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I had not seen a Queensland Bottle tree, except in photos, so it was great to get up close to one.  This was not a tree I expected to see in Sydney.

A gorgeous looking tree and quite a surprise to come across.

We were out cycling through another municipality when we came across a Queensland Bottle tree (Brachychiton rupestris). It was about 4-metres tall, with a girth of around 2.5-metres.

My luck the owners were there & were very happy to discuss the tree. Apparently the previous owner of the house had planted it around 80-years ago. I was told that they worked as a Horticulturist & had an extensive plant collection in greenhouses in the back garden.

When the house was being negotiated for sale, the owner explained the significance of the Bottle tree & asked them to protect it & leave it in place. He also wanted to sell to people who would use the greenhouses for plants & look after any plants that were left in the garden. The person who bought the house & remains the owner kept these agreements being a keen gardener himself.   His son is also a keen gardener, so the tradition of growing & caring for plants on this property continues.

They said that around a decade ago, the Royal Botanical Gardens in Sydney asked to be given this tree to plant in the Gardens, but permission was declined.

I had not seen a Queensland Bottle tree, except in photos, so it was great to get up close to one. This was not a tree I expected to see in Sydney.

The Australian National Botanic Gardens website says the following about these trees –

The name of the bottle tree can be taken literally, as there is a significant amount of water stored between the inner bark and the trunk. Aboriginals historically carved holes into the soft bark to create reservoir-like structures. The seeds, roots, stems, and bark have all traditionally been a source of food for people and animals alike. Another use has been made of the fibrous inner bark to make twine or rope and even woven together to make fishing nets.” See – http://bit.ly/1OUu5vd

This brilliant cartoon was sent to me. Sorry, I don’t know who created it, so can’t give them the credit they deserve.  Click to enlarge.

A bit of fun…..This brilliant cartoon was sent to me. Sorry, I don’t know who created it, so can’t give them the credit they deserve.  Click to enlarge.

The very lovely David Street Marrickville has many fans within the community because of these trees.

The very lovely David Street Marrickville has many fans within the community because of these trees.

Queensland Brush Box (Lophostemon confertus).   This is a medium-sized evergreen Australian native tree from northern New South Wales to North Queensland.  It makes a great street tree, as it is very hardy & generally free of pests & diseases.  It is moderate to fast growing developing a single trunk & a rounded or slightly triangular-shaped canopy.  It reaches a height of between 10-25 metres depending on growing conditions with a width of between 5-15 metres.  It produces bundles of small white flowers in summer.  It also creates a small woody bell shaped capsule that drops to the ground.  Any leaf litter is slow to decompose.  Chopped up, it makes great mulch for the garden.  Apparently they are even fire-retardant trees, which isn’t a bad thing at all.

It rarely needs formative pruning, but unfortunately, Brush Box trees across Marrickville LGA, have been pruned many times over the decades, usually for powerlines & have twisted knarled branches.  The strangest shaped Brush Box I have seen are living in Petersham Park.  I have no idea why these trees were pruned.  It must have been the done thing many decades ago.

There is a row of Brush Box growing along Hercules Street in Dulwich Hill that I think are perfect.  They are lush beautiful trees that add incredible beauty to the streetscape.  That they hide the rail line is an added benefit.

We have a number of streets across Marrickville & Dulwich Hill that are lined with Brush Box trees.  I consider these streets to be quite special because of the trees.  David Street Marrickville is magnificent.  Take a stroll along this street on a hot summers afternoon & you will know what I mean. The houses are beautiful too, but it is the trees that make David Street special.  Personally, I think all the Brush Box trees along this street should be classified as significant trees.  It is likely that they were planted around 80-90 years ago as were other streets in the municipality that are lined with Brush Box trees.

The Brush Box trees of Robert Street Marrickville looked fantastic 15-years ago, but for some reason their canopies were pruned into a shadow of their former selves.  It’s a shame.  Marrickville Avenue Marrickville is lined with Brush Box trees.  Most of Canonbury Grove Dulwich Hill is wonderful though some of the trees have been over-pruned losing their beauty.

It is the same with Excelsior Parade Marrickville.  The bottom end is magnificent, but the top end looks abused.   On hot days people buy an ice-cream at the corner shop in Excelsior Parade & sit on a lounge chair outside the shop enjoying their ice-cream in the cool shade of Brush Box trees. It is definitely a lovely place to hang out for a while.

