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This garden has already been planted out & has a new street tree as well.  It looks terrific.

This garden has already been planted out & has a new street tree as well. It looks terrific.

The corner of Moncur & Moyes Streets Marrickville has looked good for a number of years because of the many white bollards & the traffic islands on both corners that are filled with Star Jasmine.  This little bit of green has made quite a difference to the streetscape in this area.

As part of their Sustainable Streets program Marrickville Council has created 27 new verge gardens along both sides of Moncur Street after being requested to do this by residents.   The project was completed in April 2013.

According to a Marrickville Council media release, 26 households collaborated with Council for more than 8-months to design & organise the verge gardens.

36 tonnes of concrete was removed creating 150-square-metres for verge gardens.  The residents will be responsible for the ongoing maintenance of the verge gardens.

The impact on the streetscape is immediately evident.  In my opinion it is a vast improvement.  It’s just a shame the whole street wasn’t done, as there are significant gaps with no verge gardens.

I am looking forward to see what the residents do with the new verge gardens. For a long time now there has been at least one very attractive verge garden, so if this is any indication, Moncur Street will be looking significantly greener in the coming months.

I think this tree is very special & am glad it was saved.  It will love its new living arrangements.

I think this tree is very special & am glad it was saved. It will love its new living arrangements.

While depaving lowers the urban heat island effect, verge gardens also collect stormwater & help water street trees. Moncur Street is fortunate to have a number of nice street trees so these will benefit from better living conditions.

Council’s media release said this is a well-connected community already so the verge gardens will continue to build on these relationships between neighbours.   Recent research has shown that a well-tended street with people out the front gardening significantly lowers the risk of crime.

The verge gardens will help children learn as well as cultivate a happier community. Green environments have been shown to elevate people’s mood & create happiness with gardening long known to improve physical & mental health.  Whether the residents grow vegetables, herbs, natives or flowers, any greenery will help urban wildlife & bring more biodiversity into the street.  Lastly, there is the issue of raised property values because the streetscape is very important to 99% of people when buying property.

All these are incredibly positive outcomes from the establishment of verge gardens & this is something we should all consider doing.  Filling the verge garden need not be expensive with tubestock available for between $2-$3 & by propagating plants & sharing of cuttings between neighbours.  Hopefully Council’s $2 million mowing bill will soon be a thing of the past with all of us all wondering how we lived with so much ugly concrete.

Well done & thank you to the residents of Moncur Street & Marrickville Council.  I believe that the whole community benefits from verge gardens.  Any concrete removed increases beauty & biodiversity.  A huge number of people ride or walk the streets as part of their recreation, so a nice street adds to our enjoyment & happiness.

As you can see, some of the verge gardens are different sizes.

As you can see, some of the verge gardens are different sizes. 

It's a shame that this tree wasn't released from its bondage.

It’s a shame that this tree wasn’t released from its bondage.  

Verge gardens were not created along all of the street.

Verge gardens were not created along all of the street.

I think the new verge gardens make a massive & very positive addition to the streetscape.

I think the new verge gardens make a massive & very positive addition to the streetscape.  The uniformity of gardens along this stretch appeals to me & the street trees will benefit from this work.  Imagine how they will look when more plants are added & they have grown.  

 

 

 

 

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Chickens are perfect for a permaculture garden.  These lovely hens provide eggs , eat scraps, clean up weeds, as well as keeping garden pests in control.  They also provide manure.

Chickens are perfect for a permaculture garden. These lovely hens provide eggs , eat scraps, clean up weeds, produce manure & keep garden pests in control. They are nice pets as well.

With the huge increase in interest in sustainability, verge gardens, community gardens & permaculture, I am sure there are many who would be interested in an online resource such as this.

‘Introduction to Permaculture’ is 38 video lectures – a total of 40-hours – available online to download for free from Permaculture Media Download.  Each video stands alone, so you can learn at your own pace.  There are other resources such as free e-books here as well.

