Beautiful sign from a  young person who knows the value of trees.   Photo by Selma Tracey Sergent with thanks.

Beautiful sign from a young person who knows the value of trees. Photo by Selma Tracey Sergent used with thanks.

Australian singer Olivia Newton-John has launched the ‘One Tree Per Child’ initiative in Bristol England to increase their urban forest. See – http://bit.ly/17pJuRA

The ‘One Tree Per Child’ global campaign was launched in early 2013 by Jon Dee of ‘Planet Ark’ & ‘Do Something’ with Olivia Newton-John. The campaign’s aim is for every child in the world under ten to plant at least one tree as part of a school project.

Bristol is the first city to take on the challenge of ‘One Tree Per Child’ with 36,000 primary school students taking part.  Not only do the children get to plant a tree, but they also receive education from experts about the environment.

Bristol City Council is covering the cost of the trees & tools. The school grounds will be planted first & the Council will find other sites for the remaining trees to be planted.

“Planting trees and shrubs is a great way for school children to connect to the environment & their local community. As a child’s tree grows, their commitment to the environment & their local community grows as well.” ~ Mayor George Ferguson, Bristol City Council.  I think he is right.

I think this is a terrific initiative & the positive impact on the children taking part is likely to last a lifetime.

It is my belief that if you want environmentally responsible adults, you need to teach them the value of the environment while they are children.

This project is more than listening to words in a classroom. Being able to get their hands dirty while planting a tree actively connects the children to the environment & opens their eyes to the beauty & benefits of nature. It also instills a sense of pride & ownership. Being able to see that they have improved the visual outlook of the community, as well as provided food & habitat for wildlife would have an immense positive impact.

Children are busting to have the opportunity to plant trees.  This is very evident every year when hundreds of children participate in planting trees on National Tree Day in Sydney Park.

I think it would be great for Marrickville Council to take part in the ‘One Tree Per Child’ initiative.  Even if not all primary school students could take part due to lack of necessary funds, at least Year 6 of every school every year could. This is achievable & would help get our tree canopy above the woeful 16.3% that it is now.

If kids actually had the opportunity to plant trees, this kind of disrespect towards trees may become a thing of the past.

If kids actually had the opportunity to plant trees & watch them grow, this kind of disrespect towards trees may become a thing of the past.  

The view of the new garden from Marrickviklle Road.   Three small children were inspecting the plants while I was there.

The view of the new garden from the footpath on Marrickville Road. With serveral new trees & hedges, this corner will develop into something that really enhances the local landscape.  Three small children were inspecting the plants while I was there.

I read in ‘Marrickville Matters’ that St Clement’s Anglican Church at the corner of Marrickville & Petersham Roads won ‘Best Commercial Garden’ in Marrickville Council’s 2014 Spring Garden Competition.  Deservedly so – because it is terrific.

I first noticed this garden when riding past one day & went back later for a sticky-beak.  I really like this garden & I think children especially, will enjoy it.

A shady seat beside a NSW Christmas tree, which has been putting on a good show for a few years.

A shady seat beside a NSW Christmas tree, which has been putting on a good show for a few years.

Set in a small space between the church building & the side fence fronting Petersham Road, the garden does much with the space. Small rooms have been created – something garden designers love.

There are areas with seats for quiet reflection around the perimeter of the church, including the areas not visible from the road. Other seats are scattered throughout the garden & many of these are small child height.  An olive tree is planted in the middle of a circular wire seating arrangement, while a NSW Christmas tree provides shade for a bench seat near the gate.  Camelias & fruit trees have been planted as well.

There is even a ‘fairy circle’ of wooden toadstools – perfect for a gathering of little children. The fairy circle is visible & close to the front door of the church. I can see kids racing to gather here while their parents are chatting with others at the front door after the church service.  I don’t know whether this happens, but this garden is ripe for activities like this.

A log seat & a path that winds around the garden bed.   I like the hedge as well.

A casual log seat & a path that winds around the garden bed. I like the hedge as well.