There are other streets that have Brush Box trees planted along both sides, though I can’t think of them right now.  They all have a special something, a feeling & a beauty that is unmistakable, at least for me.  I adore these trees & when they form the streetscape, I think they are the best.  I have spoken to many people who have Brush Box trees outside their home & they all love their street trees.  Only one complained about the leaf litter, but was horrified at the thought of losing the trees.

The leaves of the Brush Box make a soft & beautiful sound when the wind blows.  Their sound is not as loud as poplar trees, but is audible & very soothing.  A different kind of sound (or perhaps noise to some depending on your mood & how much sleep you have had) comes from the many species of birds that frequent these trees.

This spring/summer has been particularly busy with birds because of a super Brush Box flowering season. I’ve never seen anything like it.   Whatever mix of nectar those flowers produce it is regarded as top tucker by wildlife.  Lorikeets, White Eyes, Red Wattle Birds, Honey Eaters & many other species all vie for the first daily offering at dawn, then return through the day for more.  If you are lucky flying foxes can be seen tenderly crawling over the outer canopy stopping at each flower cluster sipping their magic juice.

Bees like Brush Box flowers too, evident by Brush Box honey, which is very popular.  Any flower that encourages & supports bees is a necessity these days with the bee decline & we really should plant with them in mind.

There is only one problem with Brush Box in the Inner West & that is space.  These trees have been traditionally planted on the road, which is one of the reasons why streets with these trees look so good, & the real estate expensive.  A canopy forms & one sees more green than a wide hot expanse of bitumen & concrete.

Fortunately Marrickville Council stated in 2012 that they do intend to plant more street trees on the road like they did many decades ago.  Sure, some parking spots will be lost, but the overall benefit will be greater.  Council will choose the appropriate streets anyway.

I would like Council to consider planting more Brush Box as street trees & as feature trees on corners or where there is room & no overhead wires for a grand tree of this size.  I’d also like Council to plant Brush Box trees in parks, especially our pocket parks that desperately need shade.

Because they are fast growing & long-lived we can have lush leafy trees adding green to the streetscape pretty quickly & sticking around for many decades.  They would have to be a good economic choice considering Council told me that street trees are only expected to have a life of 7-15 years.

Overall the Brush Box tree is a fantastic choice for urban wildlife & I don’t think it matters at all that they are not indigenous to Marrickville LGA.  Their benefits outweigh the intruder argument, though I am sure there will be people who disagree with me.   I would hope they would be open to the many benefits these tress bring, both to the community & to urban wildlife.

One last point – they don’t drop large branches, only twigs.

I think the Brush Box trees that line the railway line in Hercules Street Dulwich Hill have perfect canopies.

I think the Brush Box trees that line the railway line in Hercules Street Dulwich Hill have perfect canopies.  This is a great example of planting the right tree in the right place & it shows.

Standard Mulberry tree seen at a local nursery

Last year I received a number of emails from frantic mothers trying to source Mulberry leaves to feed their distressed children’s silk worms.

As the Mulberry tree is classified as a weed tree in Marrickville LGA, all trees in public spaces are removed.  This means finding a public Mulberry tree at silkworm time can be quite difficult.

Some might say that I should be encouraging people to remove these trees, but I know they are not spreading into Wolli Creek & I haven’t seen them growing along the Cooks River or causing any noticeable problem throughout Marrickville LGA.  I also have recently witnessed a heap of Mulberry saplings for sale at a local supermarket fly out the door in less than two days.  They are also available to purchase at nurseries so it looks like the Mulberry tree is loved & here to stay.

I am putting together a Mulberry tree map – so if you have a Mulberry tree & are happy to give leaves to feed little silkworms from Spring & into early summer (the whole process is only 2-months) then please send me an email at savingourtrees@gmail.com   The children & the silkworms will thank you.

You can learn about keeping silkworms here – http://bit.ly/gZwFKx

Screenshot of Randwick Council’s Tree Identification Manual showing Agonis flexuosa. A photo of the whole tree is also provided, plus lots of other information.

Randwick City Council has developed a truly wonderful 6-volume Tree Identification Manual, which is available online at no cost.  Most of the trees in the Manual are Australian natives, though there are some exotic varieties as well.

