A large grass tree just inside the entrance provides a great introduction. to the garden. To the left out of view is a stunning Grey gum, but unfortunately, I did not take a good photo of it.

Seats are scattered throughout the garden offering beautiful views and an opportunity to stop and listen to the birds.

We recently went to visit Joseph Banks Native Plants Reserve at Kareela & what a delightful find this turned out to be.

Established in 1968 by Sutherland Shire Council, the reserve is to honour British Botanist Sir Joseph Banks who visited Botany Bay on Lieutenant James Cook’s sailing ship the Endeavour in 1770.

The reserve is a total of 2.2 hectares with 4kms of paths that meander around a hill of quite stunning sandstone outcrops.  All paths are sealed, but they wind down the hill with steps that would make it difficult for wheelchairs to navigate.

There are, however, very beautiful spots with seating at the top of the reserve close to the car park that are accessible to everyone.

About way down the hill is a barbeque area with bench seating.  It would not be hard to carry cooked food back to people seated at the top of the reserve.  There are accessible toilets onsite near the car park.

All plants & trees in the reserve are Australian natives & most are labelled, which I particularly liked.  All sorts of trees & plants were in flower & there were lots of birds.  Despite being near a road, it was nice to listen to the birds & the wind through the trees.

I talked to a very helpful staff member who spoke about his love for the reserve & how the landscape changes with every season.  Winter is particularly good when the Banksias flower.   People get married here often.

This place is a gift to the Sydney community from Sutherland Council.  If you enjoy being in the bush I think you will really like this place.  I would definitely take visitors from overseas here for an easy walk in a beautiful setting.

The Joseph Banks Native Plants Reserve is open from 9am – 5pm 7 days a week EXCEPT Good Friday & Christmas Day.  Parking is available onsite.  To enter the gardens is free.

I highly recommend visiting the reserve.   The Australian Plants Society – Sutherland Group holds monthly gardening working bees & welcomes volunteers.  Contact Council on 9710 0333 for more information.

Both Sutherland Shire Council & the Australian Plants Society – Sutherland Group have excelled & I thank them for such a beautiful place to visit.

Looking down to the barbecue area. There is no litter, no evidence of vandalism or any graffiti.

This is a garden where you look up often. The sandstone and the plants make it worth doing so.

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A lovely fig trees in Marrickville Golf Course.

Every year, between 3 & 4 million people around the world die as a result of air pollution & its lifelong impacts on human health, from asthma to cardiac disease to strokes.  

Each summer, thousands of unnecessary deaths result from heat waves in urban areas. Studies have shown that trees are a cost-effective solution for both of these challenges. 

And too often, the presence or absence of urban nature – & its myriad benefits – is tied to a neighbourhood’s income level, resulting in dramatic health inequities.  In some American cities, life expectations in different neighbourhoods, located just a few miles apart, can differ by as much as a decade.  Not all of this health disparity is connected to tree cover, but researchers are increasingly finding that neighbourhoods with fewer trees have worse health outcomes, so inequity in access to urban nature makes worse health inequities.”  ~ The Nature Conservancy 2017.

The report may have been about America’s urban forest, but it makes no difference.  The findings are useful world-wide, including our little patch in Sydney’s Inner West.

In my assessment the quality of the urban forest & the canopy cover of the former Marrickville municipality has not changed since the 2014 report, ‘Benchmarking Australia’s Urban Tree Canopy: An i–Tree Assessment, Final Report.’

Now we are amalgamated with Ashfield & Leichhardt municipalities, their urban forest becomes our concern & visa versa.  In 2014 the three municipalities scored the following –

Leichhardt was the winner with a 20.3% tree canopy & 59.8% hard surfaces.

Ashfield won second place with a 19.8% tree cover & 57.4% hard surfaces.

Marrickville came last with an abysmal 16.3% tree canopy & 63.4% hard surfaces.

This is not to say Inner West Council – Marrickville are not planting trees.  They are. They reported that they planted 1,000 street trees across the three former municipalities, which I think is not much & not nearly what is needed.   Council also removes trees.  Development is having an impact on the canopy & so is vandalism.  WestConnex is having a massive impact on tree removal along its above ground route.