The original brick fence has been retained – good for keeping a sense of local history, & a deep yellow low picket fence installed for the remaining perimeter. Orange jessamine (Murraya paniculata) has been planted to form a low hedge inside the fence line. It’s very good to see greenery added in this way, when many would have stopped at a fence.

The paths are very interesting & serve to help delineate the ‘rooms’ throughout this small space.  All the paths are permeable, which is terrific for stormwater management.  Getting rid of unnecessary concrete is something we should all be aiming to do in our own gardens.  Less concrete cuts out the heat retention as well.

Rocks, small wooden logs, wooden planks, pavers & old bricks have been used in artistic ways between areas of small pebbles. There is barely a straight line to be seen, which not only adds interest to the paths, but also softens the whole space. I believe that most people react well to curves, even if unconsciously.

Another section of the path through the garden.  I loved the different surfaces.  They served to attract your eyes down & into the garden.

Another section of the path through the garden. I loved the different surfaces. They served to attract your eyes down & into the garden.

Many of the plants are Australian natives & if they are not, they are fragrant & perfect for little hands to touch & smell.

For as long as I can remember, there have been trees & a thriving garden at the front of St Clement’s, which adds a rare patch of beauty along this stretch of Marrickville Road.

To me, St Clement’s is one of the historical ‘gateways’ to Marrickville with the Town Hall & Fire Station across the road & the lovely St Briget’s Church one block west. This is a section of particularly good historical buildings, so it is great to see another aspect of beauty being added in the form of a garden, which is visually & physically accessible to the community.

I really like what they have done. It is a captivating garden in my opinion & will only get better as the plants & trees grow.  Well done on receiving an award for this initiative.

Two wonderful fence posts incorporated to create a very Australian design.  Note the Red Flowering gum tree, which will also add beauty & colour, as well as provide food for wildlife.

Two wonderful fence posts incorporated to create a very Australian design. Note the Red Flowering gum tree, which will also add beauty & colour, as well as provide food for wildlife.

One of many seats offering a place to rest or contemplate.

One of many seats offering a place to rest or contemplate.

The paths really caught my attention.  They are permeable, using recycled materials & artistic.   They will be fascinating to children.

The paths really caught my attention. They are permeable, using recycled materials & artistic. They will be fascinating to children.

A small swale with a bridge.  Little touches like this were delightful.

A small swale with a bridge. Little touches like this were delightful.  You can see three variations to the path in this photo.

The Fairy Circle.  This is a whimsical place for children to sit & play, while in full view of adults at the church entrance.

The Fairy Circle. This is a whimsical place for children to sit & play, while in full view of adults at the church entrance.

 

On sick leave – anticipated date of return Monday 2nd March.

Here is a photo of an Eastern Great Egret that caught a fish in the Cooks River recently.

The Gull was extremely jealous.

The Gull was extremely jealous.

Probably the first tree chair in Marrickville LGA.

Probably the first tree chair in Marrickville LGA.

Tucked away on the west side of the car park at the Addison Road Centre in Marrickville is a great example of retaining a part of a tree that needed to be removed, so that it lives on with another purpose, as well as continuing to benefit the environment.

The tree, that was a gorgeous mature Eucalypt, had decay at its base, probably caused by mechanical damage years ago.  When I originally saw the decay, I knew the tree would go, so was not surprised when I saw that it had been removed.  What did surprise me is what Addison Road Centre did with the tree.

The stump has been carved into a seat to take in the view of the beautiful trees, rather than face the car park.  I reckon this seat will be used often, especially during the weekly markets.  Also, the branches have been placed on the grass to form a border to the car park.

Adding wood to the environment is enormously beneficial.  The NSW Department of the Environment’s Scientific Committee, established by the Threatened Species Conservation Act, has listed removal of dead wood & dead trees as a ‘Key Threatening Process’ to the Australian environment.

