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The arrow points to the street tree to be removed. As you can see, it is the best in Westbourke Street.

The arrow points to the street tree to be removed. As you can see, it is the best in Westbourke Street.

Marrickville Council has given notice that they intend to remove 2 street trees in Stanmore.

Tree number 1:  Chinese Tallowood (Sapium sebiferum) at Westbourke Street, adjacent 48 Charles Street.

Council gives the following reasons for removal –

  • The tree is causing significant damage to the adjacent building which cannot be over come by any reasonable or practical means other than removal.
  • The tree presents an unacceptable risk to the private property.

Council says they will replace this tree with a Crepe Myrtle (Lagerstroemia Sp.) during the 2012-2013 replacement tree-planting program.

As I drove down Westbourke Street I admired a lovely tree that cascaded across the street.  Of course, the tree up for removal turned out to be this tree.  It is entirely unsuitable for the location & sad as it is, I agree that it needs to go.  The roots are large & head straight into the property 1-metre away.  I will not be putting in a submission.

Tree number 2:  Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) at the rear of 14 Alfred Street Stanmore (public reserve).  I could not locate an Alfred Street in Stanmore.  There is one in Marrickville & one in St Peters.  Therefore I did not go & look at this tree.

Council gives the following reasons for removal –

  • The tree exhibits poor form & structural condition as a result of extensive wood decay & borer damage throughout the trunk.
  • The tree is poorly located & is likely to be a sucker from a neighbouring tree of the same species.
  • It presents an unacceptable risk to the public & property.

The Deadline for submissions for both trees ends on Friday 11th January 2013.

Westbourke Street tree to be removed.

Westbourke Street tree to be removed.

Showing the roots.

Showing the roots.


At the Council Meeting on 9th December 2009 Councillors voted to have a large & healthy Lemon Scented Gum (Corymbia citriodora) outside 139 Cambridge Street Stanmore removed.  My post about their decision says,  A new ‘more suitable’ tree will be planted in its place.”  See ––-last-attempt-to-save-street-tree-fails/

The tree was chopped down on 19th January 2010.   It has not been replaced.

Because the tree cascaded over the road the loss of this tree had a large & negative impact on the streetscape in this location.  I hope that Marrickville Council do decide to replace this street tree as part of the 2012 tree-planting program.

2 planting seasons have passed & still this space remains empty despite that a new tree was promised for this location.

The red is the canopy that I think will remain if the 2 offending trunks are removed. The blue is part of the Fig tree canopy.

Marrickville Council intends to remove a Willow Bottlebrush (Callistemon salignus) outside 54 Durham Street Stanmore.

Council gives the following reasons for removal –

  • Excessive & repeated lopping for clearance of electrical supply, creating an uneven canopy with a large amount of wind exposed canopy over dwelling.
  • Remedial pruning would cause the tree to have little amenity value &
  • Repeated damage to council’s footpath infrastructure by roots of the subject tree.

Showing the pruning that has left this tree lob-sided. Underneath the branches that go over property is a young Fig tree. The lighter patches on the footpath are were the trip hazards have been ground down

Council, say they will replace with a Dwarf apple (Angophora hispida), but as usual, don’t say when they will do this.

This tree has multiple trunks (6), some with smaller branches higher up. Two of these grow over the footpath & property mingling with a young Fig tree in the front garden.  The tree is lob-sided due to pruning for powerlines. In my neighbourhood, the size of the current 6 trunks is equal to the trunks of 6 individual trees .

I disagree with Council that this tree will have “little amenity value” if it were pruned. The fact is the canopy of thousands of street trees across Marrickville LGA look just like this tree. No they don’t look good, but they are ‘normal’ for this area. If Council believes that this tree should be removed, then the community should be prepared for thousands of other trees across the municipality to be removed.

The 2 offending branches that hang over private property & make the tree lob-sided could be easily removed & there would still be a decent-sized street tree left, even if a little flat on top.  If this tree were given time to re-grow its weeping habit, it would look fine. Bottle brush usually bounce back after even the most horrendous prune, though it can take a while.

This is the next tree along. I think the tree to be removed will look similar except for the long branch left on this tree

In regards to Council’s statement, “repeated damage to council’s footpath infrastructure by roots of the subject tree,” we saw that 2 joins in the concrete had been professionally grounded back to remove a trip hazard & this had been done in a number of places further along the footpath.  The footpath was almost flat, wheelchair accessible & in far better condition than the footpath outside our home or on many of the streets we walk.  There is also the small issue of a young Fig tree in the front garden directly next to the tree. Cracking that appears to be caused by the Fig has already occurred to the fence.

