Here is the red flowering gum in 2016 – short, but bulky.

Here is the same tree in February 2017 after being vandalised.  A dead Brushbox is on the right.

A close up of the vandalised tree. You can see that branches have been twisted and ripped off.

Around 5-6 years ago, Marrickville Council planted some red flowering gums along the verge on Livingstone Road near & in front of Marrickville Park.  At the time, I was very surprised as I think Council rarely plants flowering gums. Imagine if the streets were full of flowering gums instead of those awful weed trees Evergreen ash (Fraxinus griffithii), with their hundreds of thousands of seeds per tree.  Flowering gums come in orange, hot pink, soft pink & red flowers & are food producing for nectar-eating wildlife.  They are a short stature tree & perfect for under powerlines.

Unfortunately, Council was ripped off as these trees were the ones that only grow to 1 – 1.5 metres & over a very long time.  I do remember there was talk about removing them in one council meeting, but that did not go any further.

Every year these trees would burst into flower & look terrific.  Every time I passed I looked for them to assess their growth.

Last year Council planted six Queensland Brushbox trees outside the tennis courts on Livingstone Road in-between the flowering gums.  I thought this was wonderful. Brushbox trees grow tall, look lovely & have a great canopy.  This is the side of the road without powerlines so they could grow & eventually could create a visual link to the mature Brushbox trees in Marrickvile Park.

Unfortunately, only three of the newly planted Brushbox trees survived.  It may have been the extraordinary heat over the summer.  Who knows.

A few weeks ago I saw that the biggest red flowering gum, a quite substantial shrub really, had been vandalised.  Someone had twisted & ripped off all but one branch. It must have taken them a great deal of strength & energy to do this because the branches were quite thick.   Yet another public tree lost to an antisocial vandal who is against the public interest.

If I feel frustrated at the amount of tree vandalism that happens in the former Marrickville municipality, I think Council must be either pulling their hair out or numb with fatigue witnessing the destructive things the happen in public spaces.

There are some in our community who go out of their way to destroy any beauty in public spaces.  They would not pick up rubbish or pull weeds out from the verge or footpath as “this is council’s job,” but they think they have a right to vandalise or destroy a street tree because it is in front of their house or planted in a place they think a tree should not be. I have heard people express this sentiment a lot & I’ve never understood the contradictory personal ideology that creates it.

I scoffed when I read today, the following statement in a 2015 article in The Conversation about tree vandalism (http://bit.ly/2n5Ixq7)Larger councils with 50-100,000 trees have somewhere between five and 10 trees killed each year.”

At last count in 2012 the former Marrickville municipality had 22,608 street trees & I doubt this number has changed much.  I can say with complete confidence that at least 10 street trees are vandalised & killed each year just in the suburb of Marrickville, not the whole former Marrickville Council municipality.

Everyone must have read the Chinese proverb –  “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago.  The second best time is now.”   

It takes at least a decade for most newly planted trees to start providing any real benefits in terms of shade, carbon sequestration, pollution uptake & oxygen output.  The twenty years is needed to allow the tree time to grow into a decent size.

Anyway, Council has removed the three dead trees & the vandalised gum.  When looking at my photos tonight I realised that I had a photo of another flowering gum in this particular block & that too has been removed.  Maybe it was also vandalised.  So that is five dead or vandalised trees in what is the space of 40-metres.  Not bad hey?

I wrote a long list of reasons why I thought people vandalised trees here – http://bit.ly/2mCPnY8

Showing 5 of the 6 newly planted Brushbox trees and TWO red flowering gums. It was only after looking at these photos did I see that there was another red flowering gum alive and well here and this too has been removed. Maybe this one was vandalised as well.  The second gum is behind the second staked tree on the right. 

Showing the tree death in this location. Three Brushbox in a row died and one red flowering gum was vandalised. One other small gum tree has also been removed bringing the death count to five.

 

Planted in about 1860, this is a very important tree for Sydney.  I am pleased Metro kept new infrastructure away from this tree.

Looking at the front entrance from the side.