In brief, the Scientific Committee has found that –

  • Removal of standing dead trees & woody debris on the ground caused by human activity is contributing to loss of biological diversity. This includes mulching wood & removing this from forests.  I think it would be fair to say a similar impact would happen in urban areas.
  • Local councils & other agencies also “tidy up” by removing dead wood & dead trees from their reserves & from along roadsides.”
  • Fallen or placed dead wood, as it is in this case, “provides important habitat for a suite of invertebrate species dependent on decaying wood for their survival. ……. Microbial organisms & fungi are also important in the breakdown of timber & recycling of nutrients back into the soil. Invertebrates can also feed on, or in wood-decomposing fungi.”

There is a push for local councils & the community to undergo a cultural change in their expectations for parks & other spaces to be tidy places.  This is because the tidiness actually removes habitat & food for a whole range of animals, birds, microorganisms, lichens, moss & fungi.

“The traditional urban green space is dominated by overly manicured garden-style spaces that do not necessarily benefit wildlife.  We should re-think this concept & get a bit messier in our parks by retaining some of the resources that are commonly frowned upon.” ~ Darren Le Roux – ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions.

Decaying wood also plays a role in carbon storage. The decay process transfers some of the carbon stored in the tree, back into the soil, instead of into the atmosphere, where we don’t want it.

I have read the following statement many times, “There is more life in a dead tree than a living one.”   It stands to reason that we need to keep as many dead trees in our environment as possible.   If, as in the case of this tree, it is not safe to keep the actual tree, then retaining both the trunk & the branches onsite, will do much to help the ecosystem & biodiversity in this area.

Well done Addison Road Centre. The chair is fun & a little bit quirky.  It’s great to see trees used in this way, rather than put through the mulching machine.   Plus this tree will go on benefiting the environment by supporting biodiversity for a few years to come & this is really good.  It sets a good example to us all.

Branches used to make the car park.

Branches used to edge the car park.

 

My first ever sighting of a Tawny Frogmouth & what a beauty he is.

My first ever sighting of a Tawny Frogmouth & what a beauty he is.

The initial inspection - was I friend or foe?

The initial inspection – was I friend or foe?

Celebrate with me for this evening I saw my first Tawny Frogmouth – a bird I have been seeking for a couple of decades at least.

The Tawny Frogmouth (Podargus strigoides) is a master of camouflage & has an amazing ability to blend itself into its surroundings, which is why they are often hard to find.  Their feathers are silver-grey & streaked with black allowing them to look like a branch of a tree.  If they feel threatened they can stay as still as a branch as well.

Tawny Frogmouths are not owls & more closely related to the nightjars. Unlike owls, they do not have talons.  They have a short wide bill, which is probably where the “frogmouth” name originates.

They are nocturnal birds, sleeping during the day & active at night, mainly in the hours just after dusk & before dawn when they hunt for their food.  They are insect eaters enjoying spiders, slugs, beetles, cockroaches, snails & centipedes, which they catch with their beak.  Bogong Moths are a favourite. Although they are primarily insectivorous, they do on occasions eat small rodents & reptiles.

They are susceptible to pesticide poisoning as a result of people treating ‘pests’ around their home & in the environment.

Tawny Frogmouths mate for life.   Both male & female birds share everything to do with nest building, incubating & rearing their chicks.  They usually nest in the same tree year after year.  When they are breeding both males & females drum at night at the nest site.  This I would love to hear.

There are three types of Tawny Frogmouth in Australia.  Their territory ranges from 20-80 hectares. Their song is a soft continuous “oom-oom-oom-oom-oom-oom” sound.

This is the Tawny Frogmouth I saw this evening.  He was super alert when he first noticed my interest in him, but once he realized I was not a threat, he closed his eyes.  I think it is wonderful to have such a bird in the Inner West.  Their presence is a great case for less pesticide use.

I think he got interested.

I think he got interested.

He looks like a painting, except for the crystal clear eyes.

He looks like a painting, except for the crystal clear eyes.

I couldn't choose, so decided to post both photos for the wonderful expression in his eyes.

I couldn’t choose, so decided to post both photos for the wonderful expression in his eyes.

Lastly, he was kind enough to do a side-on pose.

Lastly, he was kind enough to pose side-on.  

Flying foxes start to flyout from their camp in Wolli Creek.

Flying foxes start to flyout from their camp in Wolli Creek.

