the road. I predict property prices here will rise even more.
Marrickville Council has its own Figs including the oldest Fig in Sydney, though I’m not absolutely sure of this. The St Stephen’s Fig was planted in 1848. See – http://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2010/02/24/st-stephens-fig/ It is most certainly the oldest in the LGA.
Another very old Fig tree is on a private property in South Street Tempe. This is also a very special tree. Then there is the ancient Morton Bay Fig in the IKEA development that the community is concerned about. Council also planted a ring of Figs in Tempe Reserve that I hope I live for long enough to see mature.
I would think most Councils in Sydney have a significant quota of Fig trees as these were popular in the early 1900’s. Now many are getting old (read senescent in ‘Arborist Speak’) & I fear they will be replaced with something like Tuckaroos. If this happens, it will be such a loss.
If I were a Town Planner, I would insist that a Fig tree was planted at as many street corners as possible. Imagine the dramatic entrance to ordinary suburban streets if this is done. They do this in the Sunshine Coast to great effect. Shopping strips are kept cool by these trees & people linger just to sit in their shade. Because shoppers linger they spend more. Research has shown 11% more.
I would also make Fig trees mandatory in public parks & in the grounds of hospitals, because a green outlook helps people feel emotionally good as well as increase the body’s healing ability. I would have Fig trees in school grounds to protect the children from the sun & stimulate their imagination, because Figs are magical trees & easily the stuff of fairy tales & tropical islands. Children, particularly girls, learn better when they can see trees during study. Boys tend to be calmer in leafy surrounds. The Fig tree is a giant in this regard.
To my mind the most amazing Fig in Australia is the ‘Curtain Fig’ in North Queensland. http://rainforest-australia.com/additional_Curtfig_photos.htm to see photos. To quote from the site:
- It is one of the largest trees in north Queensland.
- To count the tangled roots of the Curtain Fig would take a week.
- Its curtain of aerial roots drops 15 metres (49 feet) to the ground.
How can I get Marrickville Council to plant one of these?
Does anyone know what has happened to the 2 or 3 Hills Figs on the new IKEA site Princes Highway Tempe? Last time I drove past, the Hills Figs were gone & the Morton Bay Fig was standing alone with all the ground surrounding the edge of its canopy excavated. Marrickville Heritage Society told me IKEA said they would be relocating this tree, but they don’t know what has happened with the other trees.
These trees are not ordinary. As far as I know they are in the small group of the oldest remaining trees in Marrickville LGA. I hope the others are okay.
I will write to Marrickville Council to see if they are aware of what is/has happened to these trees & what the plans for them are.
Trees are featuring in the news a lot at the moment, which is good to see. The following is what I found most interesting.
1. In Camden LGA vandals have been ripping out & chopping down street trees after dark. http://cumberland-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/outrage-growing-over-tree-vandalism-in-camden/
2. Similar vandalism in Northbridge with community fruit trees that were part of Willoughby Council’s Sustainability Street program were stolen last month. http://cumberland-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/residents-sour-at-theft/
3. In Western Australia the government is planning to log a Dardanup forest containing 500 year old Jarrah trees, which they can’t guarantee will be spared. The Preston Environment Group are fighting to save this forest. These trees will make the princely sum of between $160,000 & $240,000. Is nothing sacred anymore? http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/-/breaking/6894699/plan-to-log-500-year-old-trees/
4. Residents in Dee Why are lobbying Warringah Council who are set to vote on a DA that will remove a healthy 45 year old Angophora just to fit 3 more units into a development. A resident asked, “Why is it that developers have so much power over Warringah Council, yet local residents who have lived in the area for over 15 years & wildlife that use the tree as a habitat have been left helpless?” Sounds familiar? http://cumberland-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/old-tree-to-make-room-for-development-in-dy/
5. The traditional owners of the Murray-Riverina Red Gum forest called for the forest to be managed by the traditional owners. http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/03/01/2833148.htm
Later, federal minister Peter Garrett supported Premier Kristina Kenneally by agreeing to allow some logging to occur for the next 5 years despite prolonged activism to save these very special & unique forests. It’s a hard decision to understand or support. http://au.news.yahoo.com/a/-/local/6881475/red-gum-park-decision-miserable/
6. Residents are fighting Sunshine Coast Regional Council who have removed 2 Hills Figs & want to remove another 20 trees in Caloundra, South East QLD. A residents said, “Without the trees, Bulcock St is going to be another hot, characterless urban strip….” They will certainly bake.