The new entrance to Marrickville Metro from the front.

Last post I said I would post some photos of the landscaping work being done at the Victoria Road entrance of Marrickville Metro.

I love that infrastructure was kept away from the magnificent heritage fig tree planted around 1860.  It is an extremely important tree for Marrickville & for Sydney.

I also love that the bench seats do not include a bar to prevent people from lying down.  I loathe defensive architecture & the negative message it sends.

Facing Mill house, on the right there is now a lovely small school vegetable garden for local St Pius’ Catholic Primary School & also what appears to be an outdoor classroom area.  From memory this area contained a few trees, so to me it looks entirely different.  However, it is a nice & useful green space.

I do like that extensive verge gardens have been created down Victoria Street & more gardens behind the temporary fence.

Metro has obviously tried.  It is just a pity that the main entrance area is so visually harsh & is also a heat sink.  I think they may come to regret this in the years to come.

The fence is temporary. What concerns me is that lack of shade for dogs.

The dog tie-up area in this location is connecting all dogs to the one pole & although water bowls have been kindly provided, I think the dogs will bake if left here for more than the shortest time.  I also think there is a high risk they will get tangled up with each other, which may cause conflict with some dogs who feel anxious or who have a need for personal space.

It is interesting to notice how the community feel a sense of ownership of what is essentially private property.  My guess is Metro want the community to feel connected to this shopping centre, which is why they have the community library.   Something else that is important is that Metro is a place visited weekly by a large chunk of the community, so how it looks has an impact on how we feel & for many, whether we return or not.

There is the well-known research that found that spending increased by a whopping 11% in leafy shopping strips, so it behoves shop keepers & shopping malls to retain trees & lobby for more trees & greenery outside their shops & in public spaces within the shopping strip.   People like trees & tend to linger in green spaces.  If they linger, they tend to spend more.

The area outside the main entrance has been the focus of much conversation on Facebook & many people have initiated conversation with me wanting to talk about what has been done here.  No-one mentioned the school garden, the chess area, the verge gardens or the tree removal, so I was surprised to see all the other work.  Unfortunately, I do not know how many mature trees were removed.  What people talked to me about concerned the entrance area & their emotions were strongly on the negative side.

Having looked at the work I think Metro did not succeed with the front entrance, but have done well in the other sections.    For me I remember when Metro wanted to remove many of the Figs & other street trees surrounding the centre.  I am so glad this has not happened & think it is a major boon for both the community & the wildlife.

Despite that this is a large shopping mall, the streetscape around the centre is quite unique for Marrickville.  I personally enjoy walking here & find the trees beautiful.  Metro could have so easily made the whole periphery look like the front entrance.

I do think Metro realises the community’s love for the leafy outlook of the shopping centre & their love for the trees.  They had a mission to rejuvenate this area & they incorporated aspects that were inclusive to the local school & to anyone in the community who wants to play chess & sit in the shade of the Fig tree.  There are good points & not so good points.  I have included quite a few photos so you can make up your own mind & so that the good work they have done is not overshadowed by the front entrance.

I think the black block is to become a water feature.  The shade is from the veteran Fig tree.

Giant chess.  What I do like is that not everything in this area is concrete.  Paths are permeable or are raised wooden paths.

St Pius’ Catholic Primary School’s vegetable garden.

Outdoor classroom behind the vegetable garden.

New gardens behind the temporary fence.  I may be wrong, but I think there were mature trees here.

New verge gardens are a nice addition to the streetscape.  Maybe they will stop trolley dumping.

 

The view of housing development on Canal Road Alexandria.

A little further along Canal Road Alexandria – housing.

Sydneysiders need to be aware & highly concerned at the rapid growth & loss of green space that is currently happening, plus the plans to take even more green space away.

Once the green space is gone, it is gone forever.

The loss of green space is a serious public health issue.  Green space not only provides valuable habitat for wildlife, but it also cools the area around it.  We need places with trees, grass & other vegetation.

We need green places for our mental, physical & spiritual health.  Without access to decent green spaces human beings tend to suffer.   People who suffer from mental illness can feel more settled when they are out in nature.