You can find the links to each video here – http://bit.ly/13vLeQf

Showing the corner of the Bushpocket in Victoria Road where the cycleway is to be built.  You can get some idea of the width of the current cycle lanes.

Showing the corner of the Bushpocket in Victoria Road where the cycleway is to be built. You can get some idea of the width of the current cycle lanes.  Ausgrid will need to relocate the telegraph pole.

Yesterday (24th April) I attended the public meeting held by Marrickville Council to discuss their recent works that demolished the bio-swale at the Victoria Road Bushpocket site in Marrickville.

To recap: on 21st March 2013 I saw heavy machinery removing the boulders that made up the swale.  On 28th March 2013 I posted about the swale, which was gone leaving bare dirt, a telegraph pole in the new road section & sprayed markings that looked like a path.  I heard that the Council works were to create a cycleway.  See – http://bit.ly/XDgLlz

Several senior Council staff attended the meeting.  It was explained that Council had made a mistake & there had been poor communication between departments regarding the swale at the Bushpocket site & the building of a cycleway.  Council apologized unreservedly for this, saying they would work to improve communication across departments.

It was explained that the cycleway works in this location are part of the Camperdown to Cooks River Cycle Route. Specifically, the road was widened here to assist heavy vehicles to navigate the corner.

Where previously cyclists used the lane either side of Victoria Road, the new cycleway will instead put cyclists in one lane as a separated two-direction kerbed barrier cycleway located on the roadside next to the Bushpocket.  The width of the two-way cycleway will be 2.52 metres.  To claim roadway for the cycleway, the swale was demolished.

Marrickville Council said they intend to replace the swale & handed out plans dated April 2013.  Council were unsure of the costs to do this work.

There was concern from one of the residents who specializes in bio-swales that the plans for the swale would not work as the space was insufficient.  Council invited this resident to participate in further planning of the swale.

Council also emailed the residents the plans for the cycleway in this section of Victoria Road & Myrtle Street.  We were told that side from bringing cyclists from both directions onto the same side of the road, the cycleway will direct cyclists to cross to the other side of the road in Myrtle Street.   This explains the path to nowhere & appears to save the street trees on the eastern side of Myrtle Street.  However, this direction to cross the road in Myrtle Street is not on the plans.  See below.

You can download the plans for the cycleway here, though be warned, I found it impossible to read the writing on the plans on my computer or on a printed copy.  The cycleway route however is easily seen. – – http://bit.ly/ZmsG7b

The plans for the swale can be downloaded here – http://bit.ly/11muRpk

As a cyclist, I can’t say that I felt I needed protection in this section of Victoria Road. Both kerbside lanes used by cyclists were around the width of a normal traffic lane & it was rare to see a parked car so it was a roomy ride for me.  It was explained that all that has been lost was the mound of earth on the roadside of the swale. That mound however, was a significant size & part of the Bushpocket where plants grew.

I thank Marrickville Council for responding to the complaint about this issue and holding the meeting.  It was obvious that they wanted the best outcome for everyone.

The bitumen area is where the swale & planted area around the swale used to be.  Cyclists will soon have a dual cycleway here that goes onto the footpath under the bridge.

The bitumen area is reclaimed land from the Bushpocket. Cyclists will soon have a dual cycleway here that goes onto the footpath under the bridge.

The bitumen shows where the swale & surrounding plants used to be.  The dirt area is where the new swale is to be constructed.

The bitumen shows where the swale & surrounding plants used to be. The dirt area is where the new swale is to be constructed.

Marrickville Council's plans for the cycleway in Victoria Road & Myrtle Street Marrickville with my additions in colour. We were told that the 2-way cycleway would actually cross the road in Myrtle Street, but this does not show on these plans.  Click to enlarge.

Marrickville Council’s plans for the cycleway in Victoria Road & Myrtle Street Marrickville with my additions in colour. We were told that the 2-way cycleway would actually cross the road in Myrtle Street, but this does not show on these plans. Click to enlarge.

