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Pittwater Council gave priority to this tree outside the Avalon shops. Photo by Nina Gow with thanks :-)

Pittwater Council gave priority to this tree outside the Avalon shops. Photo by Nina Gow with thanks 🙂

Three cheers for Pittwater Council who recently decreased the car parking at the Avalon shops by one space to accommodate the encroaching roots of this beautiful street tree – instead of chopping it down.

Research has found that a leafy shopping area increases consumer spending by around 11 per cent, so it is in the interests of the businesses along here to keep all the trees they can.  It’s great to see priority given to a tree over a parking space.

Plenty  of room for the roots now.  Photo by Nina Gow with thanks :-)

Plenty of room for the roots now. Photo by Nina Gow with thanks 🙂

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Banksia are in flower at the moment.

Pittwater Council has created the first online biodiversity calendar for NSW.

From their website – “This is an image-based atlas for the coastal communities of Pittwater, Hornsby and Gosford. It includes seasonal information on native plants, animals and birds found in these communities. The calendar also includes Indigenous content, information on weed species, weather patterns and community events.”

Pittwater Council will hold 6 community events to, “engage people to see nature through ‘nature’s eyes’ ie, actual seasonal shifts and changes, rather than calendar months. These events will also promote local environmental groups, activities and events for people to become interested in.”  The Council is asking the community to supply photographic images of the flora & fauna to be included in the calendar.

This is a brilliant & innovative idea that will engage the community as well as creating a fantastic database. Even though it is for the Pittwater area, many of the plants are growing locally in Marrickville LGA making it a very useful resource for those interested.

It would be nice if Marrickville Council could do something similar & work with the community to create it.  There is so many knowledgeable people in this area & almost everyone carries a camera these days.  See – http://www.pittwater.nsw.gov.au/environment/biocalendar

Not suitable for Pittwater with its landscape of soft green & greys of native plants

Last week I spotted something interesting that Pittwater Council is doing to improve the visual outlook of the municipality.

Having long disliked buildings that are painted in garish colours like lime green, bright yellow, bright red or even striped in an attempt to make the business more noticeable & perhaps trademark it, I think what Pittwater Council are doing is quite revolutionary as they are doing this with trees.

Lime green & purple!

As part of their ‘Tree Replenishment Program’ aimed at increasing the tree canopy, Pittwater Council have said that the Leightons Cypress Pine is an undesirable species & are encouraging residents not to plant it.  Instead they give free advice to residents on what plants & trees are suitable & grow well in their area.

They also have a ‘Scenic Streets Register’ made up of pretty streets that have been chosen by local residents. This is such a great way to get the community connecting with their environment & thinking about how street trees can make or break the visual outlook of a street.  It would be great if our own Marrickville Council could do both their own version of the tree replenishment & the scenic streets programs.

Regarding the Leightons Cypress Pine, Pittwater Council’s Landscape Architect said, “Its bright lime-green colour & rigid form contrasts against the soft greens & greys of native plants which dominate the local landscape.”

It’s the little things that count. These three initiatives will ultimately increase the urban forest in Pittwater LGA & support residents to plant what will work & make the area more beautiful, instead of creating hotchpotch or areas that can be an assault on the eyes. We would certainly benefit from increasing the urban forest & perhaps one day Marrickville Council will address paint colours & signage for building exteriors for shops & shopping strips. But this last wish is perhaps being too radical. http://www.pittwater.nsw.gov.au/home/news_highlights/trees_and_hedges_in_the_spotlight

Not to be missed - Parramatta Road Camperdown

Carving into a tree provides an entry point for disease & pests & can lead to the tree's demise

The Manly Daily has an article in today’s news about the vandalism of 6 mature trees in Woorarra Avenue Elanora Heights. The trees were about to be listed on a register protecting iconic streets in Pittwater.

The vandals cut halfway through the trunks of the trees in an attempt to kill them. Problem was, the trees may have fallen on people injuring or killing them. Frankly, it was lucky that no one was hurt.  Pittwater Council will decide whether the trees can be retained or need to be removed.