Randwick Council have divided their municipality into specific environmental areas depending on whether it is coastal, swamp, plateau, valley, dunes & included other factors such as wind, rainfall & soil to help residents choose trees & shrubs that will grow well in their particular environment.

From the Randwick Council website –

“Each species is identified by its botanical name & common name. The manual also includes details of the tree, including the origin of the species & the season in which it flowers (if appropriate). A general description & a photograph of a typical example of each tree species provide an idea of its mature dimensions & overall form, along with photographs & brief descriptions of the tree’s fruit, flowers, leaves & bark.

At the rear of the manual is a matrix of all species which includes the species name, average mature dimensions, whether it is native or exotic, evergreen or deciduous, the severity of any potential tree root damage, suitability under powerlines, fruit/leaf drop severity & estimated average lifespan.”

112 trees & shrubs are covered. This is an excellent resource for those interested in trees & shrubs.  The Manual is easy to read & understand.  The photos are very clear making identification much easier.  Even though it has been designed for the Randwick municipality, the Manual is very useful for people who live outside Randwick LGA.   I also think this is a great resource for school students.

Marrickville Council plants trees that are included in this Manual.

You can download Randwick City Council’s Tree Identification Manual here – http://bit.ly/RquEke

 

Wattle flower – this one had a delicate perfume

Today, 1st September is National Wattle Day in Australia, as well as the first day of spring.  When the Wattle starts to flower we know spring is just around the corner.

There are about 985 different Wattle (Acacia) species in Australia with around 1,380 species worldwide. It is a very useful tree & has a very long history of being used by the indigenous Australians who used all parts of the Wattle.  We only know some of the ways the Australian Aboriginals used Wattle as much of it is passed down orally & is tribal knowledge.

The following are just some of the ways the Australian Aboriginals used Wattle.

Wattle has a significant role in Bush Medicine.  Various parts of Wattle tree were used to make cough medicine & inhalations to treat colds & flu. It was made into poultices to treat headache & backache, preparations to relieve itchy skin, ointments to treat boils & wounds & as an eye wash.  Wattle was also used to treat scabies & to remove warts.  Both the bark & roots of certain Wattles were made into bandages & to make a splint for broken bones.  Wattle smoke was used rituals & for good health.

Bush medicine is a specialized skill.  There are thousands of Wattle species, & not all are used for the same thing. Some Wattle are able to be ingested, while others are toxic.     This is not something you just go to the nearest Wattle tree, pick & prepare.

Wattle seed is high in both protein & carbohydrates.  The gum, seeds & roots were prepared for eating, either as a raw paste or roasted as a damper.  Wattle gum was eaten as a snack & made into a sweet drink when dissolved in water with nectar.

Wood from Wattle was made into a range of weapons; boomerangs, spear throwers, spear shafts & heads & shields.  Wattle doesn’t split, so made good digging sticks.  Gum from the Wattle was used to make glue to repair tools & to make traps waterproof.   Thin, pliable green stems were used to collect honey from beehives.

Some Wattle was used to poison fish in small billabongs.  The inner bark of some Wattles was perfect for making string & rope. These were also used in head decorations, ceremonial items & to make sandals. Bark was also used to create fine string for fishing nets & bags.

Wattle was used to make clap sticks, a traditional instrument. Dye was also made from Wattle. The leaves & pods produce a soapy lather & this was used for washing.

Wattle was prized as firewood as it is slow burning.  Wattle ash was mixed with the young leaves & stalks of native plants that contained nicotine & this was made into chewing tobacco.  Wattle was also used as a seasonal indicator telling the people when food was available in an area.

It’s an amazing plant as well as being beautiful, especially when in flower.  Unfortunately, Wattles trees are short-lived, but they do grow & spread easily & many species tolerate dry conditions. The Wattle species Acacia pycnantha is the floral emblem of Australia & features on the coat-of-arms.

I wrote about the history of National Wattle Day last year with a range of different facts about this wonderful plant.  http://bit.ly/UfzUVL

If you are interested in making Wattle perfume from a simple recipe published in 1896 see – http://bit.ly/OBaSwr

Wattle flower – this one had a much stronger perfume than the one above

This species of Callistemon has been used as a street tree all over Marrickville LGA. They flower twice a year & the flowers last for many months. The photo below clearly shows the difference in flower size & colour between this & the newer Callistemon species that is being planted now.