I am not familiar with Ashfield, but having lived in the Inner West for the past 40-years, I am familiar with many of the streetscapes across the former Leichhardt & Marrickville municipalities.   I look at street trees that have been there for more than my 40-years & this is a great thing to see.  I am one of those people who love to look at trees.  They make me feel comfortable.  Treeless landscapes or skylines make me feel flat & oppressed.   Recent research has found my response is normal.  The research found that few trees in the landscape results in greater rates of depression & kids finding it hard to learn & retain information amongst other things.

My wish for 2018 is for the Inner West Council to significantly increase funding for street trees, parks & other green spaces.   If our area is to be made greener & healthier for us, then the number of street trees & park trees planted need to increase substantially.   More trees please.

It takes at least a decade for most trees to grow to a size where they have a visual impact, so if we are to get the amenity from trees like shade & clean air, then we need to get trees into the ground as soon as possible.    I say “most” because I have seen how fast a Poplar takes to reach a significant height.  These trees grow so fast you can almost watch it happen.

No-one can deny that it is hard being out on the streets in this hot summer weather.  I’ve been out most days & noticed that a lot of people are not coming out of their homes until 4pm or later due to the heat & lack of shade.

We in the community need to do our bit too.  We need to plant a tree or shrub in our garden if we have the space to do so.  We also need to make concrete gardens a thing of the past & give stamped concrete driveways the flick too.  These only make our house hotter & we pay higher power bills as a result.

I was very impressed with Inner West Council – Marrickville’s free tree giveaway for 2016-2017. It is a terrific initiative & will build upon the urban forest.  I hope the tree giveaway becomes a regular feature for National Tree Day.

Community attitudes toward trees are changing.  I have noticed more people like & want public trees compared to when I started this blog in 2009, which is  great & something Council should capitalise on.

With climate change making our seasons hotter, we need to make the changes that will cool down our streets & public spaces & planting trees is a major way to achieve this.  Plus, trees are beautiful & soften the landscape.  They make us feel good even when we are not aware of this.  They help keep us healthy & happy & they bring in more wildlife.    So, let’s make 2018 the year of tree awareness & get more trees in the ground.

Happy New Year.  I hope this is an excellent year for you & your loved ones.  Thank you for reading.  I appreciate it.  Jacqueline 🙂

Council did well to plant a gum tree here in this perfect place on Myrtle Street Marrickville, but someone did not think so.  It was vandalised 3 times….until it was dead. Thanks – not.

 

 

The lovely Fig in Richardson Reserve Marrickville South. 

Happy Christmas.    I hope you are having a nice day with no worries.

This photo was sent to me by a local resident. As you can see, there is a significant amount of the canopy on the ground ready to go through the woodchopper.  The tree that was pruned is visible behind the woodchopper.  Thanks to the resident for allowing me to use this photo.  

It is the season of peace & goodwill & I would prefer to be writing positive posts.  However, I am getting messages from distressed residents about Inner West Council – Marrickville’s tree pruning, so I need to write something.

Inner West Council is currently pruning the street trees in Marrickville South. I spoke to Council’s tree pruners earlier this year, so I was surprised when they were back again so soon.

Our street trees get “managed” from all directions – Ausgrid, development & Council.  Vandals also do things to the street trees, though I am not suggesting that Council are vandals.  Imagine having three groups coming on a regular basis to give you a haircut & maybe lop your ears off.  It is no wonder so many street trees look unattractive.

My observation with pruners is that they come once to prune.  The next time they come they take off more branches that were deemed okay the last visit & no, they haven’t grown so much to be noticeable.  Ausgrid does this & over.  In a very short time, the trees get reduced into a shadow of their former self.  Ausgrid prunes the top & Council prunes the bottom.

Inner West Council – Marrickville says on their website –

“Street trees will be pruned to:

  • Remove any dead, dying or dangerous branches
  • Allow clearance for pedestrians and vehicles
  • Allow clearance to buildings (where practicable)
  • Improve their health and structure.”

So, what is the problem?  This is what has been relayed to me.

I had no knowledge that this was happening today;… Apparently, they are pruning to Australian standards & to protect workers so grass can be mowed, and so footpath is clear & people can walk to their cars.  [they] were saying most people want the trees cut out!!”   Sounds reasonable except if you know the tree was not causing a problem to begin with.   I know this tree.  It was not intruding on the footpath, nor did it prevent people from getting to their car.  What it did have was branches low down on the trunk & as far as I have observed, this is not acceptable by Council.