Interesting, as my experience of this area of QLD is that there were large trees everywhere, including along shopping strips. There were also massive garden beds & a green outlook that the locals were very proud of. The area looked totally unlike Sydney. Perhaps the fact that much of the planting & maintenance was done by people serving Community Service Orders helped get such a green outlook. Maybe, but there is also a culture which is pro-nature in QLD. The comments are overwhelming in support of retaining the trees. http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/residents-angry-over-plans-to-remove-bulcock-st-trees/story-e6freoof-1225821748442 and today - http://www.sunshinecoastdaily.com.au/story/2010/03/06/800-join-fight-to-save-trees/
7. A November 2009 article from The Canberra Times because the trees in the ACT are mostly mature & the Council want to remove & replace them all. Pertinent to Marrickville Council’s recent proposal to remove 59% of the public trees across the LGA. A great many of the street & park trees in Canberra are Eucalypt’s & the city & suburbs are full of native birds because of this. This article questions chopping a tree down if a branch falls & the issue of litigation. Again, the comments are very interesting. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/news/local/news/general/greens-call-for-trees-probe/1673875.aspx
8. In overseas news, the United Nation’s Billion Tree Campaign has reached 10 billion trees. The BTC was launched in 2006. 170 countries participate & the latest to join were China late 2009 & India last February. India has planted 6.1 billion trees since 2006 & 2.6 billion of these trees have been added to the UN’s program.
The UN says worldwide, 14 billion trees need to be planted annually to combat global warming. This initiative is seriously tackling the serious problem of global deforestation. Australia is a participant with the Boy Scouts planting trees. I was unable to find out any other information about Australia’s input other than this reference. http://www.prokerala.com/news/articles/a117813.html
9. Not only is India making the news for their massive & commendable tree planting achievements (they don’t argue about the reality of climate change because they are living it), they have also an amazing High Court. Why? Because Delhi’s High Court ordered all concrete around street trees to be finished being removed within 3 months starting last week. 9,395 trees will have the concrete removed from around their trunk. I wish the Delhi High Court had jurisdiction here. http://www.indianexpress.com/news/Remove-concrete-near-trees-in-3-months–HC/586569/
10. New York City’s Million Trees program has planted over 300,000 trees since it began in 2007 focusing on all the empty street tree sites as well as areas of land which are bare. They call it “revolutionizing urban street tree programs.” Over 1,000 volunteers showed up to plant 20,000 trees on one day. I love this program. There are Million Tree programs in other cities across America & they are all successful. Not only do they result in a significant increase in the green canopy, programs like these educate people about the benefits of trees & by offering regular days where the community can be actively involved, create pride & ownership in the community. http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2010/02/24/2010-02-24_big_town_going_green_trees_bring_green_benefits_to_the_city.html#ixzz0h3k2oVDW
11. In Wellesley, Massachusetts USA more than 90 trees that were almost 100 years old & were 60-70 foot tall were chopped down by accident. How does this happen? Were the lumberjacks talking & just numbed out for a moment? http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2010/02/18/scores_of_trees_felled_in_error_on_wellesley_park_land/
12. In a generous green act, Chris Clark from Middle Tennessee USA is donating 100,000 trees in memory of his father who died 6 years ago. This is a fantastic gift to the community & further confirms my belief that people like to plant trees in memory of a loved one. http://www.wkrn.com/global/story.asp?s=12087906