 

 

Showing the current stage of work.  The bitumen area, which was once a bioswale is now to be a bike path.

Showing the current stage of work. The bitumen area, which was once a bioswale is now to be a bike path.  The photo shows about half the area.

Marrickville Council is holding a meeting regarding the bioswale at the Bushpocket site on Victoria Road Marrickville.   Anyone who is interested is invited to attend.

  • Wednesday 24th April 2013 at 8am. Meet at the site.   Map below.

I last wrote about the swale here – http://bit.ly/XDgLlz

The red arrow shows the location of the Bushpocket & the meeting.

The red arrow shows the location of the meeting.

This is the Victoria Road Marrickville swale just after it was created in December 2009.  Once the plants grew it changed considerably.

This is the Victoria Road Marrickville swale just after it was created in December 2009. Once the plants grew it changed considerably.

This is how the Victoria Road Bushpocket swale looked like late in the day on the 21st March 2013.

This is how the Victoria Road Bushpocket swale looked like late in the day on the 21st March 2013.

On 21st March 2013 I drove down Victoria Road Marrickville & saw earth-moving equipment with Marrickville Council workers digging up the swale on the bushpocket site.  I returned at the end of the day specifically to have a close look.  The swale had been totally removed & what was left in its place was a large hole, a flattened area that looked suspiciously like a footpath & paint markings on the dirt also looking like the outline of a footpath.

As Marrickville Council have recently built what I call ‘a footpath to nowhere’ under the railway bridge & around the curve of Victoria Road to Myrtle Street, I assumed the swale was destroyed for an extension of this footpath.

The ‘footpath to nowhere’ ends in Myrtle Street where street trees start.  To continue the footpath three good-sized street trees planted around 8 to 10-years-ago will probably need to be removed.  That is unless Council make the footpath thinner in this area, but I doubt they will because the rest of it is wide & they tend to like wide paths.

There is a footpath on the opposite side of both Victoria Road & Myrtle Street so pedestrians are okay.  There has never been a footpath on the other side of this section of Victoria Road that I am aware of.  The area is located beside the goods line & coupled with the hill, made an excellent site for a swale & a bushpocket.  There are also 3-4 large mature trees here that screen the railway line.

The swale is a major part of the Victoria Road Bushpocket site.  It was built by Marrickville Council in 2009 as part of a community environmental initiative led by local resident Micheal Easton & supported by other local residents.  The residents met regularly to plant, weed & clean the bushpocket site. Together they transformed it from a relatively empty, verging on an unsightly litter-attracting patch of land to something that was green, functional & quite lovely.

Council even installed a park bench placed under the shade of a tree.  The pathways were loose gravel & it was nice to walk here & have a look to see what was in flower at the time.  In March 2011, the project was handed back to Marrickville Council who said they would continue to manage the bushpocket.

Apparently the swale has been destroyed to accommodate a bicycle path.  As a cyclist, I think a bike paths are very important & much needed.  I question however, with this section of Victoria Road being so wide & already a Council designated on-road cycle route, why Council would need to destroy a swale that was part of local stormwater management & important for biodiversity.  The swale was built in this location to capture & clean stormwater before it entered the Cooks River, less than a kilometer away.

Something else to consider is that the bushpocket was thriving & great for biodiversity & habitat creation.  Now we will have yet more concrete.

If it costs Council $1,000 to plant a sapling, imagine how much the Bushpocket & swale cost to create & manage & how much it cost to remove it.

Will this area be concreted?

Will this area be concreted?  

Showing Myrtle Street, the new footpath & the curve of the road going under the railway line.

Showing Myrtle Street, the new footpath that stops because trees are in the way.  The outside lanes are marked with bicycle symbols.

 

 

 

 

 

Free workshop on converting grass to a verge garden happening at Marrickville Library.  Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

I was stunned when I first saw the size of this verge garden in Greenbank Street. You can see the original verge garden on the far left.