What is great & should be followed by more Councils, including our own, is that Pittwater Council offer a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to a successful prosecution of tree vandals on any tree vandalised across Pittwater LGA.  This sends a clear message to the community that if caught, vandals will be prosecuted.  The fines are substantial & can be up to $100,000.  http://manly-daily.whereilive.com.au/news/story/leafy-avenue-under-attack/

People have been asking me what to plant to attract birds so in an earlier post, Trees are Restaurants, https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2010/05/27/trees-are-restaurants/ I said I would write about plants &

a gorgeous golden flower from a small Grevillea tree

trees that provide food for birds & other native animals.

This post is about the Grevillea, an Australian native. They are sometimes spelt Grevilliea.

There are about 360 varieties of Grevilleas. They range from ground covers to tallish trees. I’m no expert & others may say something different, but I think if you want birds into your garden quick smart, plant a Grevillea or 2 or 5.

Grevilleas are fast growing, look lovely, respond well to pruning by producing more flowers so they can be kept neat if that is a concern.  Many varieties flower for most of the year with peak periods in both winter & summer months.

The flowers of Grevilleas range from vibrant pinks, reds & oranges to subtle creams & yellows, so if you have a colour scheme in your garden, you can choose to suit.  The flowers themselves can be as tiny as a finger nail or 10 cm or longer & most are long lasting.  One Grevillea shrub or small tree can have a hundred or more flowers during the peak flowering period.

Because their roots are shallow they are not invasive to pipes, nor will they uplift cement or disturb kerbing.  They do not like having their roots disturbed & if this happens, they are likely to drop dead on you. I have not been able to successfully transplant a Grevillea & would recommend you choose your site well. Because their roots are shallow, they appreciate a cover of mulch to protect their roots from drying out.

Smaller Grevilleas are excellent in troughs & roof gardens where there is not too much soil. They grow well in all sorts of soils, including sandy soils, but don’t like to be too wet. They prefer an acidic soil in full sun. They are a great plant for low water requirements.

Robyn Gordon Grevillea - a small shrub

Bankstown City Council are running a program to bring the birds back by encouraging residents to plant bird-feeding plants. Grevilleas are one of those recommended.  230 different species of birds have been sighted in the Bankstown LGA. 16 of these are listed as endangered or vulnerable species in NSW, which is very sad.  Once these birds are gone, they are gone forever.  Pittwater Council has also decided that all properties should have an area at the back that is less cultivated & includes a variety of native plants to provide food sources & habitat for urban wildlife. They also recommend not removing dead trees & leaving hollow logs to provide homes.

There is no reason why we cannot do something similar, if modified somewhat to suit the higher density in some areas of Marrickville LGA. However, many of our gardens have sufficient space for planting many trees & shrubs.  One of my neighbours transformed their ¼ acre block from a lawn with a lemon tree to a spectacular haven for wildlife.  They used a mix of exotics & natives to stunning effect. Grevilleas make excellent trees or shrubs for small front gardens.

pink flowering Grevillea - small shrub

Many Grevilleas are hybrids now, which also ensures they grow well & flower prolifically. Grevilleas from Western Australia don’t do well on the east coast & visa-versa unless they are a hybrid.  Nurseries tend to stock plants that suit the local area, so unsuitability is rarely an issue.

I have read that hybrid Grevilleas are not so good for the birds as they are not used to having so much food.  I admit to ignoring this in an inner city environment, as I truly believe there is a shortage of food for wildlife rather than a glut.  They are competing with cement & plants that do not provide food. I highly doubt they will have obesity problems if we provide some more food sources for them.

I had suspected that possums eat Grevillea flowers & a Google search has confirmed my suspicion. Those who read this blog may remember that I have mentioned that a baby Ring-Tail Possum moved into a nearby street tree last year.  Well, of course he/she would.  There are palm seeds & Grevillea flowers galore at our place so he/she is probably stuffed.  The good news is there is no damage, no poo, & all our gardens are left alone.  Even the ice-berg roses (which possums apparently adore) in a front garden are untouched, proving that if there is sufficient food, the exotics are left alone.

