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The upgrade of the front section of Sydenham Green along Unwins Bridge Road in Tempe was completed a couple of weeks ago. This park has always puzzled me in that there are relatively few trees for the space. Sydenham Green seems to have been designed with a Placemaking idea behind it as there is an obviously designated meeting place in the centre of the park. This section is quite theatrical with an amphitheatre & a great arch. There is a giant teapot, kettle & a giant lounge that offers stepped seating. I guess these represent home & pay tribute to the homes that were once here before they were demolished due to extreme noise from planes taking off & landing. Much of the artwork is painted & fired tiles made by local school children & they are great, well worth a look. I have been there a number of times & it is always empty. Maybe because it is hot.
The entrance to Sydenham Green opposite the St Peters-Sydenham Library is the section of the park that was most puzzling to me. It was, until recently, a large area of grass, a couple of Gum trees & a large section of terracotta coloured pavers & grass that had benches placed in & around it. It puzzled me because I couldn’t work out why the seats had been placed in that particular way & why this layout was deemed inviting.
I thought that the best things about this section of the park was a row of Callistemon that lined the front edge of the park. I also quite like the sculpture that tells of the history of Sydenham Green & I love that it has a natural birdbath carved into the sandstone.
Today we went to have a look at the finished upgrade. Hmmmm. We did not think it good-looking, but this is only a matter of personal taste. Maybe plenty of other people will think it looks good.
The problem I have is that Marrickville Council removed the permeable hard & soft surfaces & replaced them with hard, impermeable surfaces – concrete & black bitumen. This will make the area hotter than before & ensure that the stormwater runs off instead of the rain soaking into the ground as it did previously.
Council has also removed the row of bird-feeding Callistemon replacing them with grasses, some other small growing plants & 2 Crepe myrtle trees, none of which provide food for birds.
Should we care about this? I believe we should. So many food sources for urban wildlife have been removed over decades due to urbanisation. Current garden trends are removing even more. I believe that it is incumbent on Councils to ensure that they plant sufficient food sources for urban wildlife all over the place; in car parks, as street trees & especially in parks. If there are insufficient food sources our urban wildlife will slowly disappear. Most of them just can’t move to another area. Plant a couple of Grevilleas or Red Flowering Gums & watch the increase of birds. They arrive in large numbers. It’s a happy sound.
An ornamental wall has been built at the front with the name of the park in silver letters. Clear, visible letters is great. The benches are back in a new configuration & now you have to choice of facing the grass or the bitumen.
8 Crepe myrtle & 8 Lilly pilly trees have been planted. 2 Lilly pillys have already died. The trees were not planted near the benches, nor are they of a species that will create shade so the place will remain hot. Time will tell whether it remains empty.
The 2 Prunus trees on the footpath have either been replaced or have come back to life after they were vandalised.
The design layout is an improvement of what was previously there, but the choice of both ground surface materials & tree species fail to meet the needs of this era of climate change. I am confident in saying this because all recent literature about urban landscaping & placemaking speaks about such simple things as using albedo surfaces & planting sufficient shade-producing trees to make a cool environment that is not only useable for the community, but actually encourages them to go there.
See what you think. I have put up a 1.47 minute YouTube video of the works at Sydenham Green here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dkcto3Cdsvs