March is ‘Australasian Bat Month’ & there is a ‘Social Bat Watch’ event on the evening of Friday 6th March 2015 in Turrella Reserve. The event is supported by the Wolli Creek Preservation Society, City of Canterbury Council, Rockdale City Council, Transport Sydney Trains & the NSW Office of Environment & Heritage.

Bring a picnic dinner, rug or chair & insect repellent (for the mosquitoes) & watch thousands of grey-headed flying foxes stream out of their Turrella camp.

I have done this a few times & it is a glorious experience. A few bats start flying & within minutes, the camp starts to leave to go hunting for food.  Bats fly in a few directions & thousands fly over Turrella Reserve. You get a good view of them.

It’s wonderful to watch. I really was awestruck the first time I witnessed this & wondered why I had this on my ‘to-do’ list for so long without actually doing it.

We are so lucky to have such nature close to us. Flying foxes are extremely beneficial to the environment & without them, our forests would be in real trouble.

There will be ‘Batty Craft’ for young & old & the opportunity to learn about flying foxes.

WHERE: Turrella Reserve beside Wolli creek.  Enter via Henderson Street Turrella or Finlays Avenue Earlwood.  Please note that there are no toilets at Turrella Reserve.

WHEN: Friday 6th March 2015.

TIME: 6.30pm – 8.30pm.

Bring your camera too.  You will be wanting to take photographs of this awe-inspiring event.

For more information email bats@wollicreek.org.au

Part of the canopy of this Deciduous fig tree.  I think it is glorious.

Part of the canopy of this Deciduous fig tree. I think it is glorious.

Marrickville Council has, for the first time as far as I am aware, used cables & braces to stabilize a tree, rather than chop it down.

Showing the stainless steel bolt of the cabling system.

Showing the stainless steel bolt of the cabling system.

The tree is a 100-year-plus Deciduous fig (Ficus superba var henneana) that lives in the lovely Camperdown Park. It is a magnificent tree & totally worth the money & effort that has been put into retaining it.  I applaud Marrickville Council for taking this management approach.

Council’s sign below the tree says it is one of only a handful known to exist in Sydney.  

The tree has a visible crack in the base of the trunk. The trunk has been braced & has a measuring gauge that I assume will allow Council to monitor the crack to see if it is growing wider. The brace will fortify the stem & should prevent further splitting.

Showing the split in the trunk & the device that will  monitor any further splitting.

Showing the split in the trunk & the device that will monitor any further splitting.  Let’s hope the vandals leave it alone.

A number of stainless steel cables have been drilled through some larger branches & fixed with stainless steel bolts. These cables alleviate stress by supporting the heavy branches, especially during high winds.

The following is a 3-minute video explaining cabling & bracing, which is a common management intervention to save risky trees. The only difference is that with this tree, Council drilled right through the branches & attached with a stainless steel bolt, but the principles are the same.   See – http://bit.ly/1Dgl0q7

One view of the magnificent Deciduous fig tree in Camperdown Oval

One view of the magnificent Deciduous fig tree in Camperdown Oval

Another view.

Another view of this very special tree.

A number of branches have been removed to reduce the weight of the canopy & cables have been attached to branches to relieve stress on the tree.

A number of branches have been removed to reduce the weight of the canopy & cables have been attached to branches to relieve stress on the tree.

The new Murdoch Park in Illawara Road Marrickville

The new Murdoch Park in Illawara Road Marrickville

In 28th June 2014 Murdoch Park, until recently known as Murdoch Playground, a pocket park on Illawarra Road Marrickville was reopened after Marrickville Council completed Stage One of a two-stage upgrade. Recently we went to have a look.

The high cost of Council works always surprises me. This upgrade cost $50,000, which to me seems a lot of money. What has been achieved is nice though.  I like the gate, which creates a friendly entrance. Instead of a diagonal concrete path from one gate to another the path is curved & takes one past one bench seat, to a picnic table setup & then to another bench seat.  The seating is attractive & they all match.

