Male Red-rumped parrot - not too often I get a good shot of that red rump.

Male Red-rumped parrot – not too often I get a good shot of that red rump.

The following comes from an interesting article by Dr David Suzuki, well-known Canadian academic & environmentalist.

The article discusses how being in nature is calming & healing to humans.  Living in an urban environment is actually not good for us & is causing raised stress levels & an increased risk of chronic disease.  The impact on our brain is an increased sensitivity to stress, resulting in a brain that is hyper-alert & has difficulty concentrating for long periods.  The impact on learning will be obvious.

People who live in cities have “a 21% greater risk for anxiety disorders & a 39% increased likelihood of mood disorders.”

The good news is that spending time in nature helps our brain slow down & rest.  Dr Suzuki has challenged Canadians to spend at least 30-minutes in nature every day for thirty days to allow their brains to slow down & recover.  This is something we can all do if we plan our time & are motivated.

Obviously this would be good for people who feel stressed &/or depressed, but it is also advantageous for all of us.  The trick is to go to the park & not only get busy with park activities designed to provide entertainment for us.  While these are good for us, what is more beneficial is going for a peaceful walk or bicycle ride & taking time to observe & connect with the nature around us.

Cooks River from the Illawarra Road bridge in Marrickville

Cooks River from the Illawarra Road bridge in Marrickville

It was great to watch a video about the Cooks River by Tony Burke MP, Labor Member for Watson & Shadow Minister for Environment & Water.  This short, but encouraging video was filmed yesterday.

He speaks about the history of the Cooks River & says, “The job for the local area now is to try year after year to return it into a beautiful environmental asset for our local area. To replace the concrete with real river banks & to clean up the water.”

You can watch the video called, ‘Cooks River’ here –

The river side of the new garden area.  You can see how large it is.   The shared path runs between the garden areas.

The river side of the new extended garden area. You can see how large the area is. The concrete on the left is a shared path that travels between the garden areas.

I went to Steel Park to have a look at the National Tree Day site & was pleased with what I saw.  The Inner West Council started preparing this area by removing lawn around current garden areas around 2-3 months ago.   Now the area has been enlarged into two very large garden beds, fully mulched & planted out with 8 new trees (if I remember correctly) & many small native grasses, shrubs & other plants.

The Inner West Council’s Facebook page said, “Over 80 volunteers helped plant 1,200 seedlings, plus we gave away about 300 free established trees.”  Pretty fantastic.

It looks great & will be even better once the plants have grown & filled out the area.  The beds will also help with biodiversity by providing food & habitat for wildlife.  Aside from these benefits, beauty has also been added to the park & this is something I think should always be celebrated.

Humans respond well to beauty & beautiful green spaces have been shown to have enormous benefits on the working of our brain & our overall mental & physical health.

The playing fields side of the new garden area.

The playing fields side of the new extended garden area.

The bees loved the poppies.  There were at least 100 bees enjoying the poppies.

There were at least 100 bees enjoying the poppies.

A closeup of the huge dragonfly eating a bee.  Seeing this was a first for both of us.

A closeup of the huge dragonfly eating a bee. Seeing this was a first for both of us.

We went to the markets to buy fresh fruit & vegetables today.  On the way out we stopped at the flower stall to marvel at the huge amount of bees that were enjoying the flowers, especially the Poppies.  One wonders how could so many bees know to come to collect pollen in an area surrounded by buildings.  So I googled.

Researchers from the University of Bristol found that bees can sense the electric field of a flower. See –

“As bees fly through the air, they bump into charged particles from dust to small molecules. The friction of these microscopic collisions strips electrons from the bee’s surface, and they typically end up with a positive charge.  Flowers, on the other hand, tend to have a negative charge, at least on clear days. The flowers themselves are electrically earthed, but the air around them carries a voltage of around 100 volts for every metre above the ground. The positive charge that accumulates around the flower induces a negative charge in its petals.  When the positively charged bee arrives at the negatively charged flower, sparks don’t fly but pollen does.”

I wonder if bees are like some birds & send out a scout to check an area, then race back to the hive & tell the rest of the bees.

On the way back to our car we noticed a huge dragonfly was hanging from one of our plastic shopping bags & was busy sucking the guts out of a bee.  We walked around two-hundred metres to our car, then carefully placed the bag on the ground.  Only then did the dragonfly go, leaving a dead bee behind.

Dragonflies are important predators that eat mosquitoes, and other small insects like flies, bees, ants and wasps.

Dragonflies are important predators that eat mosquitoes and other small insects like flies, bees, ants and wasps.  A single dragonfly can eat hundreds of mosquitoes a day.

You can just see the raised wooden footpath on the right of the photo.  The tree itself is magnificent.

You can just see the raised wooden footpath on the right of the photo. The tree itself is magnificent.