There is only one small problem with Grevilleas that I am aware of.  Some people find the foliage irritating & bare skin contact with them makes their skin itchy. This is something to take into consideration if you have small children.

Which Grevillea to plant? Well that’s personal taste. The nursery will advise you on what grows to what height & the colour of the flowers. There is a Burke’s Backyard Factsheet that lists & describes Don Burke’s choice of the 13 best Grevilleas – http://www.burkesbackyard.com.au/factsheets/Flowering-Plants-and-Shrubs/Dons-Bakers-Dozen:-13-Best-Grevilleas/2102

Basically, if you plant a Grevillea, the birds will come & this can only be a good thing.

golden flowering Grevillea

1.        Environmental groups plan to protest to stop National Parks in NSW being developed for tourism by private development consortiums TOMORROW 2nd June 2010 outside Parliament House, Macquarie Street Sydney at 12 noon . The web-site of the Colong Foundation goes into the issue of development of National Parks in detail. http://www.colongwilderness.org.au/tourism/Stop_exploitation_of_national_parks.htm

2.        East Sydney residents are protesting against the RTAs plans to drop the creation of a garden at the corner of Bourke & Stanley streets around the Eastern Distributor chimneystack & instead, rezone the land for residential units. http://sydney-central.whereilive.com.au/news/story/east-sydney-locals-fuming-with-rta/

3.        The Sydney Botanical Gardens Trust have been given the go-ahead from the Federal Environment Department to use noise dispersal & water spraying to remove the grey-headed flying foxes, a threatened species, from the Gardens.  Respected conservation groups were against the proposal to remove the bats from the gardens.  For background see  https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2010/03/24/sydney’s-royal-botanic-gardens-trust-wants-‘threatened-species’-bats-banished/

http://sydney-central.whereilive.com.au/news/story/sydney-botanic-gardens-bats-will-be-harmed-by-removal-conservationists/

http://sydney-central.whereilive.com.au/news/story/bats-to-get-ear-bashing-at-sydney-botanic-gardens/

http://www.australiangeographic.com.au/journal/syndeys-bats-to-get-the-boot.htm

4.         Vandals destroyed more than 40 mature trees in Patterson Lakes & Moorabbin in May 2010.  The trees were planted to replace other trees vandalized 18 months previously. http://moorabbin-kingston-leader.whereilive.com.au/news/story/trees-butchered-in-outrageous-attack-at-patterson-lakes-moorabbin/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

5.        I’ve previously posted about the battle by the community who are against a DA for a new Woolworths supermarket at Newport. To date Pittwater Council has received 1,353 submissions from the community, most against the DA.  The community fears that local shopping strips will be lost when the Woolworths giant moves in. There is a similar concern with the proposed Marrickville Metro development. http://manly-daily.whereilive.com.au/news/story/room-for-improvement-woolies/

6.        More than 100 people attended a protest at the ADI site mid May 2010 including State Opposition Environment Spokeswoman Catherine Cusack, Liberal candidate for Londonderry Bart Bassett, Penrith Mayor Kevin Crameri, Councillor Ross Fowler & a representative of Lindsay Federal Labor MP David Bradbury. The community is trying to save 100 hectares of critically endangered Cumberland Plains woodland.  Interestingly, the news headline is – ‘There is still time to put things right.’ http://cumberland-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/there-s-still-time-to-put-things-right-at-adi-site/

Pansies & Marigolds in an island bed on Botany Road - far better than cement

The 1535 hectare site is to be developed by Delfin Lend Lease to create a new suburb – Jordan Springs.  It is one of the few green belts left in Western Sydney & is home to 110 bird species, 10 reptiles, 9 mammals, 8 frog species, 3 of them endangered & many plant species, including 4 rare ones.