I was stunned when I first saw the size of this verge garden in Greenbank Street. You can see the original verge garden on the far left.  What a difference a verge garden makes.  It softens the streetscape & adds beauty.

I was taken to see another verge garden in Greenbank Street Marrickville recently.  It appears to have been organized by two houses, but it may be that the one house organized it & the other house didn’t mind their neighbour making improvements in front of their place.

Whatever the details, this verge is really special & shows just what can be done.  They have obviously paid for Marrickville Council to remove the concrete. Three verge gardens have been created – two of around 5-metres each long & another of around 2.5-metres & they span two adjoining properties.  Concrete has been left roadside for car doors & there is a path between each garden for pedestrians.

Verge garden close-up

Verge garden close-up

The garden beds have been planted with a mix of natives & ornamentals & covered with mulch.  Except for the occasional weeding, it looks like that these verge gardens will pretty much look after themselves.

Around the corner in a nameless lane (at least on Google maps), the residents have planted a row of Lilly Pillies in the small space between the house & the kerb & covered the visible soil with mulch.  These places traditionally look not so good as they collect weeds & litter, but these residents have demonstrated that such a difficult place can look very attractive.  Lilly Pillies can be pruned to form a hedge & I expect this is what is planned.   The Lilly Pillies have the added benefit of preventing graffiti tags on what is a vulnerable wall because of its location.

Lilly Pillies adding greenery in a difficult space in the laneway.  This looks great now & will look even better once they have grown.

Lilly Pillies adding greenery in a difficult space in the laneway. This looks great now & will look even better once they have grown.

Further down the land is the entrance to another property, which is bordered by small native trees & the back fence is covered with a vine.

The residents on one side of Greenbank Street have planted around almost every street tree & it looks nice.  It’s when you come to the larger verge gardens & the lane way that you see the potential many of us have to radically improve our streetscape.

It doesn’t have to be prohibitively expensive either.  If you can encourage a good number of residents in a street to embrace verge gardens & become a Sustainable Street, you can apply to Council to come & depave for you as happened in Lincoln Street recently. See –  http://bit.ly/YpZmrH  Council might even throw in some plants.

If it’s just you, then there is a cost involved for Council to depave, but they do all the work like check for hidden infrastructure & take away the concrete, which saves you effort & skip fees.

Very cheap plants suitable for verge gardens can be sourced at Marrickville Council Nursery – native tube stock only – http://bit.ly/ZhY4kS

Randwick City Council Nursery – established plants – both native & non-native – http://bit.ly/SnKwUo

& Rockdale Council Nursery – established plants – both native & non-native –  http://bit.ly/SVe4ai

If you find yourself near Greenbank Street, I think it’s worthwhile to stop & have a look at these verge gardens as well as a look in the laneway.  I say this because good gardens & less hard surfaces changes the way an area feels & it is good to feel this whenever you can.  You may not like some of the plants, but that’s the beauty of a verge garden – as long as it doesn’t become as hazard to cars or pedestrians, you can plant what you like.  I think they have done something wonderful & inspiring.

This view shows the concrete left on the side of the kerb.   Imagine streets that looked green like this instead of harsh concrete expanses.

This view shows the concrete strip beside the kerb. Imagine streets that looked green like this, instead of harsh concrete expanses.

The laneway is transformed on this side & clearly shows how even suh difficult sites can be made beautiful as well as useful for wildlife.

The laneway is transformed on this side & clearly shows how even such difficult sites can be made beautiful, as well as useful for wildlife.

 

I saw the new verge garden a week ago.  It is impressively long while still giving plenty of room for pedestrians.

I saw the work on the new verge garden a week ago. It is impressively long while still giving plenty of room for pedestrians.

I was told I must go to see recent Council works on Grove Street Marrickville.  When I got there I could understand my friend’s enthusiasm.    People do get enthusiastic about verge gardens in this municipality.  To me it demonstrates that the acceptance of concrete is waning.

