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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

Last week I found a tree in someone’s front garden that had me stopping the car once again & getting out for a closer look.  It was a New Zealand Christmas tree (Metrosideros excelsus). It is also known as the Pohutukawa tree.

Amazing that such a colourful bird can blend in so well

The tree was festooned with flowers with hundreds more yet to bloom.  The Lorikeets were all over it, so this is a great tree if you like birds.  Each flower is quite large at around 3 cms & like Red Flowering Gums, they grow in clusters at around 12 cms wide. The flowers are deep rich red.  The tree flowers a number of times a year with the main flowering season from November to February.

The New Zealand Christmas tree is an evergreen tree that can reach a height of between 7 – 10 metres in ideal conditions with a dense canopy of up to 7-metres wide. The leaves are a dark grayish-green with white ‘hair’s’ underneath & are 3-5 cms long, just enough to hide a Lorikeet or 10.

It handles pruning & is disease, pest, wind & salt tolerant. It is also drought tolerant once established & grows well in coastal areas.

It would make an excellent street tree & a whole street with these trees in flower would look wonderful. All that red would be quite striking when the trees were in flower.  The only downfall is that they can develop significant roots when mature, so it is definitely a case of plant it in the right place.

Some people are purists when it comes to wanting only Australian natives.  My opinion is that if a tree provides food for nectar-eating birds, then it is beneficial to the environment. The New Zealand Christmas tree certainly provides food for birds which they love. It also provides a dense canopy offering safety & shelter, which is important, especially for smaller birds.

I certainly think that the New Zealand Christmas tree would be a good choice in Marrickville LGA.  It would be good to have some bold colours here & there.

You can grow the New Zealand Christmas tree from seeds, which are available from most nurseries. I think it’s the tree world equivalent of a super model on par with the Red Flowering Gum.

close-up of the flowers of the New Zealand Christmas tree

 

 

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