“This work is being done on the smaller trees to “shape them” and make it easier for council to cut grass from base of trees and away from pedestrians using footpath. This means that the trees look like pom poms and the removal of the dense bottom canopy is not appealing at all to me.”   

“Contractor tried to tell me it’s not my tree & I have no right to protest it’s being trimmed; when I lovingly water it I feel I have some say in its up keep! And will continue fighting for it to live!!!!”    The photo above will show you just how much of the bottom canopy of this tree was removed.

The residents do not believe the trees needed pruning & if the tree  did by Council’s standards, the residents believe that the pruning was excessive.

It is heatwave conditions at the moment.  The weather forecast for the next week is four days well above 30 degrees & five days of extreme UV index.  It can’t be good for trees to undergo so much stress in these weather conditions.  I recently learnt that trees can get sunburnt.    We still have the really hot months ahead of us.

The trees are in flower providing much needed food for wildlife & also beauty for the streetscape.  Many people wait for the flowers on trees to bloom.  Much of the flowers went into the woodchipper.

Surely it is  better to prune trees when they aren’t in flower.  It would not matter so much if we had tonnes of food-producing trees across Inner West Council – Marrickville’s section, but we don’t.  Bird-life would not be missing out on essential food supply.

Inner West Council Marrickville says on their website –

Proactive maintenance based on an annual cycle and is carried out in within a precinct according to the calendar month, i.e. January is precinct one, February is precinct two and so on.”

I downloaded their map & saw that Marrickville South is allocated June, the 6th month.  It is December, the 12th month.  Enter the website  via the Marrickville portal & they say they are doing street tree maintainance & list streets in Balmain.  That’s a bit confusing. 

To finish, I do believe Council needs to ensure that their pruners do not over prune.  Council put up signs saying Ausgrid was over pruning trees.  This was great & wonderfully supportive for the community who were reeling from the damage to street trees done by Ausgrid pruners.  What is not so great is the community perception that Council are doing the same.

One of three Environmental Vandalism signs put up by Inner West Council

It seems some have missed the beauty of the Cooks River.  Rather than pay a tipping fee, they think it is okay to sneak up the pedestrian path & dump a trailer load or three of building rubble into the river.   It is such a shame that a small financial gain for the vandal destroys our precious river environment.

The former Marrickville Council has worked for years to improve the health & ecology of the river, as have other Councils along the river.   Community group The Mudcrabs have also spent countless hours planting the riverbank & cleaning litter from the river.  I doubt whoever the vandal is has ever thought about this.

To protect our river & to stop this happening again, the Inner West Council needs to install bollards/gates at all entrance points.  Of course, these can allow entry to Council vehicles, but anyone else – no.   Not doing this means that Council runs the risk of someone dumping chemicals or other toxic substances into the river & causing a mass killing event of those creatures that live in the river.  This cannot be allowed to happen.

I thank Council for their speed in acting & for the community education by way of signs.  It is good for people to know about this.  I also hope the dumped debris is cleaned up fast.

Dumped into the Cooks River at Marrickville.  This does matter.  Photo taken at low tide. 

 

The moment of eye contact

Now I turn around and show you my back.

I ride up & down the Cooks River often & I am always on the lookout for birds. So, it was with great delight that I watched what I thought was a darter doing a magnificent display in the middle of the river.

It appeared to be washing.  Once the bird realised that it was being watched it became more demonstrative literally heaving itself out of the water, using its tail feather like a rudder & flapping its massive wings.    It did a range of movements for approximately 3-minutes.  Once it finished, it lifted itself out of the water & flew downriver.

Once home I got to have a closer look at my photographs & decided it looked more like a great cormorant than a darter.  An ornithologist friend confirmed my identification.

I am sure others have seen great cormorants on the river, but for us, this was a first-time sighting.

The great cormorant is an excellent swimmer.  It chases fish by propelling itself underwater with its feet  & holding its wings close to its body.  It can stay underwater for up to one minute.

The more we take care of the river, the more we are rewarded with sights like this.

Getting ready

I am about to stand up

A bad photo unfortunately. Those wings were beating fast. Look at the strength to rise up out of the water like this.

And here I come down into the water again. Look at those beautiful wings.

The worst day of the Cooks River I have ever seen. This was everywhere….slowly floating down the river towards Botany Bay. Photo taken May 16 2016.

