Tuesday, December 11, 2018

City of Melbourne: light years ahead

If you're in Parks and Gardens here in Perth - and more particularly, tree management - you really must get to Melbourne City Council and look at how they manage their urban forest. It's quite staggering how far ahead of us they are. There's too much to try and detail here - just make the effort and go. I emailed them this morning and suggested they run courses for local governments who want to get it right in this space. They would sell out each year I'm sure. Could be a nice little earner for them, a great learning experience for the rest of us and the salvation of many trees around Australia.

Monday, December 3, 2018

No such thing as a messy tree (2)

Someone at Claremont contacted me to defend their new policy

He said the council was in fact "very passionate about trees".

"Sorry," I said, "people who are passionate about trees don't allow rich people to cut down healthy ones just because they're messy. It's bad policy and needs to be called out as such."


Monday, November 26, 2018

No such thing as a messy tree

Post Newspapers reports that the Town of Claremont now allows people to chop down healthy Queensland Box trees if they're prepared to pay all costs.

Here's my letter to the paper in response:

"There's no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing" the saying goes.

Same deal with trees. There's no such thing as a messy tree, just an inappropriate ground treatment beneath it.

If you have lawn, sure, a tree "makes a mess". If you have mulch, however, the tree is daily topping it up for you - for free!

Don't chop down your Box trees, Claremont, change your verge treatments. The days of cutting down healthy trees for such trivial reasons are over.

As a community we need to draw a line in the sand and say  "the trees are staying, it's us who has to change".

I truly thought we had advanced beyond such silliness. Clearly not.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Why we shouldn't build any more public transport infrastructure

Because it's all been built. 

It's called the road network. And it already goes door to door. That's the problem of course with rail and bus: you have to get to a station / bus stop so you often drive there!

But where are the actual public transport vehicles on this door to door road network, you ask? They're coming. They're called autonomous cars. They are going to be so sophisticated and so safe that many of us will abandon private car ownership completely. A fleet of autonomous cars - either government or privately owned - will constantly circulate the road network, available on demand to go wherever we want. Door to door. Traffic congestion will ease considerably because fewer of us will own cars. Look at all the private cars that currently spend the majority of their lives parked up somewhere. Not any more. If a car exists, it will be moving. There's nothing new in this. It's how air transport operates already. Planes basically never stop except for servicing and repairs.

Don't build Metronet yet, state government. It could become a massive white elephant. We should wait and watch. Things are changing fast...

Sunday, October 28, 2018

The Cottiwobbles (Part 2)

After reading my post below a councillor from Cottesloe contacted me. 

Councillor: "With the trees so close to the awnings, won't we have 'half' Plane trees as the part of the canopy close to the awnings will need to be pruned off to prevent damage to the awnings and the buildings?"

Me: "Yes. And that's exactly what will be done in Claremont: "fan-shaped, half trees" over the road. However, once they're covering the road you're not aware of the half shape because your "inside the dome" so to speak. You need to stop thinking of them as trees and see them as green infrastructure, manipulated to serve a very specific purpose: put canopy over the road. If you're not prepared to do this you have small, half-assed trees again and the street will remain hot and exposed."

Important note: for this to work, you have to plant at close spacings so the trees form a continuum. If you don't, you will always be able to see the individual half-shape trees and the effect will be lost. Again, check out Bayview Tce in Claremont. At present the trees look too closely spaced but patience, Grasshopper, patience. When it finally comes together and forms a "green pergola" over the street, all will become clear ;)

Saturday, October 27, 2018

The Cottiwobbles

The Town of Cottesloe is suffering from them over which trees to plant in its main street. 

The Claret Ash (Fraxinus "Raywood") they put in years ago have (predictably) done very little. Council wants to pull them out and this time put in something that works. The local traders are itching for it too. 

So what's the problem?

A belief that there is the perfect tree. 

There isn't. Every tree you choose will have issues and every tree you choose will have detractors. Whatever you put in, someone is going to give it to you in the neck.

What to do?

Choose the tree that has been tried and true in this exact application in cities around the world for centuries: the London Plane. Go have a look at Bayview Tce in Claremont. Don't you want Napoleon St to look like this? I mean, who wouldn't.

Yes, the hand-wringers will come out of the woodwork: 

"They're not native…"

"They won't attract birds…"

"They'll cause allergy problems…"

"They'll create too much mess…"

"They'll grow too big…"

"Everyone uses them, we want something different…"


London Plane is hands-down the best solution for your problem.

In fact they are the only tree that will do the job required.

And the "issues" with them are all solvable*.

There's a reason this is the mostly widely used street tree in the world:


If anyone thinks he/she has an alternative, send them here to this blog. I'll happily discuss why their choice isn't as good. Arrogance? No. Thirty years experience growing and managing trees in these very situations RIGHT HERE IN PERTH.

It's time to be brave, councillors. Get it wrong again and you'll waste another ten years. Choose a tree that you know will work: the bullet-proof, fast-growing, long-lived, uniform, deciduous and undeniably beautiful London Plane (Platanus X acerifoilia).

And here's another tip: get Rob Bodenstaff from Arbor Centre to consult on (a) the sourcing of the trees and (b) the ground preparation. No-one in Perth does it better. Again, go check out Bayview Tce in Claremont. We did everything Rob said (to the letter) on that job and look at the result after only a few years. Can you imagine how good this street is going to look when these trees actually form a canopy over it? It will be the envy of Perth. Unless of course Cottesloe does the same. Then we'll have to share that honour :)

I had to fight off constant criticism over my choice of London Plane for Bayview Tce. Every possible problem was going to happen. I think the sky was even going to fall in. I had to hold my ground. So will you. But your children and their children (and probably theirs) will thank you for it.


One final thought…

As I said, you're going to get it in the neck from someone/some group no matter what tree you put in. The worst possible outcome would be getting it in the neck AND having poorly performing trees once again!! At least with Planes you'll be getting it in the neck while the trees shoot for the sky and clothe your street in green!

I reckon you can live with that :)

And so will the doubters when your street looks fantastic.

If you can find them by then…

* Mostly it just comes down to doing daily sweeping - gets rid of the leaves and those hairs that can cause some people grief. That and a commitment to formative pruning to keep them within their pre-determined spatial boundaries. Too much maintenance? How much do you value creating a world class Napoleon St? You can have a low maintenance strip or you can have a good strip. Your choice ;)

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.