I was really happy to see that the Inner West Council is installing a raised wooden footpath over the tree roots of one of the significant Fig trees in Camperdown Oval.  The tree is very special, so it is wonderful that such care is being taken to protect it.

Apart from a Fig tree in O’Dea Reserve in Stanmore, that has a large area of raised decking around it, I have not seen this kind of work done around trees in parks of the old Marrickville municipality.  I think this is a first raised footpath in the area. This is an excellent move & I hope it becomes a norm.

A lot of work is being done to upgrade Camperdown Oval.  I will write about this later when the work is finished.  It’s very nice to see more trees have been planted.

The raised footpath - excellent to see such infrastructure when Council decide that a path must be placed in a certain area.

The raised footpath – excellent to see such infrastructure when Council decide that a path must be placed in a certain area.

The tree that is having its roots protected

The tree that is having its roots protected.  The path can be seen in the middle of the photo.

 I have not seen a gall  like this before.  It was as big as a softball, maybe bigger.

I have not seen a gall like this before. It was as big as a softball, maybe bigger.

I was waiting for a friend in Stanmore when a Banksia tree in someone’s front garden grabbed my attention.  It was covered in little knobbly clumps that were not seed pods.  I thought might be galls & checked with friends in the know who agreed.

Galls are formed by wasps, beetles, moths & insects who lay their eggs in plant parts.  They occur on leaves, stems, buds & roots. This is irritating to the plant who then thickens the tissue around the area, creating many interesting shapes.

These can be small lumps on leaves, great big hanging brown balls, little lumps on stems or curly lumpy things like I spotted on this Banksia.

The inside wall of the gall provides nutritious food for the developing insect & also protection from predators. Sometimes a gall holds one developing insect, sometimes it is like a mini-hotel with different rooms for several insects.

All the advice I have read has said galls are common with Australian trees, especially eucalypts & acacias.  The presence of galls does not cause problems or kill the tree.   If you want less galls, then increase the biodiversity in your garden.  The birds will take care of the insects that cause galls.

Parasitic wasps also help control galls by laying their eggs inside the gall.  Once the eggs hatch, they feed on the insect developing in the gall until they eventually kill it.  Not such a great hotel room now.  Once the wasp matures, it leaves the gall via a small hole.  Galls remain on trees after the insect has matured & left.

The bottom line is galls are part of the lifecycle of many native insects & there is no need to take action.  You could cut off the offending branch if they really bothered you.

The only time to take action is if your citrus trees are affected because citrus gall will slowly kill your tree.  Therefore, it is advised that you remove the branch that has the gall before August, when the insect is likely to leave the gall.

Galls galore!  I found this tree fascinating.

Galls galore! I found this tree fascinating.  Despite the galls, it appeared quite healthy.  



Drowning in concrete.  This was a hot place to stand.

Drowning in concrete. This was a hot place to stand.

I read a wonder blog post in Resilience called, ‘The Magic of Trees’ written by Sarah Kobos.

I can’t share it all because of copyright, so I encourage you to go & read it. See –

She writes about walking & cycling the streets & the impact of street trees; good street trees.

It is a a hot day & Sarah is riding her bicycle along lovely tree-lined streets when…..

Unfortunately, my sanguine attitude evaporated the moment I emerged from the sanctuary of a shaded neighborhood into a treeless, asphalt furnace.  No disrespect to Joan of Arc, but at least if you get burned at the stake, it’s a dry heat.  This was more like being boiled.  And then fried.  If you built a sauna inside a kiln, it would feel something like this street. The only thing worse than biking on a treeless street on a scorching hot day is walking on one.” 

“…..So when you talk about “complete streets” and “active transportation” be sure to mention the importance of canopy trees.  Because in a hot climate, if you don’t have shade, these options are moot.  Everyone with a car is going to drive.  Everyone without a car is going to suffer, or stay home.  And if you’ve never thought about street trees as a social justice issue, an afternoon spent in the summer sun walking to (and waiting for) the bus might just change your mind.”

“….Simply put, trees matter.  And I don’t mean those shrubs people stick in parking lots to fulfill the landscaping requirements of the zoning code.  I mean real trees.  The kind that line sidewalks and create canopies over the street.  The kind that turn inhospitable environments into pleasant places for people.”

This is a superb post & one that I am sure we can all relate to.

With climate change breaking all our meteorological records in Australia, we need street trees more than ever.  It is hard out there without the comfort of our car’s air-conditioning, but it is relatively easy to fix.  We just need more street trees – good street trees with a healthy canopy that shades both the footpath & the street.

We need shade trees near bus stops, outside cafes, public spaces & in shopping strips.  We need shade trees in all places where people walk, where people wait & where people like to sit.

We also need more trees in our gardens, because this will help cool the whole block & ultimately the whole suburb if there are enough trees.  With the cost of electricity having risen once again, a tree or two in the right place in our garden will have a positive impact on our power bills.