As I write this post, the air is full of the song of feasting Lorikeets.  It sounds wonderful & lasts for much of the day.

Marrickville Council planted some new Bottle Brush trees (Callistemon) in the area last year, about which the community was very pleased, especially as Council removed concrete to plant the trees.  The trees have grown quickly, already having reached around 3.5 metres in height.  They also look great when in flower, except they only flower once a year & the display lasts for only 3 weeks.  Blink & they are gone!

This morning I had a chat with others about these new Bottle Brush street trees with the concern being that the birds & bats ignore them because the flowers are dry.

The flowers of the new species of Callistemon are a gorgeous vivid red & bigger than the usual flowers produced by the older Callistemon street trees that are all over Marrickville LGA. These new flowers are all show & almost useless as a food source for wildlife.

The same happened to two Grevilleas we planted. We eventually removed them because the birds & bats were ignoring the flowers.  We plant specifically to feed urban wildlife so an ornamental tree was not what we wanted, even if it was a native & the flowers were pretty.

It was annoying because there is no indication when you buy these trees that they produce dry flowers.  We presumed the same happened with Marrickville Council.

The nursery told us it was because the trees were hybrids & grafted to specifically produce great flowers.  That the flowers don’t produce much nectar & are therefore useless to nectar-feeding wildlife is not considered an issue.  It’s a hit & miss. Some are okay, but most end up with ornamental flowers…great for florists.

This morning’s chat moved on to wondering how many of these ornamental Callistemon street trees Marrickville Council have planted, whether they will continue to plant this particular Callistemon species in the years ahead & even whether they know that the flowers have little or no nectar.

There was great concern that Council will continue to plant this particular Callistemon species with the fear being that the birds & bats will not have enough food in the years ahead when the older Callistemon street trees are replaced. Using these trees would also have an affect on biodiversity now.

Someone said, “Imagine no flocks of cheeky Lorikeets chattering away in the trees?”  We all agreed. Somehow the sound of these birds lightens our lives.

Last July 2011 Clr Phillips put up a Notice of Motion –That Council develop a policy of requiring &/or facilitating the relocation of Canary Island palms where a development requires their removal.”  This was on the Council Meeting agenda last month.  Apologies for the length of this post.

Most of the staff advice is as follows, with my response written in bold. –

  • This will create an obligation on Council to locate & maintain the identified trees in Council streets & parks. (What is the problem with this? Council maintains thousands of public trees).
  • It is estimated the cost of removal & replanting will be covered by the Developer. As a general principle the merits of a development proposal should be considered on the basis of the tree in its original location, not on the developer’s ability to relocate it to a new site. (This surprised me.  I would have thought that if a DA wanted a Canary Island Palm removed, then Council could give approval on the basis that Council is given the tree & Council relocates it to a position of their choice).
  • The species is not self cleaning & mechanical removal of dead fronds is required as part of their maintenance. The trees were popular for civic, institutional & large formal garden plantings from about the 1850s to the 1950s. (Cabbage Tree Palms are not self-cleaning either, yet Council still chooses & plants these in parks & as street trees).
  • Marrickville has several significant plantings, including St Brigids Church & the old hospital site on Marrickville Road; Graham Avenue & Hastings Street behind the old hospital site; Carrington Road South Marrickville, & Brooklyn Street, Tempe. The Graham Avenue palms are listed in Council’s heritage register as an example of 1930s Depression relief work. (All these trees should be listed on the Heritage Register. These trees are well regarded by local residents I have spoken to who find them beautiful, impressive & a positive addition to parks & the streetscape).
  • All of these locations are identified in Council’s Australian White Ibis Management Plan 2007 because of the predilection of these birds to inhabit

    Beautiful landscaping at the intersection opposite Arlington Recreation Reserve in Dulwich Hill includes a Canary Island palm in the traffic island

