Lush, beautiful landscaping with plenty of shade-producing trees are just one of the factors that make Green Bans Park an excellent small inner city park. 

Last week I needed to travel to Erskineville. While I was there I discovered Green Bans Park & what a lovely park it is.  It’s actually 2 parks, smallish spaces across the road from each other.

A bit of history – “In 1996 ownership of the land was transferred to the former South Sydney Council following a campaign by local residents, unions & Council to have the land, which had previously been earmarked for development dedicated as public open space.”

City of Sydney Council has created something quite lovely here.   Green Bans Park has many features that I think make it a great park.

HEDGES – The park perimeter along Erskineville Road not only looks great, but it also blocks out some of the traffic noise & the visual impact of the traffic.  As this is a high traffic thoroughfare, not being able to see the traffic immediately allows one to feel that they are somewhere peaceful.  Not the same for green space like Enmore Park, Marrickville Park & Wicks Park.  In all these parks & others like them with a clear sightline from road to road, I never get to feel that I am away from the traffic. I can see it, hear it & often I can smell it.

Hedges are also good for wildlife, especially insects & small birds.  If they are food-producing hedges, even the better for wildlife.  They not only block traffic, they also serve as a windbreak allowing the park to be a pleasant place on windy days.  Try Tempe Reserve if you want to experience a park where there are few windbreaks.  It can be miserable even when the sun is shining, that is, unless you like the wind as I know some do.

One final thing about hedges is that a large & long block of living green colour is good to look at & has a positive impact on our subconscious. Green is very calming, balancing, healing, relaxing, & tranquil. It represents growth, vitality, abundance, & nature. Green stimulates possibility & is very inspiring.”

To be surrounded by a green hedge has got to be better that looking through the park at traffic whizzing past & houses, shops & signs.

TREES & SHADE – I counted 65 trees in this relatively small park & as I was leaving saw others that I hadn’t noticed.  Trees were varied & tall. No 5-metre trees in this park, unless they are growing.  This provides for trees to be visible on the skyline instead of roofs, which helps green up the local area.  Many of the trees are grouped together giving the feeling of a forest. Trees are also used to very good effect to block & screen the railway line.  There are trees in the middle of the park, not just around the perimeter. The trees are useful habitat & provide food for wildlife.

One very beautiful Fig tree

There is no need for shadecloth over the children’s play area because the trees provide natural shade. This makes the environment much nicer in my opinion. Natural shade is cooler on hot days, provides a dappled effect that again is calming & allows the breeze to flow.

A Fig has been planted at a corner, that will in time, grow to become a feature tree with branches cascading over Erskinville Road, offering shade & beauty & softening the landscape.  We need this kind of addition to our municipality on as many corners as is possible to soften the landscape, add beauty & cool us down.

One big beautiful healthy Fig decades old stands as the crown jewel. The City of Sydney Council has allowed it to grow aerial roots that work to prevent heavy branches falling.  These aerial roots actually make the base of the tree wider as it literally spreads to match its growing canopy.  This makes for a beautiful & visually interesting high-impact tree & it really is the main feature of the park.  That it has survived this long on a small street is wonderful.

The Council has planned for the Fig tree’s health by rounding the kerb around its roots & importantly, not shaving them off at ground level like some Councils do to remove trip hazards.  Problem is they do this to Fig trees in parks, even if the Fig is a fair distance from the pedestrian pathway.  Above ground Fig tree roots are not only of vital importance to the health & stability of the tree, but they are of immense beauty & interest.  It is very sad to see them shaved off & looks like butchering.  The ground around the Fig tree in Green Bans Park is permeable, even that which is beyond the footpath.  This tree doesn’t have to struggle for water when it rains.

SEATING – There is lots of seating in Green Bans Park on both sides.  There are park benches, plus interesting long curved benches that promote group get-togethers & little one-person stools.  There is seating in the sun & in the shade catering to all needs.  Benches are mounted on a concrete base that is covered in old bricks. This causes them to blend in rather than the usual stark white-grey of a concrete slab that gradually becomes darker & filthy.

LANDSCAPING – I didn’t notice woodchip in this park. Instead I saw leaf litter, which made it nice to walk through the play area.  I actually like the sound of walking on leaves.   Leaf litter was also in the landscaped areas, deep enough to be able to cool the roots of the plants & prevent weed growth. It looks nicer than woodchips.

Unlike the beds of woodchip with the odd plant, as is a feature in many of our parks, Green Bans Park has significant landscaping.  An under-storey of plants is grouped & follows the line of Eucalypt trees.  Elsewhere garden beds full of plants, some flowering, follow the perimeter & serve to block sight of the railway line. Also along the railway line fence is shrubs & smaller trees. Until a train goes past you are not aware of the railway line because you can’t see it.  The garden beds look well kept & pretty.

There are a couple of largish lawn spaces where games like touch footie could be played or people could lie in the sun if they wanted to.  While I was there, everyone was sitting somewhere in the shade.

SIGNAGE – One sign that I love warns that this is Magpie nesting area so to be aware during the 6-weeks of August/September when the chicks are in the nest.  Such a small consolation for a big gain because there is nothing like Magpie song to make you feel happy.  It’s nice to see the wildlife acknowledged too.

Open space showing the hedges that block visibility to busy Erskinville Road

The park is not full of signs.  I don’t know if you have noticed that all the green spaces across Marrickville LGA have signs.  There is the sign to say the name of the park, signs to say what you can’t do in the park, signs to say this is a walk wise park, signs to say – no alcohol.  Soon there will be signs to say – no smoking.  Most of the signs are repeated in other areas or entrances to the parks.  Someone or many people are systematically going around & spraying all Marrickville Council’s signs in parks with either a tag or a squiggle – a message that I read as, ‘stuff your signs.’

Green Bans Park has a good-looking sign against a house wall with a map of the park. It provides information with a few dos & don’ts & it has Braille for the blind.  The sign also tells you that City of Sydney values your feedback & provides a 24-hour phone number that you can call if there is litter to be removed or something is broken for example.

The other signs are hand-painted tiles that are mounted into the brick fence at the main entry points.  These colourful signs are quite beautiful & they tell the history of the park.  They add art to the landscaping, rather than being an assault on the eyes.

LITTER & GRAFFITI – There is an important lesson here…. provide something that is beautiful, useful & maintained & the incidence of graffiti & littering reduces markedly. Studies have shown that people are less likely to graffiti areas that have many trees & are well maintained.  I saw 2 pieces of litter & 2 tags in the whole park.  Pity though, that the tags were on the trunk of the beautiful Fig tree.

SAFETY – Paths curve through the centre of each side of the park.  Even with hedges, garden beds & trees in the centre of the park, there is high visibility.

DOGS – There is off-leash areas for dogs to play.

I made a short video of Green Bans Park here –

This beautiful Fig tree with aerial roots makes quite a statement

Landscaping & plenty of seats, plus another section next to Erskinville Road