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National Tree Day site in Steel Park Marrickville South. All that is wood chip is the new area that was planted today. It joins last year’s site to create a continuous corridor along the river in this area.

This afternoon we went down to Steel Park Marrickville South to have a look at Inner West Council’s National Tree Day site.  I had looked at the site earlier & noticed just how big the area to be planted is in comparison to previous years.  Inner West Council decided to convert a significant area into habitat for wildlife at this location &  I think this is excellent.

Three new trees were planted –

  • Two Swamp mahoganies (Eucalyptus robusta), an Australian native that can reach up to 30-metres in height. It can live for at least 200-years.  I find exciting to have such long-lived trees planted in a park where it has a decent opportunity to reach such an age.  Fingers crossed anyway.   It flowers well in spring & summer & offers food for birds & other nectar-eating wildlife.  Christmas beetles like to eat the leaves, so hopefully we will see some of these at Steel Park.
  • One Prickly-leaved paperbark (Melaleuca styphelioides) – also an Australian native. This is a medium-sized tree that reaches between 5-11 metres in height.   It has a dense, rounded canopy with drooping branchlets & produces cream or white cylindrical bottlebrush-like flowers in summer.  It likes to grow along stream banks or other moist situations, so good for this location.

Everyone who planted today have done the whole community a service & I thank them.   It is excellent to see more places along the river that are for wildlife only & I personally, think that looking at bushy areas is far more interesting than great expanses of lawn.  The birds will come, which adds a further layer of enjoyment to users of the park.

A closer look. Each dark patch is where something was planted.

The 3 trees that were planted.  Swamp mahogany in the foreground, the Melaleuca in the middle and another Swamp mahogany in the background.  

The Cooks River at the Cooks River Foreshore Marrickville today.

We like to think of ourselves as being environmentally green in Marrickville, but this is going too far.  I have no idea what is causing the water to be this colour & have reported to Sydney Water, Inner West Council & local group, the Cooks River Valley Association.  Maybe it is n early stage of blue-green algae.  I don’t know, but it sure doesn’t look right.

Marrickville Golf Course

Inner West Council has given notice that they intend to remove & work on trees located in Marrickville Golf Course.

Council says it plans to do the following –

  • “Tree removal– includes the removal of several dead trees or trees present significant defects and/or structural issues.
  • The creation of habitat trees– where trees are reduced down to safe limbs and boxes and hollows are created for use by native fauna.
  • Tree pruning– to remove defective or dead branches to reduce risk.”

Council do not give the location or number of trees to be removed.  We should be told about each individual tree & why they must be removed.

Nor do they give the number & location of trees they intend to prune or those they intend to make into Habitat Trees.    Council goes on to say that –

“All trees to be removed will be replaced (and more) as part of a planting program to be developed in collaboration with Council, Marrickville Golf Course and the community.”

Again, Council does not tell the community how many new trees will be planted or what species.

This is not something I understand.  I think it is in Council’s interest to tell the community how many trees they will plant because this is positive information that makes people who care about the local environment happy.  If Council had informed the community that they planned to plant 15 new native trees for example, everyone would feel happy about it, which is good for Council.

It is called transparency.  It is their duty.  Open & full communication is the only thing that instills trust in the community for what its government does.   You can’t have words about believing in open government & consultation, but fail to inform your community.

On a positive note, I think it is wonderful that more habitat trees are being created, especially in this important biodiversity corridor along the Cooks River.   I also think it is great that more trees will be planted.  The golf course has plenty of room for more trees.

Community compost bin in Chippendale.  Photo taken 2013.

Good news for World Environment Day.   The Inner West Council is trialling community compost huts & they say they are the first council to do so in Australia.   In 2013 I posted about community compost bins that are scattered around the streets of Chippendale.  It must be huts versus bins that make Inner West Council’s initiative unique.   Whatever the reason, I think community composting is a great idea however it is delivered.

Local residents who live within walking distance to the compost huts & are signed up to participate, can drop off their compostable kitchen waste.  The huts are not for garden waste.

Each compost hut can manage the compostable waste of between 40-60 households.

Inner West Council will manage the compost & turn it once or twice a week.  When ready, the composted material will be available for use by council in local parks or by residents.

I love this initiative.  It’s simple, cheap & totally sustainable.  To have food waste go back into producing lovely rich fertile soil to be used locally is perfect.  I really hope the trial works & compost huts will become the norm for use of residents all over the municipality.  Well done Council.

A rain garden is being created just behind the picnic table.

Murdoch Park at 171 Illawarra Road Marrickville is undergoing Stage Two of an upgrade.

Stage One was completed in June 2014.  The then Marrickville Council spent $50,000 to add a path, a new gate, a picnic table, a park bench, a drinking fountain & two sandstone sculptures.   They also planted a garden, vines along the fence & four trees.  The trees were a special treat because this green space had no trees & was just a patch of grass with a diagonal path from front to the back lane.  See –  http://bit.ly/2qvwUdj

Stage two includes a raingarden, which was being created when I went past recently.  I think Inner West Council has done well to make this small green space attractive & useable for people & a source of food & habitat for wildlife.