    & nest in Canary Island Date Palms. Although native & endangered, the Australian White Ibis does not enjoy popular status when living in close quarters with humans, often being described as noisy & smelly. Management of palm habitat to reduce its attractiveness to the Ibis includes pruning into a ‘wineglass’ or ‘pineapple’ shape by removing horizontal fronds to reduce the space suitable for nesting. (Removing their beauty). However, constant pruning can damage palms.  Pruning palm fronds can lead to poor trunk formation & can threaten the health of the palm when applied over several seasons. Pruning also increases the risk of disease spreading between palms. At the time when Council’s Australian White Ibis Management Plan 2007 was being prepared it was noted that the Carrington Road palms had been regularly pruned by Council over the previous 3 to 4 years & their health was being compromised by the constant pruning. (Many in the community were wondering what was wrong with the Carrington Road trees.  Only last month a business owner spoke to me about 1 of these trees concerned that it was dying.  In 2009, 3 replacement Canary Island Palms died during the drought. They were removed & not replaced much to the disappointment of both the businesses & locals). Council’s tree management officer recommended that pruning should be limited to only removing dead fronds & flower stalks to prevent killing the palms. Phoenix palm tree maintenance is at the higher cost end of tree species maintained by Council due to the need to mechanically remove fronds on a regular basis, the elevated platform required for the work, arboricultural hygiene requirements & the difficulty of disposing of the fibrous & spiky fronds, which generally cannot be recycled & must be disposed of to landfill. (That Council would need to prune a few fronds is a small cost considering the overall benefits of this species of tree.  Council would not need to prune more than once year & even that may be an over-estimate.  Landfill from fronds is far better than most of what reaches landfill).

  • One of the recommended strategies of the Australian White Ibis Management Plan 2007 is to limit new ibis nesting habitat in Marrickville through revision of tree management related policies  (Marrickville Council chooses to get rid of trees on the basis of the need to prune & because of wildlife.  If there are no trees for the Ibis, perhaps they will start using the roofs of houses.  Places where these birds could be out of the way & not an annoyance for people like the Cooks River have more grasses than trees).
  • The yellow fruit of the palm, although not attractive to humans are popular with birds & bats & the seeds are highly viable. Self-seeded specimens propagate widely throughout the Marrickville LGA & metropolitan Sydney & it has become a weed species in East Gippsland, the Riverina & Auckland New Zealand. (I’d be interested if you have you ever seen one growing spontaneously in gardens, parks across Marrickville LGA.  I’ve seen 3. All are growing the fork of Fig trees & are small enough for me to remove.  I’d hardly consider them an invasive tree in this LGA.  Wolli Creek would be the only area I would worry about.   Marrickville LGA is not East Gippsland, the Riverina & Auckland New Zealand. Eucalypts are a weed in South Africa & the US, yet we still plant these species of tree in Australia. Causarinas which multiply by sending out endless suckers do not seem to be a problem to Council).
  • Canary Island Date Palms are susceptible to Fusarium wilt. The disease is active in Sydney & has resulted in the death & removal of a fine stand of the palms in Centennial Park. (Is the potential for disease a reason why these trees should not be saved? I don’t think so, nor do the people who pay many thousands of dollars purchasing mature Canary Island Palms to landscape their properties).
  • Consultation undertaken during the preparation of the Marrickville Urban Forest Strategy reflects a growing community interest in trees & in the use of locally provenanced tree species. The observation is made that although these grand, architecturally formed palms were frequently planted & often produced highly attractive landscapes, their day as landscape feature elements has passed & Council should be increasing its plantings of locally endemic species to address biodiversity & amenity issues. (I participated in this community consultation & did not see the issue of Canary Island Palms brought up as a topic by Council.  This blog has always advocated for native food-producing trees to be planted around the LGA.  However, I have also advocated for keeping & caring for non-native trees that provide food for both people & urban wildlife, especially when those trees provide beauty.  It is in autumn that one notices just how many ornamental fruit trees that provide no value to wildlife there are in our parks & streets across the LGA).
  • Any proposal to remove a tree as part of a DA is assessed on its merits.

    Canary Island palms in Marrickville Park

    Where Council agrees that a tree cannot be kept, if practical & appropriate conditions can be imposed to require certain species to be relocated within the development site – this is the preferred option in the case where retention of the tree is warranted & the species is suitable to transplant successfully. Transplanting of trees to Council owned sites within the LGA as a condition of consent is problematic unless there is an adopted policy & process to facilitate this option in an efficient & timely way.  (Once again, I fail to understand why Council sees the transplanting of a tree onto Council property as a cost that should be born by the developer.  Council should be requesting the tree as a gift to the community rather than it be chopped down & added to landfill.  I doubt that there would be many developers who would care that Council takes away a tree that they want to get rid of.  In fact, the transplanting of a tree removes the considerable cost of removing the tree for the developer).