Gardens start from just outside the gate & continue on either side of the path inside the park.   Four trees have been planted.  This is significant for a park that was devoid of trees. Two are Banksias & one is a Jacaranda.  I cannot remember what the other tree was. We were there in the afternoon & found that the Jacaranda provided shade over the picnic table, which was appreciated as it was a hot day.

Three Australian native Snake vines (Hibbertia scandens) have been planted along the cyclone fencing alongside the stormwater canal.  These should look great once they have grown to cover the fence.

Becoming a standard in recent park upgrades across Marrickville municipality, are three lovely sandstone sculptures – one of a lizard, another of a frog & one platypus.   These have been scattered throughout the gardens. Pigface & Grevilleas have been used as groundcovers.  Other plants include native grasses & some lilies.   There is also a good quality bubbler.

Council plans to add a rain garden in Stage Two of the upgrade & have installed the necessary infrastructure for this.  Overall, I think it is a nice place to stop & have a rest or take your child to play on the grass or have lunch.  The community will use it now.  It is no longer a bleak & empty green space as it was before the upgrade. It should only get better when the plants & trees grow.  I shall look forward to Stage Two of the upgrade.

The garden is 6-months-old now.  The vines should hide the tagging on tha wall on the opposite side of the stormwater canal.

The garden is 6-months-old now. The vines should hide the tagging on tha wall on the opposite side of the stormwater canal.

The gate is lovely.

The gate is lovely.

Part of a display wall at Rockdale Community Nursery.  You can see how the Australian native violets cascade eventually hiding the pots.  I thought it lovely.

Part of a display wall at Rockdale Community Nursery. You can see how the Australian native violets cascade eventually hiding the pots. I thought it lovely.

I saw this wonderful idea at Rockdale Community Nursery last week & thought it was an attractive & relatively cheap way to establish a green wall on a house or apartment balcony.

Two Australian native plants are very suitable to achieve this look.

  1. If the area is shady, then the Australian native violet (Viola banksii) is a perfect choice.  It is quite hardy & will cascade out of a hanging basket.  All you need to do is keep the soil moist. The Australian native violet produces attractive 150-mm high purple & white flowers throughout the warmer months & spot flowers throughout the year.
  1. If your balcony space is hot & sunny, then Kidney weed (Dichondra repens) may be a better choice as it tolerates full sunlight to 80% shade, but you still need to keep the soil moist.   Kidney weed produces small white flowers throughout the year. If your balcony is a hot space, a green wall will reflect heat & cool the area for you.
A side view showing the pots.  These plants do not need a lot of soil to grow well.

A side view showing the pots. These plants do not need a lot of soil to grow well.

If potted, both plants respond well to a slow release native fertilizer in early spring.

Both plants are often recommended to use instead of lawn, as they will tolerate some foot traffic & can be mown occasionally to make them thicken up.

Use Australian native violets in shady areas of the garden & Kidney weed elsewhere. They are also good plant choices for the spaces between pavers.

Propagation is easy, as both plants spread by putting out stems, which take root & establish a new plant.   A single plant can spread to cover a large area given time & the right growing conditions.

If the plant becomes too long for your liking in a green wall or hanging basket arrangement, snipping off the length will not hurt the plant & will also provide you with more plants to establish somewhere else.

With balcony spaces often being quite small, both are a great low maintenance option to add green & make the space attractive.

A small section of a very interesting & productive front garden in Marrickville.

A small section of a very interesting & productive front garden in Marrickville.  Food is growing everywhere. 

Popular television show Gardening Australia has released the ‘ABC Vegie Guide’ app. The app provides information & tips on growing all sorts of vegetables, when to harvest, how to manage garden pests, controlling disease & when it the best time of the year to plant. It comes with a number of factsheets.

The app covers all climate zones & shows how many days before your plants are ready to harvest. When the time comes, the app will send you a prompt telling you that it is time to harvest. The app also allows you to keep notes & add photos.

Growing vegetables is booming across Marrickville municipality, so an app like this can be very useful. Add that it is free to download & you have nothing to lose.

You can download the app here – https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/abc-vegie-guide/id600755873?mt=8#

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