Marrickville Council have removed & replaced the concrete in front of two houses in Grove Street.  I presume the roots of the street tree had damaged the concrete footpath.  So instead of resurfacing the whole area with concrete, Council went all out & left a much bigger than usual space for a verge garden.

The residents had previously planted flowers around the street tree, so I imagine they will add more to whatever Council plants.  This will further improve the streetscape & add value to the properties close to it.  I hope that whenever Marrickville Council gets a chance, they will make larger verge gardens like this one.  It is better for the trees, better for stormwater management & it also adds beauty while still allowing people, prams & wheelchairs to travel safely.

While smaller roots were chopped, Council took great care around this root when building the kerb.

Council took great care around this root when building the kerb.

This is how the new verge garden looked today.  I imagine this will be quite beautiful once it is full of plants.

This is how the new verge garden looked today. I imagine this will be quite beautiful once it is full of plants.

 

golden-flower-photo-by-Saving-Our-Trees

Early November 2012 I posted about a small verge garden in Waverley that had been given an eviction order by Waverley Council.  See – http://bit.ly/QlTNfX

Five years ago Nicolette Boaz planted a verge garden on her adjoining neighbour’s side nature strip on Simpson Street Waverley.  According to the interview in the Wentworth Courier, she said the verge, “wasn’t being used & resembled a sandy wasteland.”

Unfortunately I forgot to post a link to the newspaper article that had a photo of the verge garden until later after this was brought to my attention.  So here it is – http://bit.ly/SUeCh0   It is worth having a look as a picture tells more than words can.

Today Nicolette Boaz the creator of the verge garden left a comment on SoT.  She wrote, The Council has since hurriedly backed down- muttering’ er- review of verge gardens – um — is in order. They were stunned by the outcry which appears to have gone international. Not bad for a tiny little footpath garden.  Well done for noticing everyone!”

I love a good news story.  Well done Waverley Council for recognizing that our city needs as many well kept verge gardens as we can have to lower the urban heat island effect & add beauty to our streetscapes.  That Ms Boaz grows food that she generously shares with the community is an added benefit.  Congratulations to Ms Boaz for choosing to fight the eviction.

These verge gardens must have been created by Marrickville Coucil as they continue the length of this Marrickville street.  It looks great & feel even better to be amongst greenery as you walk along the street.

These verge gardens must have been created by Marrickville Council as they continue the length of this Marrickville street.  The streetscape looks great & it feels even better to be amongst greenery as you walk along the street.

FIVE YEARS AGO Nicolette Boaz planted a verge garden on her adjoining neighbour’s side nature strip on Simpson Street Waverley.  According to the interview in the Wentworth Courier, she said the verge, “wasn’t being used & resembled a “sandy wasteland.”

So she planted veggies & herbs & allowed anyone to take what they wanted.  As what tends to happen with verge gardens, people came & told her how great the garden looked – because verge gardens improve the streetscape.

Two weeks ago Ms Boaz received an order from Waverley Council to remove the verge garden because she did not get approval.

“The neighbour must give consent.  In this case, the neighbour has complained & brought the matter to council’s attention requesting removal of the garden.”

This is a wide verge with a small garden planted.  The garden has been here for 5-years.  It brings beauty to the street.  It doesn’t appear to obstruct anyone’s use of the land, including the person who complained.

Obviously, if people started planting trees in front of other people’s homes without permission it may be a problem.  Same if they decided to hold a garage sale on someone else’s verge it may be a problem.  But a small veggie patch & to insist that it be removed?  I find this very sad.

Ms Boaz was doing something that was beneficial to the community on public land & the community was responding positively.  What hope do we have for the future with this idea that the area outside one’s land is also theirs to do with what they wish, even if it is to leave it as a sandy wasteland?

“Ms Boaz said it was important to keep community gardens. “(It’s) not just for me … It represents a way that I think we’ll all have to head towards, otherwise we’ll be in crisis.”  

To read the article & see a photo of the verge garden – http://bit.ly/SUeCh0

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