Green space is scarce in the former Marrickville municipality, so Council ensuring that each & every space is attractive strongly benefits the community.

The chimney December 2016 before any height was removed

Work has almost finished and scaffolding is gradually being removed. The two rings below the top of the chimney can be seen in the middle of the two platforms in the scaffolding in the photo showing the chimney before any bricks were removed. If I am correct, a lot of height was removed.

Back in December 2016 I posted about Sydney Water’s plan to reduce the height of the historic sewer vent at Premier Street Marrickville South.  See –  http://bit.ly/2pXqZ5f

In that post I wrote, “From memory Sydney Water did not feel confident that the vent would survive a one in 100 year storm.”    I was incorrect.  Sydney Water did not feel the chimney would survive a one in 500-year earthquake.  That is a far more interesting reason to remove part of an important historic landmark.  Problem is, none of us will be around to check whether this was indeed necessary at all.

If I look for it, this landmark is quite visible in my day to day activities.  So, it was with great interest that I watched what appeared to be nothing happening behind the scaffolding & I had a ridiculous hope that Sydney Water had changed their mind.

Over the months I chatted with quite a few locals about the chimney & realized I was just one of many who were observing the lack of progress with the hope that it was to be left intact.  Most days I would look & feel excited that the chimney was still untouched.

It was fun while it lasted as I was again wrong.  They did indeed start removing bricks & now their work appears to be completed.

As per the notice out front of the property, the chimney has been lowered to 17.85-metres.  I’ve read the historic detail page by Sydney Water ( http://bit.ly/2hh2LuS), but I cannot find the original height of the chimney to know how exactly much height has been removed.

However, I did notice a couple of interesting points –

  • The sewer vent maintains its original function as part of the SWSOOS ventilation system. So, the lower the chimney gets, the closer the community are to the smell of sewerage.
  • In 2000 the cowl was removed from the top of the chimney. I had to google to find out what a cowl is, so for those like me, “a cowl is a usually hood-shaped covering used to increase the draft of a chimney and prevent backflow.”

The finished work doesn’t look too bad in that there is still something to see on the hill & this landmark is still visible from Petersham.  We haven’t lost out completely.   It’s a shame it has happened at all, but hopefully, if an earthquake does happen, everyone will be safe.

One of two new Sydney red gums. The shade from these two trees, once they have grown, is expected to cover “at least three-quarters of the car park.”  

This area is permeable paving, yet people can walk on it without experiencing problems or noticing a difference.

I was impressed when I read that the Inner West Council had planted two advanced size Sydney Red Gums (Angophora costata) at the Garners Avenue car park in Marrickville as part of an upgrade.

Council Administrator Mr Pearson said in Council’s Press Release, “When mature, these trees will provide canopy cover to at least three-quarters of the carpark.  So, instead of the usual unshaded bitumen and concrete which would increase the inner west’s ‘urban heat island effect,’ we are actually contributing shade, cooler ambient air temperatures, and improved urban air quality.”  

Council’s Press Release makes mention that shade not only increases amenity, but also increases “the serviceable life of the bitumen by up to 30%.”   

The trees were planted in structural vaults, which on the surface look like business as usual, but are actually purpose built to provide optimum living conditions for a tree planted in unnatural conditions.

The surface is covered by permeable paving allowing rainwater to get to the tree.  Below ground, the area for the tree to grow has been prepared by placing good-quality soil in structural cells across a large area.  The structural cells provide room for the roots to grow, but also encourages them to grow in preferred directions.

Better soil, access to water & room to spread allows the tree grow to maturity.   This technique is light years better than digging a hole in the pavement & planting a tree.  It is well worth the money Council needs to spend on this planting style.

Council’s Press Release (http://bit.ly/2qwAt49 ) made many favourable statements regarding public trees.  It appears we can expect to see a positive change in our urban forest.

“Trees usually come second to infrastructure such as footpaths, roads and car parks. But Inner West Council is determined to turn this thinking around.”

I visited the Garners Street carpark & saw the two Sydney red gums.  They look great.  The flowers from these trees will provide food for bees, butterflies & nectar-eating birds.

I was also impressed to see three new Banksias planted in a small garden area toward the back of the car park.

Two other good sized Diamond leaf pittosporum (Auranticarpa rhombifolia) growing on the other side are festooned with orange berries at present.  These are Australian native rainforest trees & their orange berries attract fruit-eating birds.

The addition of Australian native trees that can grow to a significant size is a big & positive change from the current Purple Leaf Ornamental Plum (Prunus nigra) & Evergreen ash (Fraxinus griffithii) planted at the front of the car park.

I like what Inner West Council have done here.  Give the trees a few years to grow & the difference will be noticeable.  The more Council can plant decent sized native trees in areas traditionally covered with concrete & bitumen the better.  Changes like this will have positive impacts on the livability of our area.   I thank Council for doing this work.

New planting of three Banksias and other plants.

Diamond Leaf pittosporums looking great with all those orange berries.

Garners Street car park Marrickville as it looks from the street.

 

I’ve been noticing that many of our street trees under powerlines have started to have dead parts in the canopy.

Here is another example.

Two dead street trees in Marrickville – notable because they are beside each other.   They died quickly.  

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.

 

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