Recent research found without going into green spaces on a regular basis, people tend to get stressed, anxious, depressed, move less & gain weight.  Many of us suffer morbid rumination, where we go over & over what we perceive are our failings or what is wrong with our lives.  Just going for a walk where there are good trees can stop this mental thought process & improve our happiness & life satisfaction levels.

Green spaces provide us with a stress break in our busy lives & gives our mind a break from mental fatigue. Regular experience in the leafy outdoors helps improve work performance.  It also helps improve our cognitive function, memory & ability to learn & retain information.

The intellectual development of children improves when they have contact with nature.   Those who have ADD/ADHD tend to respond well to time spent in nature & have more content retention ability.

Research found that plants in the workplace resulted in decreased sick leave, so imagine the impact if there was nice green space for workers to have their lunch.

Those with Alzheimers or dementia are helped by being in green space & being able to touch plants.

Various studies have found that urban dwellers with little access to green spaces have a higher incidence of psychological problems than people living near parks and that city dwellers who visit natural environments have lower levels of stress hormones immediately afterward than people who have not recently been outside.”  See – http://nyti.ms/2lmPlzr

It is a fundamental need of human beings to have access to good green spaces.  By good green spaces, I am not talking about a small patch of green on a main street or in a shopping mall, though these do have a significant role to play in offering areas of respite & helping lowering the urban heat island effect.

We all need areas where we can exercise for free without needing to pay for a gym membership.  We need space to let off steam, to run, to shout, to play games alone or with friends.

We also need spaces where were can walk or sit quietly – where the only sound is nature; the wind in the trees & birds singing.  We must keep those we have & not over develop them.

In my opinion, Council has a fundamental responsibility not to turn every green space into an entertainment venue.    Places must be left where the only entertainment is what you can see in the natural environment around you.  If people become depended on things to be provided for them to do in parks, they will lose the ability to relax or amuse themselves with whatever is around.

As our suburbs become more developed, our stress levels are likely to rise just doing everyday things like driving & shopping.  Already traffic is a major negative issue in the locality & parking is often a nightmare.

Our streets are also green spaces – or they can be depending on the species of street tree planted.  Squatty small canopy street trees do not have an impact, but big, full canopy street trees do.  Have a look at the streets that are fortunate enough to have 80-year-old plus Brushbox trees.  In the evening on hot days you will likely see pockets of people who have gathered outside in the shade.  Good street trees are excellent at fostering connectivity between neighbours.

Verge gardens encourage connectivity as well.  People like to talk about plants & gardening.  Verge gardens offer the ability to swap plants & provide cuttings.

Today the news reported that the Total Environment Centre has identified more than 70 green spaces across Sydney at risk of being lost to development.  See – http://bit.ly/2nrf0qZ

This is most concerning.  If allowed to go ahead, habitat will be lost, wildlife will suffer & in cases like Cooks Cove where they want to develop the wetlands in Barton Park (see – http://bit.ly/2jey4Xi ) migratory birds, frogs & other creatures will die.

The report from the Total Environment Centre said, “Sydney will build 664,000 homes between 2011 and 2031, with 60-70 per cent coming from “infill” developments within existing city boundaries.” 

We as the community will have to make our voice heard, considering the views of Anthony Roberts, the Minister in charge of Planning and Housing Affordability who said, “Anti-development activists are welcome to suggest ideas to me that will help us grow housing supply in NSW while protecting their favourite trees.”

I’ve got an idea Minister Roberts.  How about leaving all the green spaces alone & not allowing development in these areas.  It’s quite simple really.  Leave the parks, the golf courses & riversides for the community & so people in the future can use them as well.

I get annoyed at the simplistic view of politicians who, whenever the community speaks out against developing areas like Barton Park wetlands, say they are anti-development NIMBYs wanting people to move out of Sydney.  Do these political leaders not see another way in which green spaces & areas of vital habitat cab be retained for the benefit of the whole community now & most certainly for the benefit of future generations?  It can be done.

