Thursday, October 4, 2018

This sort of guff is not helpful

This writer bags Jacarandas for being "all show and no go" (meaning they have pretty flowers for a while but don't provide enough of the most important thing: shade) and then proceeds to list a bunch of species that have pretty flowers but no shade! I think he's more interested in being clever than right TBH. Here's the thing folks: we need BIG, SHADY, LONG-LIVED, DECIDUOUS TREES in our streets. And a key word here is BIG. Why? Because street trees need to shade the actual road surface. Roads are a huge contributor to the Urban Heat Island Effect and must be covered as much as possible. Discussions about pretty flowers and such is just white noise. Trouble is it takes up valuable bandwidth that could be being used to promote sensible discussion.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Yes, the more I think about it...

…we need to change our thoughts about "high maintenance".

Sure, we don't want high maintenance gardens in every suburban park. That would be ridiculous. But in the city itself I mean. Proper gardens.


Just about every city I go to around the world has fountains in its city squares. Even the freezing cold ones!

As I've said before, the proof is in the punters TURNING UP. They congregate in these spaces. And no wonder. They're incredibly restful (compare that to McEnroe Square below).

It's time for a complete re-think on this if we truly want people to gather in our city. There's something about beautifully ordered and maintained gardens that is so peaceful. The very orderliness of them soothes you. It feels like everything is under control - even if out in the world it's a bit chaotic.

And water is a no-brainer. We're a hot, dry climate. Splashing water is an incredible luxury and a people-magnet like no other. Yes, fountains require some maintenance. Let's stop considering that a cost and choose to consider it an investment in our well-being.

New York is the model here. In the 1970's the place was a ghost town in terms of its public places. Now they're packed. All day every day. Because they are stunningly beautiful. True sanctuaries in a "hostile" environment.

Investment, not cost.

You know it makes sense...

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Speaking of gardens in public places...

Read this and get inspired.

As the blurb says:

"Lynden Miller proves that beautiful public spaces, planted and maintained to high standards, have the power to transform the way people behave and feel about their cities".

And as she herself says:

"Make it gorgeous and they will come, keep it that way and they will help!".

Amen, sister. Can you come to Perth and talk to us? Seriously, Councils, get together and pay for her to come. She will show you how to utilise private money to create the public open space the public wants. And she can show you how to get all the players on board. Do it while you can. She 'aint no spring chicken no more ;)  But I bet she'd be up for it. Clearly she's not the sort to shirk a challenge - nor take "no" for an answer (!)

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

We need more HIGH maintenance POS dammit!

I'm currently reading "Head Gardeners" and am convinced: we need proper gardens in our public places. Sure they involve lots of maintenance. SO WHAT? Let's (as a community) pay the price. The payoff in terms of our collective wellbeing is huge. Definitely worth the money. I know I bang on it about it plenty, but Bryant Park in New York is the best example I've seen. We should just flat out copy it. Why not? It WORKS (dammit).

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

McEnroe Square (Part 3)

The problems really began when it was decided to call it Yagan Square. 

It's a bit like dedicating 50 Shades of Grey To Shakespeare.

The fact is we've already completely desecrated Yagan's land by building a concrete city all over it. Naming a little pocket of that concrete after him is a bit insulting really. Far better to dedicate a natural area to him and place that (rather magnificent) statue of him in it.

Once you name the place Yagan Square, you also have to plant accordingly. You can't use Planes and Liquidambars - you know, things that actually work - and instead have to resort to silly choices like WA Peppermint. I love WA Peppermints by the way - just not growing out of concrete.

Anyway, well-meaning perhaps, but wrong.

The irony is, Yagan himself wouldn't even be pleased with it.

Monday, August 27, 2018

McEnroe Square (Part 2)

"Once a jolly swagman camped in the spinifex, out in the open where nothing else grew…"

Of course it doesn't say that, does it?

It says "once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong, under the shade of a Coolibah tree"

It's not rocket science:

Water + Trees = Place where humans want to be.

Even a jolly swagman can get it.

Photo by Emma Young

Sunday, August 26, 2018

McEnroe Square

That's what I think we should rename Yagan Square. 

Because my first reaction on seeing it was:


Wow. So this is the best we can do. Wide open expanses of paving with no shade.

If you can't plant trees - and sometimes you can't due to lack of soil depth - you MUST at least provide shade artificially. Who in their right mind would want to be anywhere near this place in Perth's summer?

Or autumn, spring or winter for that matter.

Millions of dollars spent here for no result.

The really sad thing is that this is the new norm for public places in Perth.

We just don't get it.

No, really, we don't.