Lastly, our parks need more trees & less concrete.  We do need concrete paths so every place is accessible, but I think a number of our parks have too much concrete.

The bottom line is that if we want a cooler environment, then we need to de-pave & plant more trees.  The Sustainable Streets program is doing well in my opinion.  Every street that has more verge gardens & less concrete is cooler, more attractive & nicer to walk along.

The community benefits, the wildlife benefits & so does our collective health.  Heat kills more people than we realise & this will become more of a known issue as our city becomes hotter.  This is why the City of Sydney is increasing their urban forest by 50%.  They know that the urban heat island effect has the potential to kill.

The Inner West Council needs to allocate more in the annual budget that will allow the increase of our urban forest.   You just need to look at the suburbs of Balmain, Birchgrove, Rozelle & Annandale to see what the potential is.  These suburbs are now part of our municipality.  I am sure if the residents who live in these suburbs took the 20-minute drive to where I live they would not be in any doubt that their urban forest is far superior & this is despite their narrower streets & footpaths.

While I feel sad that Marrickville Council is no longer, I am hoping that the amalgamation will bring some equity in terms of the urban forest across the whole of the new local government area. We are entitled to expect that our urban forest too can look like it does in Balmain, Birchgrove, Rozelle & Annandale, although it will take time.


I’ve just discovered a great learning resource for anyone interested in climate change, that I think will be especially useful for teachers.

Called HIPPOCH, it explores the ‘HIPPO phenomena.’  That is habitat destruction, invasive species, pollution, population & overharvesting & breaks this information into short lessons.

At the moment there is only one short course – Climate Change.  This consists of a 5-minute video created by NASA explaining climate change.  Then individual lessons –

  1. What is global warming
  2. Climatic effects of climate change.
  3. Ecological effects of climate change &
  4. Ecosystems & climate change.

Each lesson comes with full information, easily adaptable for teachers.  There are maps, diagrams & short videos.  I read a lot about climate change, but came across information that was new to me.

Best of all, it is a free resource available to anyone over the internet.  See –

Photo Taken 15th May 2016.  Not only bottles and other litter, but look at the oil.

Photo Taken 15th May 2016. Not only bottles and other litter, but look at the oil.

How fantastic!  A two-day ‘Litter Congress’ all about the massive problem of littering in Australia presented by Keep NSW Beautiful.

Over 30 experts from across the country will appear at the conference “focusing on the best & newest litter reduction techniques, campaigns, & methodologies.”  YES!

Topics include –

  • Roadside litter
  • Engagement & awareness techniques
  • LIttering behaviour studies
  • Litter audit methodologies
  • Community education
  • Eradicating litter at beaches & in waterways
  • Plastic bags, plastic bottles, & other problem items
  • The upcoming NSW Container Deposit Scheme
  • Litter reduction in schools”

“People are much less likely to litter in clean areas & littered places keep attracting more litter.”

WHEN:          Wednesday 31 August – Thursday 1 September 2016.

WHERE:        WatervieW in Bicentennial Park, Sydney Olympic Park.

Litter at Steel Park Marrickville.

Litter at Steel Park Marrickville.

dirtgirl talking to a group of children about biodiversity & the need for trees.

dirtgirl talking to a group of children about biodiversity & the need for trees.

Many Marrickville LGA locals are used to heading up to Sydney Park on National Tree Day, but this year the City of Sydney & Planet Ark are holding their event at Jubilee Park Glebe.

There are 2,000 native seedlings to be planted & the event will go ahead even if it is raining.

WHERE:        Jubilee Park Glebe, access via Northcote Road.  The site can also be accessed from the Jubilee Park light rail stop.  They ask that you register in arrival.

WHEN:          Sunday 31st July 2016.

TIME:             10am to 1pm.

BRING:          Wear suitable clothing.

PROVIDED: Gloves, tools, equipment for planting, watering cans / buckets, drinking water, snacks, refreshments & a barbeque.




  • Special appearances & photo opportunities with children’s TV sensation, dirtgirl.
  • Kids activities – native animals, nature crafts, face painting & kids yoga.
  • Take-away plantable ice-cream cone.
  • Sausage sizzle or vegie pattie for participants.
  • Have a slice of our 21st birthday cake.
  • Edible garden patch.
  • Urban Ecology & City Farm information.
  • Indigenous performance artists the ‘Yamma Boys.’
  • Plus, there will ice cream & coffee available to purchase from Serendipity Ice Cream Van & the Nomadic Coffee Trike.

There will be three National Tree Day events across the Inner West LGA at Marrickville, Lilyfield & Ashfield/Haberfield.  For more information see –

For further information & other National Tree Day sites across Sydney & NSW see –

click here to follow Saving Our Trees on Twitter



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