While the replacement Dwarf apple is a nice short tree (7-metres) that produces food for urban wildlife, this street is filled with Callistemon trees, many with multiple trunks like the current tree.  I’m undecided about planting a different species when there seems to be a theme of street trees. It can look great. Then again, it can also look hotch-potch & this is something that people often complain about.

The deadline for submissions is 9th November 2011.  I don’t believe that this tree needs to be removed. *  However, I won’t be sending in a submission, though I would support the local community if they wanted this tree retained.  It does seem like a random loss when, after pruning, it will look like so many other trees across the municipality that happen to be under powerlines.  This tree’s bad luck I suppose.

*  I have changed my mind.  I will be sending a submission to Council against removing this tree for the above reasons.

View from the footpath

I found a 2009 TAFE paper that says, Marrickville LGA is densely populated with 4,325 people per square kilometre & has the least amount of green space of any LGA in Australia.”  This is an astounding statistic & with something like another 4,300 people going to live here as part of the last state government’s housing strategy, our green space will become even more important than it is now.

Some of our larger parks are classified ‘active parks,’ that is, parks that are primarily used for organized sporting activities. As such, some residents feel they cannot use the parks for much of the time.  Therefore, ‘passive,’ parks with playgrounds, picnic or grassed areas become very important to the non-sporting association community.

Residents need both ‘active’ & ‘passive’ parks.  Some like those along the Cooks River blend active & passive beautifully because of the size of the parks & access to the river.  A number of our passive parks are beautiful & visiting them is worth a trip out.  I will post about these over time.

A beautiful mature Fig tree complete with a great set of aerial roots in Weekley Park. Council has planted another Fig tree recently.

A couple of weeks ago we visited Weekley Park.  Almost everything about this grand old historical park is beautiful in my opinion.  Located between Percival, Albany & Clarendon Roads Stanmore, Weekley Park is full of large, tall trees & is laid out in grid pattern with every path meeting in the centre where there is a circle of very tall Canary Island palm trees.  20-years ago there used to be prolific flowering red, pink & white roses in the raised central garden, but instead there is now a few Nandinas with empty garden beds.  Some of the roses in other garden beds that connect with the central paths are still here so hopefully they will continue to be retained.

The Nandina look very ordinary & a bit scraggly in the centre feature garden that is supposed to bring the components of the park together.  Perhaps one day when Council has the funds they might bring back the roses or plant something a bit more dramatic & beautiful that suits the park, though this is a matter of personal taste. Other people might like Nandina. They certainly sell at nurseries.

Weekley Park is very popular green space as evident by the many people sitting in the shade on benches, on the grass or watching their kids play in the playground.  Lots of people, including adolescents, were in groups or alone reading.  It was nice to see.

The park is also full of bird song & this coupled with the visual aspect of the many tall trees makes it quite a relaxing place.  The playground equipment is new & there are toilets & drinking bubblers.  You can take your kids for a while & have no need to rush home because someone needs to go to the loo.

There are 2 large trees towards the centre that look to me to be in trouble, maybe even dead.  It’s hard for me to tell because it is still winter.  They have large areas of decay, holes & dead areas in the branches.  Actually, these holes would make fine homes for urban wildlife, but I doubt that the trees will be allowed to stay.  I hope when they do come down that they are replaced with equally large growing trees so the feel of the park can be retained.  The rest of the trees are in great health & there is a nice variety that all seems to come together well & give a stately look to the park.

Art installation 'Tree People' by Graham Chalcroft

There is a great piece of public art called ‘Tree People’ that was created by artist Graham Chalcroft & installed in June 2009 as part of Marrickville Council’s public art strategy.  I like it a lot. It’s whimsical & also functional as it includes double-sided benches.  Year 5 students from St Michael’s Catholic Primary School collaborated with the artist by drawing the animals that are ‘the guardians of the park.’  Council contracted public art is popping up around the LGA in public spaces, which is very nice.

One of the old Fig trees has the best aerial roots forming that I have seen in the LGA.  It’s great that they have been left to grow & have not been chopped off. One day they will do what they are supposed to do & offer structural support to the branches when they grow larger.