13. 2,500 shade street trees are to be planted in Worchester USA to replace the same amount of street trees which were recently lost to the Asian Long-Horned Beetle. Where trees will be affected by overhead powerlines, they are planting ornamental trees & larger shade trees everywhere else. The comments after the article are quite interesting. http://www.telegram.com/article/20100302/NEWS/3020415/1116
14. In Lichfield Connecticut USA, it is illegal to tie a yellow ribbon around an old Oak tree or any tree for that matter even if it is to honor troops in Iraq & Afghanistan. I anticipate there will be peaceful civil disobedience about this. http://www.wfsb.com/news/22703733/detail.html
15. Lastly, a Welsh Oak tree died of the cold aged 1,200 years. (not a typo) It had a girth of 10.36 metres. It was called The Great Oak at the Gates of the Dead. From the article, According to legend, in 1165, King Henry II of England, preparing to meet Owain Gwynedd in the Battle of Crogen, commanded his men to clear Ceiriog Woods, but ordered the Great Oak to be spared. I bet there are many people who are very upset about the loss of this tree. It reached an astounding age & if it weren’t for the extreme weather this last winter, it may have lived for much longer. http://greenanswers.com/news/127110/winter-overcomes-1200-year-old-oak
1. Marrickville Councillors will be voting on a DA soon which will see the demolition of 2 houses built in the 1920’s at 34-36 Piggott St Dulwich Hill, the conversion of the original area manor house built in the early 1880′s as well as the loss of 15 mature trees to build a 3 & 4 storeys development overlooking Hoskins Park. The local community is rallying to prevent this development. They believe the DA has many negative impacts on the community as well as destroying a green corridor & the green outlook of Hoskins Park. It is DA 201000022 & can be accessed via Council’s web-site.
2. The Manly Daily reported last week that Warringah Council removed a much-loved palm tree planted on the verge in Forestville without consulting the community. http://manly-daily.whereilive.com.au/news/story/loved-palm-tree-gets-the-chop/ Interestingly, a cross was spray-painted on the tree’s trunk a few days before it
was chopped down. I note similar strange rune-like markings sprayed on a couple of the Hills Figs in Carrington Road Marrickville South. Were these put there by Council? Are Marrickville Council intending to remove these trees? I seem to remember 1 Fig tree was agreed to be removed for the new development which has recently commenced.
3. I wrote in the post Tempe Wetlands protest & trees at risk in Tempe that I would try to get further information about the mature trees at risk at the State Rail land in Edgar Street Tempe. Kerry, a local resident kindly left a comment (see comment roll) saying “I believe they (the trees) are under threat by the 27 townhouse development going in on the land next to the railway line. An underground car park & water tank retention system is to be built along the boundary line with the railway. At no stage have these trees been mentioned by the DA or State Rail or Marrickville Council’s tree officer.”
4. Sydney is getting it’s own 5.8 hectare Central Park at the old Carlton & United Brewery site at Broadway. This is a huge boon for the community on may levels & for Sydney’s urban wildlife. http://www.smh.com.au/national/central-park-off-broadway–thats-sydney-not-manhattan-20100209-notw.html
5. A little old as it was published last November. Hornsby Council intends to plant tree-lined boulevards with a councilor suggesting council create ‘immediate’ boulevards by planting trees which are already 4-5 metres tall. Wonderful if it happens & maybe cost effective considering the high loss of saplings Hornsby Council also experience. http://hornsby-advocate.whereilive.com.au/news/story/tree-lined-boulevardes-plan-for-hornsby/
6. City of Sydney Council recently planted numerous young trees along Glebe Point Road & some side streets. They used a porous hard substance to cover larger than average planting holes. The new street tree planting resulted in instant & significant greening of this already green street. Because of their size, I doubt they will be vandalized. It looks terrific.