We had three heatwaves in February 2017 & this is expected to get worse as climate change accelerates.  Green spaces are essential components of a livable city.  That or we take a risk every year that heat wave events will be more frequent.  Loss of human life has happened in cities across the world as a result of heat waves.  Our government warned us that the power supply was likely to be shut off because of increased use of air-conditioning.

The urban heat island effect is another serious health issue that is relatively ignored.  Roads are still being covered in black bitumen as a way of maintaining them despite knowing that these are major heat sinks.

On 10th February 2017 the temperature at Blaxland Riverside Park in Sydney Olympic Park was 41.6 degrees in the shade.  However, some of the soft play surfaces in the children’s playground were around 84 degrees.  The road surface in the car park was almost 73 degrees.  This gives you an idea of our future if our gardens & streets are not significantly greened & if we lose green spaces.  See – http://bit.ly/2lxujhu

“As Sydney’s population is growing there’s more houses, less trees, less green, more roads … it’s adding to the heat.  ….. The way we’re going – and adding another million people plus an airport, more roads, more pollution, more industry, we can expect 10 more extreme hot days a year over 35 [degrees] ….. It will become the norm. Without the proper designs [and planning] the problem will only get worse.” ~ Stephen Bali, president of the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils.

I remind you that the former Marrickville municipality has the least green space in Australia.  We cannot afford to lose any of it, not even a morsel despite whatever the so-called gain to the community is slated to be.  We cannot comment on public consultation in either the Leichhardt or Ashfield LGAs, despite being amalgamated into one large council.  Therefore, Marrickville’s abysmal amount of green space should not be watered down by including green space from the other two municipalities we have amalgamated with.

Council should be taking every opportunity they can to add to the green space by transforming suitable areas of public space.  I think they failed with Alex Trevallion Plaza in Marrickville Road Marrickville, the Marrickville Town Hall Forecourt & the latest being the unusually large street space area on the corner of Canterbury Road & Herbert Street Dulwich Hill, though this is my own opinion.

The public space outside the Victoria Road entrance of Marrickville Metro is also an area eliciting much conversation within the community.  All that I have read or heard has been negative.  Whether you like what Metro has done is personal, but there is no doubt a heat sink has been created with all that concrete & tiling.  It is also a big loss to see that a number of mature trees have been removed.

Corner of Canterbury Road and Herbert Street Dulwich Hill – an unusual opportunity by Council to make a truly green and inviting space for the community in this location. Missed opportunity and I bet this work cost a lot.

The space behind the above photo in Herbert Street Dulwich Hill. I am glad it is grass and not concrete, but what would be wrong with planting a couple of shade trees here and adding some benches. It could be a useful space for the community.

Marrickville Town Hall Forecourt today – ugly and hot.  Not an attractive meeting place for the community.  This cost $575,000

Alex Trevallion Plaza in Marrickville Road – speaks for itself.

Alex Trevallion Plaza. Two of the skinny gum trees died, so instead of replacing them, Council filled the holes with bitumen. Message: we cannot expect this place to look better for a long time.

New entrance to Marrickville Metro. I will post photos of their other landscaping work next post.  Numerous mature trees, a grassy knoll and plumbago hedge on three sides of seating was also removed.  It has been suggested that C stands for Concrete.

Click to enlarge.  Cartoon by Christopher Wilcox shared with thanks 🙂

Christopher Wilcox – https://www.facebook.com/christopher.wilcox.585

The crack is significant.

The crack is significant.  

Inner West Council has given notice that they intend to remove a Narrow-leafed red ironbark (Eucalyptus crebra) opposite 6 Tramway Avenue Tempe.

Tramway is a lovely street with lots of street trees.  The tree to be removed is the one with the sign.  I am glad that Council are replacing with another in this location.

Tramway is a lovely street with lots of street trees. The tree to be removed is the one with the sign. I am glad that Council are replacing with another in this location.

Council gives the following reasons for removal –

  • “Tree has significant crack in the main trunk causing it to be structurally unsound.
  • The tree poses an unacceptable level of risk to the public and property.”

