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If you can, plant something native that feeds birds, bats, insects & bees to help increase the biodiversity across Marrickville LGA.

This wonderful 47-page booklet from the Department of Primary Industries is available free online.  Called ‘Grow Me Instead,’ it lists both native & exotic plants & trees that cause problems for the natural environment in the Greater Sydney District & suggests both non-invasive native & exotic replacements.

This Asparagus fern looks much better than the usual litter & weed-filled area around street trees. Unfortunately it has invaded the bushland of Wolli Creek.  This plant spreads easily & is incredibly difficult to remove.

The booklet has photographs to help identify plants & trees that can cause problems for bush areas.  Each plant or tree identified as a potential problem is followed by other photos of better planting choices & all come with growing information.  For example: the Formosa lily is identified as a garden escapee. Grow me Instead options that look very similar to the Formosa Lily are the Swamp Lily, Day Lily & Amazon Lily.

The Grow Me Instead concept allows gardeners to choose better plants for the region while still getting the look that they want.

According to the Department of Primary Industries, two thirds of Australia’s weeds are escaped garden plants.

“It cannot be repeated often enough that weeds & garden escapees are extremely regional. What may be a problem in one area, or even one state, may not be so in another.”  

The booklet for the Great Sydney District can be downloaded here (1.7MB) –

There is a Grow Me Instead booklet available to download for the South Coast Region & another for the whole of NSW.  See –


Kendrick Park - Unfortunately this is the only photo I have of the Mulberry tree. The tree was creating the shadow in the foreground & trunk is not visible. The trunk that is visible is a dead tree.

Remember the Mulberry tree in Kendrick Park Tempe?  Well it’s gone & not even a mention of this in Marrickville Council’s website.   On 13th January 2011 Council said they intended to remove 7 trees, but made no mention of chopping down the Mulberry tree that stood there alone on the bank of the Cooks River.

I assume they didn’t bother to let the community know because they consider these trees a weed. Birds eat the fruit, then spread the seed when they poop in another location.  It would be interesting to know whether Wolli Creek is full of rogue Mulberry trees, but I can say that neither side of the Cooks River, the parks or the local streets have Mulberry trees sprouting up. The only tree that is spreading wherever they are planted is Casuarinas.

It’s a confusing issue because some Sydney Councils regard Mulberry trees as weeds while others don’t.  City of Sydney Council is planting fruit trees on verges & in parks & I have seen a Mulberry tree in one of these locations.  Mulberry trees can also be bought at any nursery & are not an uncommon sight in private gardens around the locality.

The NSW Department of Primary Industries don’t classify the Mulberry tree as a weed.  Neither do Weeds Australia, but they do classify the the  Tulip tree, the White cedar & the Spotted gum as weeds.  Marrickville Council plants all 3 of these species across the LGA.

You can see ornamental trees just about everywhere across Marrickville LGA. They look pretty for 2-3 weeks in winter when they put on a display of colour, but they are useless to wildlife.

There is also some concern in the community about the Flowering or Evergreen Ash (Fraxinus griffithii).  I have been told that this tree is “about” to be classified as a weed in NSW, yet Council is planting these trees all over Marrickville LGA.  Both the Global Compendium of Weeds & ‘CRC for Australian Weed Management’ classifies Fraxinus griffithii as a weed.

Why does Council leave the so-called ‘weed’ trees to grow for many years & decades before they are removed?  I am also interested as to why there isn’t an ongoing educational campaign where Council informs the community of environmentally destructive trees & encourages their removal.

The person who told me that the Mulberry tree in Kendrick Park had been chopped down was livid.  They too have not seen Mulberry trees spreading throughout the Cooks River & were very concerned that another food source for people, birds & especially flying foxes was gone.  The Mulberry tree has not been replaced with another species.

Last year Marrickville Council removed 8 trees at the Dibble Street Waterhole & 2 of these were Mulberry trees. On that occasion, Council did put up a ‘notification of removal’ on their website.  I can’t get used to Marrickville Council’s inconsistencies regarding the notification of tree removal.  I wonder how hard it is to put up a ‘notification of removal’ of all public trees, even those that Council regards as weeds, those hit by trucks or those damaged in a storm or whatever reason means that they need to be chopped down Today.

Most people wouldn’t know a weed tree from non-weed tree. All we see is a tree & often the tree in question looks great, produces food or is full of wildlife so there is no understanding why the tree was removed. This results in feelings of anger toward Council that I have noticed tends to linger.  People tell me of tree incidents that happened years ago.  This can’t be in Marrickville Council’s best interest.

Lorikeets love the nectar of Grevillea flowers

Tree of Heaven - a straggly plant that fills the air with the most gorgeous perfume during hot summer nights. It is a self-seeding weed & the birds continue the spread of this plant when they eat the berries

This post has nothing to do with trees, but I believe it is of interest in light of the fact that Marrickville LGA is about to undergo quite substantial high-rise development.

In 2002 Council decided to create a new rate of ‘rates’ to apply to large shopping centres like Marrickville Metro.  It charged Marrickville Metro the new ‘rate,’ higher than the rate that applies to homes & smaller businesses.

The company paid the new rate each year, but in 2008 objected & took the case to the Land & Environment Court. The court ruled in Marrickville Council’s favour.  The company appealed to the NSW Court of Appeal.  It argued the new rate should be overruled on a raft of grounds such as: Council had failed to comply with various sections of the Local Government Act, the rate was unfair, the rate was targeting only one site (Marrickville Metro), the 2002 & subsequent decisions about the new rate were manifestly unreasonable, the rate was imposed for improper purpose, the rate was discriminatory, some Councillors who voted in favour of the rate were biased.

On 24th June 2010, the 3 judges of the NSW Court of Appeal dismissed every ground of the company’s appeal. At paragraph 198 of the judgment Justice John Basten put it beautifully & succinctly, where he wrote:  In many respects the company’s submissions “were simply untenable” & its arguments “were largely misconceived.”

The General Manager’s report in 2002 that examined the rationale for the higher ‘rate’ said:

Council may wish to consider the following factors:

  • Larger shopping centres may attract additional traffic to the LGA & may concentrate traffic emanating from within the LGA placing a proportionately greater pressure on existing road & footpath infrastructure than other shopping configurations.
  • Larger shopping centres attract larger retailers who are more likely to draw from a wider employment pool than that available within the LGA. Small shops along shopping strips & local businesses may be more likely to employ local staff enhancing local employment & local economic prosperity.
  • Council may determine that the rate to be applied to shopping strips should be proportionately less than that applying to larger shopping areas to promote the survival of shopping strips. Apart from the more obvious issue of maintaining the economic vitality of local businesses, this action would support the following Council initiatives:

– Mainstreet strategies to promote local business

– Streetscape works designed to enhance the look & feel of shopping areas

– Community Safety objectives which are enhanced when people are attracted to prosperous, pleasant, well lit, local shopping areas

– Access for the elderly to shopping facilities particularly where car transport is not available.

  • Enhancing the economic viability of suburban businesses may assist in maintaining the individual character of shopping & business zones within the Marrickville LGA. This would reflect the cultural, social & economic needs of the diverse range of residents within these areas & may help promote the unique characteristics of the Marrickville Council area from a tourist perspective.”

This is a landmark decision. Well done Marrickville Council.  Businesses & developments are getting bigger & bigger, bringing increasing pressure on public infrastructure & impacts on the community that Council ultimately needs to pay for. It would be nice if the JRPP keep the above points in the General Manager’s report  at the forefront of their mind when considering applications for new large developments.



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