I was not present for the debate. The vote was – For: Clrs Olive, Peters, Phillips, Kontellis & Byrne.  Against: Clrs Iskandar, Tsardoulias, Wright, O’Sullivan, Thanos, Hanna & Macri.  Not passed.

I will continue to advocate for transplanting these majestic trees.  I do so because it seems crazy to throw away a tree that likely has another 80-100-years of life left, that is relatively easy to transplant, provides food & habitat for urban wildlife, is a link to our history & significantly improves streetscapes.  The relative ugliness of our streetscapes in particular is a desperate need in many areas across Marrickville LGA.  Even Council has referred to these trees as creating “highly attractive landscapes.”

I feel disappointed with Marrickville Council.  Surrounding Councils do transplant these trees into traffic islands, as feature trees in appropriate locations & their community benefits.  I have talked to all sorts of people who frequently mention these trees in a positive light, particularly when they have been the beneficiaries of one planted in their locality.  As Ibis are a concern, there are plenty of sites where these trees could be planted where they would not be affecting residential homes.  I sincerely doubt whether half a dozen Canary Island palms a year would come up for removal & perhaps 1 or 2 of these would not be found suitable to transplant due to issues of access, but Council could at least try.  End of rant.

Here is a 1-minute video showing Ibis in a row of Canary Island palms opposite Lewisham Railway Station – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Iv_BWDMvp4

This Canary Island palm beautifies & makes an impressive feature a traffic island in the Stanmore shopping strip

Wattle features on the Australian Coat of Arms

“The first ‘national’ Wattle Day was celebrated in Sydney, Melbourne & Adelaide on the First of September 1910.” – so says a really good history of National Wattle Day from the Wattle Day Association.  http://www.wattleday.asn.au/

I wondered why we have a day to honour the Wattle.  After a bit of research I collected these Wattle facts.  I didn’t know many of them so I hope you find them interesting.

  • Their botanical name is Acacia.
  • There are at least 950 varieties of Wattle indigenous to Australia.
  • Another 350 varieties grow in Africa & America.
  • Botanist George Benthan was the first to formally document the Wattle & he did so in the London Journal of Botany in 1842.
  • The Australian Cricket team wore a green & gold cap when they toured England in 1899. These became the official colours for subsequent cricket teams.  Some of our Olympic team wore green & gold in 1908 with the colors becoming official in 1912.  In 1928 the Australian Rugby team wore the green & gold for the first time.
  • In 1984 the Wattle’s green leaves & golden-coloured flowers were chosen as the Australian National Colours.
  • Prue Acton as the official designer for the Olympic uniforms also used the green & gold colours.  In 2008 she said the following, “Green & gold,” she insisted, “are not complementary. They do not represent the spectrum. They tire the eyes & force them to seek relief elsewhere. Worse, they’re irrelevant. My land is red-gold, is blue-violet, is ochre, is magenta-tinged & purple-shaded. My land is not green & gold. There’s no way to make them – in any version – work for us.”  Journalist John Huxley wrote in the same article, “Looking across local playing fields it would be easy to conclude she was right. The Socceroos’ present shirt is such a ghastly combination of bilious green & insipid yellow that it is a crime against fan fashion.”   Perhaps we love Wattle, but that love should be kept to the tree & not taken to clothing, particularly clothing that represents us as a country.   http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2008/02/28/1203788535250.html?page=fullpage
  • A sprig of Wattle is also featured on our Coat of Arms.  The Wattle flower has been our unofficial Floral Emblem since 1901 only becoming official in 1988. It symbolizes the unity & the spirit of the people of Australia.
  • The Wattle flower has adorned stamps & is also on the Order of Australia Medal, Australia’s highest award.
  • It is said that a Wattle was the first plant to flower after the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.
  • The flowers have a distinctive soft scent & have been used in perfumes.
  • The Wattle does not live for many years, usually only between 5 & 20 years depending on the species.  However the Western Myall (Acacia pendula) lives to 200-years or more, Western Myall (Acacia papyrocarpa) lives around 250-years.  Blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon) also lives for around 200-years.
  • Wattle regenerates easily after a bush fire. Rain after a fire causes seeds held in the soil to germinate.
  • Old Wattle seeds are generally viable & will grow as long as the hard casing of the seed is abraded.
  • To germinate the seeds yourself, simply soak in hot water to break the hard seed coat & plant into a seedling mix.  Replant the seedlings into larger pots before planting in the ground.
  • Wattle flowers are mostly yellow & are a collection of small ball-shaped flower clusters.   However, Acacia purpureopetala (listed as vulnerable) has mauve-pink flowers & Acacia gilbertii has white flowers. Two Victorian Wattles that were only discovered recently have red & orange flowers each. Scarlet Blaze (Acacia leprosa) discovered in 1995 has red flowers. It has since become Victoria’s Centenary of Federation floral emblem. Hedge Wattle (Acacia paradoxa) discovered in 2007 has orange flowers.
  • The bark is good for making tannin.
  • The early settlers to Australia used Wattle & daub to make their homes.
  • The wood is also prized by furniture & cabinetmakers.
  • The Mulga Wattle (Acacias aneura) has a much harder wood than other Wattles & is traditionally used by indigenous Australians to make musical instruments, tools & weaponry.
  • Wattle seed is bush tucker & is often used in bread.
  • Wattles are reasonably drought tolerant.  They grow reasonably fast & this makes them useful for erosion control or for when you want a quick effect in your garden. Planted together they make good screening. They tolerate pruning.
  • Most Wattles grow to between 4-10 metres tall.  There are however, some much taller varieties.  White Marblewood (Acacia bakeri) is the tallest recorded at nearly 50-metres (164.5-feet) tall. Imagine this in flower! Blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon) can reach 30-metres (100-feet).  Snake Wattle (Acacia aculeatissima) is really a low groundcover.
  • Some Wattle species in Australia are classified ‘invasive.’  In South Africa the Sydney Golden Wattle (Acacia longifolia) & the Golden Wattle (Acacia pycnantha) are regarded as a weed.
  • One species Georgina Gidgee (Acacia georginae) is very poisonous & will kill sheep & cattle.