If you like parks, then I think you will like Weekley Park.  It is worth paying a visit & spending some time.  Dogs need to be on a leash & there are free poo bags supplied & a bin on site.  There are a few chess tables with bench seats, loads of park benches all facing good views of the park.

Council has recently planted quite a few new street trees on the verge that will also add beauty to the area.  The intersection is a Box or Murraya hedge (I didn’t go close enough to see) & this too looks grand & lovely.  Green intersections make any street look great in my opinion.  All these things work unconsciously in the mind saying this is a nice area.  One block away is the intersection almost everyone knows about.  It is the hundreds of agapanthus & white roses at the roundabout at Salisbury Road & Northumberland Avenue.  This was radical for the area in the mid 1980s & I remember a friend taking me from Balmain just to see it.  It’s still there, though not in as good condition, but still giving a strong message that Stanmore is a nice area.

I imagine some would wonder why I go on about such basic things like intersections.  I do so because the majority in Marrickville LGA are concrete or concrete patterned bricks.  Any green landscaping that softens the hard infrastructure is a plus in my opinion.  I strongly believe that landscaping makes an area nicer as do a sufficient number of good-looking street trees.  Some suburbs in Marrickville LGA have this as a norm while others look bare & somewhat harsh in comparison.  This has an impact on how our society feels about an area or even a whole suburb.

I have made a short YouTube video of Weekley Park here –


& the Salisbury Road  intersection here –

The centre of Weekley Park has a circle of mature Canary Island palm trees. There are also a couple of Canary Island palms at the perimeter. Instant charm. In the foreground are two rose gardens, dormant because of winter.

Marrickville Council intends to remove 2 Weeping Laurels Ficus benjamina located Outside 129 Stanmore Road, Stanmore.  Council gives the following reasons for removal –

  • Unacceptable damage to public & private infrastructure.
  • Trees will continue to cause damage.
  • Unsuitable street tree species.

2 street trees up for removal in Stanmore Road Stanmore

They say they will replace these trees with 1 Watergum Tristaniopsis laurina, but again, don’t say when they plan to do this.

I could write a post on its own about this species of tree being planted as a street tree or in small inner city gardens.  It is generally sold as an ornamental potted plant in supermarkets because it looks impressive in a pot.  I don’t often see it at nurseries. They were especially popular in pots either side of the front door in the 90s.

As with many pot plants, they out grow their pots or don’t do so well growing on a shaded porch, so people make the decision to plant them in the ground. This is fine if you live in a very large property & love large trees & have neighbours who love large trees because this species grows to between 12-24 metres tall with a large spreading canopy. They are simply not suitable for planting on the verge except in those areas where they have room to grow & where they are not likely to

Extensive surface roots from 2 trees Stanmore Road Stanmore. These trees are young so one could expect the roots to grow in size & strength

obstruct driver visibility.

While they are potted they look manageable, so if you think you want to plant one, ask yourself if you would plant a Moreton Bay Fig in your chosen site. Although the Moreton Bay Fig is a bigger tree at 24-30 metres tall, they are similar & therefore good as a comparison tree.  If you have one of these, my advice would be to always keep it in a pot.  In the ground in the wrong place is asking for trouble.  I identified these particular trees as trouble with a limited life last year shortly after starting SoT so I am not surprised to see them on the removal list.  Right now they are only babies. I will not be putting in a submission.

The deadline for submissions is Tuesday 12th October 2010.

I was invited by Marrickville Greens to go to watch the magnificent Lemon Scented Gum street tree in Cambridge Street Stanmore being chopped down by Marrickville Council.  For various reasons I declined, but I know I did not want this image imprinted on my memory.  I have come to love this tree & I am distressed about its loss.  To me, it was no ordinary street tree.

Marrickville LGA has some gorgeous trees, mostly in parks, though there are also good ones that are street trees.  However, we have thousands of butchered, stumpy & not good-looking street trees all over the LGA & it is noticeable if you look.

I think many of us have become desensitised to the ugliness of our street trees because their disintegration happens over time & we just get used to seeing them in this poor condition.  Leave the LGA & you immediately notice the differences.

This magnificent street tree is gone

The Lemon Scented Gum in Cambridge Street Stanmore was one of the better-looking street trees in the whole LGA & this is not an exaggeration.  Do I think this because I like Gums?  Yes & no.  I do like Gum trees, but I also like most other trees.  I am an all-round tree lover though I admit to preferring tall stature trees & especially trees which flower & provide food for insects, birds & animals.