Council says they will replace with a Red Iron Bark (Eucalyptus sideroxylon) as part of the 2017 Street Tree Planting Program between May & September.

The deadline for submissions is Friday 3rd March 2017. 

 

 

Brittle gum in Stafford Street Stanmore.

Sydney blue gum in Stafford Street Stanmore.  It looks like a sick tree with a poor canopy.  Unfortunately the canopy does not show well in this photo.  A tree behind makes it look fuller than it is.  

You can see the damage in the trunk of the Brittle Gum.

You can see the damage in the trunk of the Sydney blue gum.

Inner West Council has given notice that they intend to remove two public trees in Stanmore.

Tree number 1:  a Sydney Blue Gum (Eucalyptus saligna) outside 13 Stafford Street Stanmore.

Council gives the follow reasons for removal –

  • “Tree has previously had several major branch failures which have resulted in weakened structural integrity.
  • The tree poses an unacceptable level of risk to the public and property.”

Council says they will replace with a Jacaranda (Jacaranda mimosifolia) in the 2017 Street Tree Planting Program between May & September.

I agree this tree needs to go.   While I like Jacarandas, I think it is a shame to replace a big native tree species with an exotic.

The deadline for any submissions is Friday 3rd March 2017.

Tree number 2: a Brittle Gum (Eucalyptus mannifera) outside 62 Percival Road Stanmore.

Council gives the follow reasons for removal –

  • “Tree has poor vitality and significant canopy dieback
  • Major open wound to trunk with decay and loss of structural wood.
  • The tree poses an unacceptable level of risk to the public and property.”

Council says they will replace with a Spotted Gum (Corymbia maculata) during the 2017 Street Tree Planting Program between May & September.

I agree this tree needs to go & think it is good that Council is replacing a native with a native.

The deadline for any submissions is Friday 10th March 2017.

Brittle gum in Percival Road.

Brittle gum in Percival Road.  Not much canopy left.

The trunk of the Brittle gum in Percival Road.

The trunk of the Brittle gum in Percival Road.

Rainbow Lorikeet

Rainbow Lorikeet drinking nectar 

When we first moved to Marrickville just over two decades ago, there were only Currawongs & Indian mynas in our street.  The Currawongs would leave in the morning & return at dusk.  The Currawongs would move somewhere else for spring & summer leaving the Indian mynas to rule.  What we heard most of the time was traffic & plane noise.  There were very few natural sounds.

New people started to move into the neighbourhood & we all started gardening.  Some of our neighbours planted cottage garden type plants, while others like ourselves went totally native & included some natives indigenous to this area.

We had a rule – unless it was spectacular, what we planted had to be able to provide food for birds or bats & at the very least, bees & other insects.

And then it happened….. the noise of our street changed.  All kinds of birds started to visit.

It was slow at first.  We started to identify different bird calls. Sometimes small groups of around 10-20 birds would visit.  The birdbath was used every day.  Evidence of their splashing was noticed & the water had to be replenished.  We would walk out the front door only to cause a mad fluttering of wings as bathing birds got interrupted.

Every year the sounds of birds were built upon.  A common question was, “What is that bird?”  The Birds in Backyards website was used often trying to identify the latest visitor.

A nest was spotted.  It turned out to be a pair Red Wattle birds.  Having been woken up by these flying alarm clocks for many years, I don’t feel like home is quite right unless there are Red Wattle birds around, so I was very happy about this.  Unfortunately, Ausgrid pruned off the branch that held their nest (in spring when they were breeding no less) & we feared we had lost them.   It was with much joy that we saw they had rebuilt in a branch of another street tree, closer to our house.  The branch is still at risk, but hopefully we will be able to convince Ausgrid to leave it be whenever they visit.

The Red Wattle bird pair have had three successful breeding seasons now.  They must like gardeners because they fly low over our heads when we are outside & even when they see our car.  We get greeted with a “Kuk Kuk!” most times we venture outside.