So happy National Wattle Day on this first day of spring.  The Wattle Day Association has an extensive history of the Wattle in Australia.  See –  http://www.wattleday.asn.au/

A Wattle in Steel Park was in flower 3 weeks ago

I’m keen on hedges & hedgerows.  I think they not only look great, but with the right kind of hedge, you can create food sources & safety for birds, especially small birds.  Hedges are also good for other urban wildlife & help improve & foster biodiversity by providing habitat.

Hedges & hedgerows also add beauty & make an area look neat & cared for.  They fill up places where litter would collect.  There are many places across Marrickville LGA where hedgerows could be used to hide the areas that don’t look good, especially along the railway lines.  In this situation they would act as a noise & wind buffer, also reducing dust.

Small native flowering hedges could be used along sections of the verges around Marrickville LGA. Surely this would be cheaper to manage than the current $2.2 million Marrickville Council spends on mowing.  There are plenty of small growing natives that would be soft enough so as not to cause injury.

Not all hedges need to be pruned into the usual shape.  If they are planted next to a cyclone fence for example, they can be pruned once or twice a year just to get any errant branches out of the way & prevent them from growing too tall.  The more room, the easier it is to allow them to grow into a more natural shape. It’s a case of choosing the right species & planting the hedgerow in the right place, just like trees.

Rockdale Council is using New Zealand Christmas trees very successfully as hedging along waterfront pedestrian walkways in Sandringham.  They look stunning & Rockdale Council obviously doesn’t think hedges are too hard to manage.

These flower in winter so there were great big red flowers at eye-level & lower bringing colour into the area.  Rockdale Council didn’t need to plant hedges here. They could have relied on the fencing of the properties. Instead they took control of the visual amenity allowing whatever people wanted to do with their own fencing to be hidden behind a flowering hedge.  Many have chosen to hedge as well.

Had Rockdale Council not planted a hedge, it would have likely been nothing more than grass trying to grow on sand. And litter, because when spaces are bare, that’s what tends to happen.  Watch a 36 second YouTube video of these hedges here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hA12Z4Kr4tM

I wrote about the New Zealand Christmas tree here –  https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2010/11/15/new-zealand-christmas-tree/

Full of food for birds & gorgeous to look at

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