I think it is necessary in an urban environment to think about wildlife when choosing trees to plant.  I also think we have a duty to provide food for these creatures who are losing more & more food resources every year.  If you don’t believe me, put out a birdbath in a safe place in your garden & watch how long it takes for birds to arrive.  They are short of water as well.  When we built a fishpond, the rare frogs of the area arrived within 2 days & there wasn’t other ponds around.  Where did they come from, we wondered.  If you plant flowering trees & shrubs that feed birds, they will come in droves & the air will be filled with birdcalls.

So for a tree of this magnitude to be cut down seems ridiculous to me.  The tree provided refuge for both wildlife & humans because it was a flowering native tree & its canopy significantly cooled the air in the street.  This is not a feeling I am used to when I walk the streets of my local area.  Mostly I cannot walk during the day because the streets are so hot with the heat reflected by the road & concrete.  I believe that as temperatures rise due to global warming, the heat island effect is going to get worse & we are going to bake.  City of Sydney Council recognises this & intends to plant 10,000 more trees in the CBD this year to counteract the heat.

I am aware the residents who wanted the tree removed said it was causing cracking to their house & Council felt hamstrung because of the potential of litigation.  However, because we do not have a Significant Tree Register, our public trees are vulnerable.  Cracking to houses can always be repaired & it is something we should expect when we live in 100 year old houses, which are built on clay soils & with poor quality mortar.  In fact, even renovated houses in the Inner West need regular work as they are always deteriorating.  It comes with the territory. That’s why many people prefer to live in modern units or project homes that are built on cement slabs.  As a norm, tree roots are not strong enough to lift a concrete slab.

Ordinary street in Chatswood with multiple large street trees- a very different outlook to our LGA

When we respect trees & fully appreciate their positive impact on our lives &  vital role in our civilization’s existence, if atmospheric levels of CO2 continue to rise as expected, then we will do everything we can to keep our mature trees that sequester large amounts of CO2.

The removal of this tree affects the whole community, not just the residents of Cambridge Street.  First is it one tree, then another tree & so on.  Before we know it, the whole streetscape is changed & not for the better.  It took 40 years for that tree to grow a 2.5 metre girth & it had at least another 60 years of life left in it.  Eucalypts often live 100 years or more.  All it took was 4 ½ hours for it to be gone.

The Marrickville Greens tried to get a stay of execution to try other methods to repair the cracking & fix the problem at ground level. The Labor & Independent Councillors had to power to grant this so that amelioration could be tried to give the tree a chance to be saved.  I would have conceded defeat if all avenues had been tried & agreed the tree needed be removed, but these avenues weren’t given a chance.   I am sure the Greens feel the same as I do.  This tree was also worth a lot of money to the community & especially to Cambridge Street.  Better to sell a house before a tree is cut down than after.

Our tree assets get voted out because of concrete, their particular species, because they are old, because, because, because.  I have not yet seen tree saving strategies voted in during council meetings, only the opposite.  Trees are seen as a nuisance & a liability.  The reality is: not having trees is a liability.

I will work with Labor & the Independents as well as the Greens if they are pro-trees & the greening of Marrickville LGA.  However, since I have started, I have noticed that support for my vision comes from the Greens & not from Labor or the Independents.  To be fair, Labor did reverse their decision over the Mackey Park Figs, but not until after a community protest of 300 people & an even larger petition.

Once again, regarding the Cambridge Street tree, the Greens voted to keep the tree.  Once again, the vote to remove the tree comes from the other counsellors.  Is it a pattern? Saving Our Trees hasn’t been alive long enough to be able to answer this question.

Frankly I was shocked when I read on the Greens website that:  Independent Councillor Dimitrios Thanos recently emailed Councillors & staff saying: “I’ll grab my chainsaw & meet the staff down there on the appointed day.” I just know he & I are not on the same page when it comes to trees.

Getting back to my intro, I didn’t want to go & watch the ‘Elle McPherson of trees’ be chopped down, but the Marrickville Greens did witness this.  You can read their posts about this tree –’s-biggest-eucalypt-to-the-chainsaw/ & you can also view 2 photos taken today by the Greens at – & &

The Cambridge Street Stanmore Lemon Scented Gum tree is going to be chopped down soon.  I feel very sad about this.  During the Council meeting to decide the fate of this tree, the people who wanted this tree removed spoke about a large branch that fell on the street needing 2 people to carry it away.  The danger the tree posed from falling branches would have been one of the major factors why their request was granted.