I found an article from the Green Left written in 1996 where they say residents have been fighting to protect this land for the past 6 years.  This means the community has been fighting for 20 years to save this green corridor.  This is an interesting article as it provides a background history. http://www.greenleft.org.au/node/12798

The ADI Residents Action Group website also provides a great synopsis of what is going to happen & why the ADI site is important to preserve. http://www.adisite.org/

7.        Environmental protestors & Aboriginal traditional owners of the land continue to fight to prevent logging of the Mumbulla State Forest in South East NSW. http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/breaking-news/anti-logging-activists-lock-on-to-timber-harvesting-machinery/story-e6freuyi-1225867563540?from=public_rss

It is the last remaining habitat for around 50 Koalas. This may not seem many Koalas to require the stopping of logging a forest, but at The Australian Koala Foundation website, https://www.savethekoala.com/ they say, “there are less than 80,000 koalas left in the wild, possibly as few as 43,000.”  This certainly makes 50 Koalas extremely significant.  Personally, I think every Koala is significant, but we are talking about big money to be made here versus the habitat & survival of an animal. This is always a problem because the animals generally lose. That the Koala is listed as vulnerable in NSW is supremely important.

The Nature Conservation Council of NSW is calling for urgent action to stop logging & save the Mumbulla State Forest & have outlined ways in which the community can become involved. http://nccnsw.org.au/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3002&Itemid=1

Last Friday 28th May 2010 a coalition of conservationists, including Chipstop & the Nature Conservation Council of NSW have called for the Federal Government to step in & order that the logging be stopped.  Intensive wood-chipping of Mumbulla State Forest has taken place this week.  Interestingly, due to countries buying less of our woodchip at the moment, there is some concern that they won’t even be able to sell the woodchips they have made from the torn down forest. The Tasmanian timber company Gunns recently posted a 98% drop in its ½ yearly profit, partly due to a drop in woodchip sales. http://bigpondnews.com/articles/Environment/2010/05/28/Fed_govt_needs_to_protect_NSW_koalas_467192.html

8.         Landcare is collecting old mobile phones to help their aim of planting 30,000 trees along the Murray River, at the Mallee in WA & in the Daintree Forest in Far North QLD.  90% of each mobile phone is recyclable so giving your old mobile to collection points stops them landing up in landfill where they don’t degrade.  Collection points are Australia-wide & to find a collection point near you – www.mobilemuster.com.au

9.        Great news in that the Federal Government contributed to the purchase of a 14,000 hectare property called Bowra Station located in western QLD.  The property, purchased by the Australian Wildlife Conservancy is home to 200 species of birds. Birdwatchers will be able to go there.  http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/05/21/2906362.htm

10.        More great news as the NSW Labor government has decided to pay logging industry $97 million  & in turn, they are to stop logging the River Red Gums by the end of June 2010.  A National Park in the Millewa group of forests will be established in July 2010 & will be jointly managed with the Yorta Yorta people. http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/05/19/2903840.htm

11.        I found the Environmental Volunteers Newsletter on Marrickville Council’s web-site.  It’s a great newsletter with information about current activities & contact details of all the environmental groups working in the LGA. http://www.marrickville.nsw.gov.au/environment/volunteering.htm

As of last weekend the historic Fig tree at the IKEA development Tempe was still standing. Its shape has changed so I think it has been pruned.

In the May 2010 edition of Marrickville Matters magazine, Mayor Iskandar said, “I urge Marrickville residents to find that piece of land that is not being used & come to us for help to establish their own community garden.” Marrickville Councils Community Sustainability Co-ordinator can be contacted on 9335-2222. May’s magazine has a environmental feel with many articles focusing on the environment across the LGA. Council also says Mackey Park in Marrickville South will be carbon-neutral with all power needs being offset by the use of photovoltaic cells which generate electricity when exposed to sunlight.  This is really good.