7. The Star Tribune reported that a woman in Eden Prairie USA took to a tree service worker with a shot-gun to stop him chopping down a tree. We should never have this kind of action here. http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/homegarden/83607162.html?elr=KArksUUUoDEy3LGDiO7aiU
8. The Home Owners Association in San Diego California will chop down in excess of 200 mature Eucalypts because 1 fell on a house recently. The residents are campaigning to prevent the removal of the trees saying they are prepared to live with the risk. You can read the story & watch a video which is an interesting look at their urban environment. http://www.760kfmb.com/Global/story.asp?S=11985277
9. World Forestry day is coming up on 21 March 2010. Many countries plant thousands of trees on this day. I don’t know as yet whether our Council is participating. The NSW Department of Industry & Investment has a range of activities planned – http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/forests/info/escape
10. Lastly, the NSW Department of Climate Change & Water has a great resource about threatened species which may be of interest to those of you are concerned about the Bandicoots at Lewisham. http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/threatenedspecies/index.htm & http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/Search/QuickSearch.aspx
On 24th January 2010 I reported in Tree News Local & International of a report by The Cumberland Courier of the death of a grove of 40 year old Gums on a property in Boundary Road, Box Hill which was being investigated by Hills Shire Council & Castle Hill police. Seems Hills Shire Council believes the trees have been poisoned as they have drill holes in them. Apart from the Gums, a number of Ironbarks thought to be older than 100 years are also dying on this property. Sad. Sad. Sad. You can read the first part of the story here - http://cumberland-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/what-s-killing-box-hill-s-trees/
& the second follow-up article here – http://cumberland-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/dying-trees-may-be-over-100-years-old-council-confirms-trees-poisoned/
Energy Australia is getting more negative publicity this time from the Inner West Courier. http://inner-west-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/wrights-rd-drummoyne-ruined-days-after-resurfacing/
Coffs Harbour City Council just won a court case against a company owner for the removal of koala habitat trees on a Moonee property in June 2009. The company received a hefty fine. To read this click on the following - http://www.lgtra.com/in-the-news/7-council/61-tree-preservation-order-fines-highlight-need-for-awareness.html
I don’t know if this type of offence has always made news, but it seems to me that tree vandalism is making the news globally at the moment. I think this is terrific. When I was growing up people did dreadful things to trees & there was no-one to call them to account for it. The attitude was ‘man conquers trees’ & we have huge loss of forests world-wide & a massive reduction in the percentage of urban trees to show for it.
Times have changed & it seems the community is insisting that offences against trees be punished. This type of attitudinal shift will only benefit us in the long-term & perhaps over the next 30 years we can leave the world in a much better state than it is currently.
The Cooks River Valley Times this week had the intended massive expansion (more than double) of Marrickville Metro shopping centre on their front page. If AMP do get approval to expand Marrickville Metro, we will lose another lot of healthy, mature & old Hills Figs. There are more than 20 which surround the shopping complex. Apart from the food & shelter these trees give to local wildlife, they serve a very important role in disguising the visually unpleasant complex, which is basically a cement box with entrances & ramps leading to car parking. Okay, this is what malls generally look like, but the Figs are way too precious to be chopped down to significantly enlarge a centre where shop-keepers have told me during general chit-chat over last 2-3 years that they are struggling to survive. There are also a number of tall Eucalypts with trunks around 2-3 metres which may also have to go if the building expands outwards & not upwards. This DA is going to have a big impact for the community if it goes ahead. I seem to remember Marrickville Council’s Draft LEP mentioning something about new units planned to house thousands of people within 800 metres from Metro. Oh boy. More high-rise.
Integral Energy have “chastised some of its contactors for overzealous pruning of street trees” after the street trees in Christine Street Northmead were ruined. Intergal Energy admitted their contactor “got it wrong.” In the article written in the Cumberland Courier the energy company talks about their tree pruning practices & training.