Finally, a container deposit scheme has started in NSW.   It has been a long time coming.  Called ‘Return and Earn,’ drink containers can be taken to a collection point for a rebate of 10 cents for every container returned.

A sickening 160-million drink containers become litter in NSW every year.

We are used to seeing plastic bottles in the Cooks River & caught in the mangroves.   It would be fantastic not to have this visual blight in the river & all the associated problems these drink containers cause wildlife, so let’s embrace this.

You can find a collection point here – http://www.returnandearn.org.au

The new area.  This and the photo below shows the whole site.

Sometime during winter the Inner West Council – Marrickville cleared the grass below & around their latest ‘habitat trees’ in Mackey Park.  The cordoned off area lay there for a few weeks until it was covered with wood chip.  About a fortnight ago I noticed that the area had been planted with small plants like native grasses.   The more areas that support wildlife the better in my opinion.

Hopefully it fills out.

Tree number one – taller than a two-storey building. It used to look as lush as the tree behind it.

This is a fine example of tree vandalism on Liberty Street Stanmore.  Many thanks to the person who wrote & told me about it.

Two mature trees both dead.  I didn’t need to look hard to see the drill holes, which were plugged to keep the poison in & I presume to camouflage the holes.

There are four street trees along this block.  It goes – one dead tree, one living tree, one dead tree, one living tree.  Perhaps the vandal thought to confuse us or just had a natural sense of rhythm.  I don’t understand why anyone who would do this, except to say they are selfish.   The loss of these two trees will have a negative impact on the community.  This is a busy road & all the trees along here work hard to remove particulate matter & improve air quality.

I ask Inner West Council to replace them in the next planting season please.  If those trees get vandalized, plant again.

At some stage this council needs to consider CCTV in places where public trees are repeatedly vandalized.

Tree number two.

Poisoned and plugged

A small section of Sydney Park that was cleared to widen Campbell Street St Peters for WestConnex.

130,000 hectares of vegetation, including trees, has been lost to the construction of Stage 3 of WestConnex along the 7.5-kilometre tunnels between Haberfield & St Peters.  Sydney Park took a severe battering losing more then 500 trees.

In 2016 Roads & Maritine Services said that they would plant 3,500 replacement trees of a minimum pot size of 75 litres.  The trees would be about 3-metres or taller in size.  However, they have changed their mind allowing replacement trees of 150 mm pot size, “in pots as tall as a Bic-brand ballpoints…”  See – http://bit.ly/2AiHsmn

“The RMS’ revised tree policy says only 500 trees will now be 75 litres; it argues there is simply not space for all trees to be as big as its initial commitment.”

The remaining 3,000 trees to be planted will be saplings.  My observation over the years is that saplings have a much harder time surviving than do more advanced size trees, so there is a big chance a large percentage of these trees will be lost.  Saplings are more sensitive to lack of water & they are also easier to vandalize.  They will be small enough for people to tread on them or simply snap their trunks.  If they do survive it will take years for these saplings to grow to a size where their risk is lower.

If as they say, “there is simply not space for all trees to be as big as its initial commitment,” what will happen in the unlikely event that all 3,000 saplings survive & grow to a decent size?  The government’s argument does not seem logical.  If you say you cannot fit in all the trees, why would planting saplings help the issue?

I think this change is being done to save money, yet the lack of decent size trees will have a cost on the community in terms of negative health impacts from the poor air quality produced by the thousands of vehicles that will use this motorway every day.  The very least the community needs is trees.  Filtered smoke stacks are essential too, but so far, this is not happening either.

There is a kind of despair I have noticed in my local community whenever WestConnex is raised.  People are angry that whole communities are being demolished & separated for this motorway.  It’s like a giant iron snake cleaving its way through the inner west & its source of nutrition is houses & trees.  If we do have to have this polluting road, then at least it should be hidden behind a bank of trees to not make the residents a further casualty in terms of loss of health.

There has been an abundance of research of late all showing how necessary trees are for human health.  Particulate matter spewed out in vehicle exhaust causes irritated eyes, nose & throat, heart & lung disease, including asthma & chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, increased hospital admissions & a reduction in life expectancy.  This is what the NSW government is gifting the people of the inner west if they do not plant sufficient trees to help mitigate the impact of this motorway.  I would argue that there will be a negative health impact of the motorway anyway, but to not plant decent sized trees is just asking for trouble.

A section of the tree removal in Sydney Park for WestConnex

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