12.        Go easy on the mince & bacon rashers if you feed Kookaburras because a Kookaburra was found in a Mosman Park being chased by dogs because he was too fat to fly.  He is currently in rehab at Taronga Zoo Sydney & on a diet, poor birdie. http://bigpondnews.com/articles/OddSpot/2010/06/01/Hefty_Kookaburra_has_grams_to_go_468341.html

The University of Tasmania have just completed a 3 year nation-wide study as to why some people prefer a leafy front garden while others don’t. Interestingly, tertiary educated people preferred trees & the higher the  income, the more trees. http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/05/03/2888948.htm

An unusual story of public tree removal in Newport:  The Cumberland Courier reported that an unspecified number of trees & scrub has been removed from Barenjoey Road by Pittwater Council. Residents requested the trees be removed saying the trees were not native & removing them would open up the area to ocean views from North Newport. http://cumberland-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/trees-removed-barrenjoey-views-restored/

Pittwater Council’s Natural Environment Reference Group has submitted a plan to have all new DAs required to maintain wildlife corridors across their land. This would also include retaining dead trees, as these are especially important for providing homes for a variety of wildlife.  The new plan specifically targets the protection of Green-&-Gold Bell Frogs, Swift Parrots, Squirrel Gliders, Southern Brown Bandicoots & (would you believe they are even there) Koalas.  Any DA will also be required to plant more trees & wildlife sustaining landscaping. http://manly-daily.whereilive.com.au/news/story/protection-plan-for-endangered-animals/

Mid April 2010 North Sydney Council decided to explore the idea of replanting garden beds in parks & reserves with vegetables. http://cumberland-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/councillors-dig-vegie-patch-idea/

North Sydney Council stopped mowing verges early 2009, but after complaints from residents, they will now do a one-off mow at the cost of $58,000. They also intend to reinstate verge mowing by the end of 2010.

Just as an aside, I was told Marrickville Council spends about $2 million per year mowing our verges.  Makes me wonder what that that money could be used for if we just mowed our own & our neighbours if they didn’t have a mower.  $2 million could repair the Coptic Church in Sydenham for history’s sake & for community use or it could buy a lot of street & park trees amongst many other things. I saw a sign in Catherine Street Leichhardt yesterday that read something like – ‘2.3 million dollar footpath upgrade.’ Or we could just grow veggie or flower gardens on our verges.   http://cumberland-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/nature-strips-to-be-mowed-soon/

Energy Australia has angered the community once again by ‘butchering’ 2 large trees in Allambie Heights shopping centre. http://manly-daily.whereilive.com.au/news/story/locals-angry-over-allambie-tree-butchery/

An 18 metre high Port Jackson Fig tree with a canopy spreading about 15 metres listed on the Significant Tree Register of City of Sydney Council was removed last month due to extensive rot.  It was part of a row of Figs in Joynton Aveneue Zetland.  The lost tree will be replaced by a mature Port Jackson Fig. http://cumberland-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/urgent-removal-of-fig-tree-in-zetland/

City of Sydney Council has joined with Marrickville Council in formally opposing the M5 extension that will go through Tempe Reserve, over Tempe Wetlands & terminate at Euston Road at Sydney Park. Terrific news. http://sydney-central.whereilive.com.au/news/story/sydney-council-formally-opposes-m5-extension/

It will be interesting to learn how the trial at removing smog in the M5 during March went. http://cumberland-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/m5-pollution-trial/

A home up for sale in the Brisbane suburb of Mackenzie incurred $20,000 damage after the front garden was excavated & 10 Palm trees stripped down by unknown workers who fled when people came to watch.  It is thought they were working on the wrong property. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/australiaandthepacific/australia/7685319/Australian-workmen-dig-up-wrong-garden.html

Finishing the ongoing story about the trees in the carpark of Walmart in Henderson Tennessee that were savagely pruned recently, Walmart have been ordered to replace 100 of the Elm trees. This will cost them around US$25,000. http://www.wkrn.com/Global/story.asp?S=12213247

row of trees along a footpath in Birchgrove

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