Gum street tree in Petersham - 2 Currawongs have a nest in this tree

Gums trees do drop dead branches as a normal feature of their species.  Unfortunately, I think this is the reason why Marrickville Council appears not to not regard Eucalypts favourably.  Then include the fact that they grow tall & have a significant canopy.  In comparison to the usual street trees Council plants, Eucalypts are an anomaly.  I would guess the Gums are left over from the 1970s & before.

Suburbs like Petersham which have a lot of Eucalypts as street trees look fabulous as a result.  Everyone I have spoken to in this area always mentions the trees, most saying they were a major reason why they chose to buy in Petersham.  However, the Cambridge Street issue is likely to repeat itself for two reasons unless these are managed.

Firstly, building movement that causes cracking.  The Inner West is mostly clay soils & when there is drought (we have had a long one which is still continuing) the clay soils shrink. This results in movement of buildings & cracks to the walls, porches & paths, especially as most of the housing is 100 years old & the mortar used then was of very poor quality.

Roots of mature trees would have stopped growing years, perhaps decades ago. Often the tree has nothing to do with movement.  Arborists constantly have differing opinions about the impact of tree roots on house foundations.  Personally, I think it is too easy to blame the tree.

This Gum street tree in Brighton St Petersham deserves a medal for surviving pruning by Energy Australia for power lines

Even buildings that do not have a street tree out front can suffer from movement & cracking, especially during drought.  If your property is built on clay soil, removing most or all the trees on or around your property is unlikely to prevent further house movement.  It is a fact of life in the Inner West.

To minimize cracking to your house during drought, you need to water thoroughly along the exterior walls on a regular basis.  If you keep the soil moist, the clay will not shrink & your foundations are less likely to move.  Many people have concreted their yards, so they will definitely have house movement & cracking, drought or no drought.  If you already have cracking, you can assist by watering around the building to get the moisture back into the soil.  Our front door, which had started sticking, returned to normal 2 months after I recommenced watering our front garden.  I have written more fully about clay soils in the following post –

Managing dry clay soils does take time & patience.

Secondly, Eucalypts develop dead branches, which they shed as a normal feature of their development.  This does not make the species dangerous.  The process of the branch dying off until it eventually drops is not a quick one.  I have been watching trees with dead branches for 12 months now.  (It’s been one of my ‘must do posts’ which hasn’t happened until now.)  However, Gums are called ‘widow makers’ for a reason. A falling branch can kill a person if they drop on their head, but then again, so can most things that drop from a height.  I was young when I first heard the term ‘widow maker’ & I remember being told the following with much laughter:

The tree branch is dying over many months, sometimes years.  The wife asks the husband to do something about it.  Time moves on.  She nags & nags, but he watches footy & says he will prune the branch later.  Then, one day when he is mowing or something, the dirty big branch falls on his head & the wife is left a widow. The moral of the story is that men should do what their wife asks when she asks it to be done, husbands are lazy & her nagging is warranted.

Maybe you had to be there & times have changed.  The story made a big impact on me because ever since I have a keen eye to notice these branches.

This tree cnr Illawarra & Addison Rds has multiple dead branches. 3 other Gums further down towards Marrickville Rd also have dead branches

Whether or not Council should be responsible for checking trees for dying branches is not something I have an opinion about.  However, I do think we see the street trees in our neighbourhood almost daily & if we notice a tree branch is dying, a quick call or e-mail to Council should have the branch pruned before it becomes a problem & drops.

If we leave it until the branch drops, Council is likely to say the tree is dangerous & needs to be removed.  Then the community suffers another loss of a tree & eventually we lose all remaining Eucalypts & other tall trees.  Our suburbs suffer as a result because we lose the beauty that tall trees offer.  We also lose out on property values because great street trees have a surprising positive impact on local property values.

The street trees near our homes, especially the large ones, remove pollution & particulate matter which causes breathing problems.  They collect CO2 & emit oxygen making the air cleaner & cooler.  They lower temperature which helps lower our power bills, they slow down traffic, make the footpaths safer for pedestrians & generally make people feel happier.  I have written more about the value of trees in the page 100 Tree Facts, which can be located on the left hand column of this site near the top.

Lastly, if Sydney’s North Shore can have hundreds of thousands of Eucalypts as street trees, why can’t Marrickville LGA?  Let’s look after & keep the ones we have left.  They are necessary for our wildlife.



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