Little White eyes visit every day chattering at a million miles an hour when the right flowers are out.  They sound like a party.   For the last two years Rainbow lorikeets have visited the verge garden & their idea of party noise is much louder.  This season they come every 3-4 hours.  I imagine they circle the neighbourhood visiting known food sources returning after they have given the flowers time to replenish their nectar.  It is so much nicer than listening to traffic.

Someone else’s tree planting has attracted an Eastern Koel.  These birds migrate all the way from Papua New Guinea every summer.  Many people find these birds irritating, but I like the sound of his plaintive call calling for a mate.  I don’t find it too hard to go back to sleep after waking at 3am To “Kooel!  Kooel!”  The only time I had difficulty was when he sat in the street tree that was maybe 8-metres from our bedroom window.   I did mutter a bit that night.

One of the lovely things about living in Marrickville is the nightly wave of flying foxes that travel overhead at dusk.  I think they are beautiful to watch & especially like watching them from Turrella or from the Cooks River.  It’s a peaceful thing to do on a warm evening.

A pair of flying foxes have started to spend time eating from our street – the street trees & the trees in private gardens.   Their chattering sounds are quite lovely to hear in the background.   Flying foxes are experiencing a food shortage at present resulting in the death of many of their pups, so it is excellent to know that our effort is helping provide food for them.

There are bee hives in the area, which is great for our garden.  Bees are in trouble worldwide, so again, it is wonderful to know that we are doing our bit to help them survive just by making choices with what we plant.

We have a huge Salvia, which is totally inappropriate for our small garden, but we keep it because native Blue Banded bees come to feed from the flowers most days in the warmer months.    There are other native bees that hover & feed in this plant too.

There are lots of other species of bird that visit now & some are seasonal.  I can’t express how much better it is to live with a range of bird song & not just Indian mynas.  As an aside, I often read that Indian mynas chase away the native birds.  This has not been our experience.  The Indian mynas are still here of course, but they are overwhelmed by the sheer number of native birds that come here & that have moved into trees in people’s gardens.  The mynas no longer own this territory & they know it, so they quietly go about their own business.

If you want Indian mynas, lay a huge concrete slab driveway or concrete your back yard because they love concrete & bitumen. 

If you don’t want Indian mynas, plant a variety of food-producing native plants & trees & before long, the Indian mynas will be overrun by the new kids on the block.  You will be too busy noticing the native birds that you won’t see the Indian mynas.

In Part 2 I will write about ideas on improving biodiversity in small gardens & even balconies.

Here it is.  It blends in with the other close trees, which is optimal for wildlife.

Here it is. It blends in with the other close trees, which is optimal for wildlife.

Last December I posted about two new habitat trees in Mackey Park Marrickville next to the Cooks River.  See – http://bit.ly/2lvRKKn

The Inner West Council said they had created three new habitat trees, but I was unable to find the third tree.  Well I found it.  It is one of the poplars close to the Rowers Club on the river side of the shared pathway.

I hope Council plants at least three new trees in this park to make up for the canopy loss of the others.  There is room.

And the flying foxes put on a wonderful show

And the flying foxes put on a wonderful show

The Wolli Creek Preservation Society is holding their annual ‘Bat Watch’ Picnic again.  It is a great evening outing to have a picnic, then watch the Grey-headed flying foxes head out in search of food.  Personally I think it is a beautiful sight.

DATE:            Friday 10th March 2017

TIME:             6.30pm – 8.30pm.  There will be ‘batty crafts’ for the kids from 6.30pm.

ADDRESS:   Turrella Reserve, Earlwood.

BRING:          You, your family & friends, food & drink, something to sit on & insect repellent because the mosquitoes can be bad.

Screenshot from video taken by Simon Dilosa

Screenshot from video taken by Simon Dilosa

Very exciting to see a video of a shark swimming up the Alexandra Canal at Mascot yesterday.    Apparently, it headed back to the Cooks River, which is a good thing because the water is awfully shallow where it was.

You can watch the video taken by Simon Dilosa here –

https://www.facebook.com/dorsalaus/?hc_ref=PAGES_TIMELINE&fref=nf

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