Monday, August 13, 2018

Hooray (I hope)

A reader contacted me to advise of a new Senior Urban Forest position at the City of Stirling. Good to see urban forest finally getting the recognition and resources it warrants. Hopefully other councils will follow suit. Hopefully also the City of Stirling will now pay more attention to making sure the trees it plants actually get through to maturity. Neglect that and you're kidding yourself.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018


Good to see the old Perth "no" reflex getting challenged and, in this case, beaten. 

The environmental umpire said "nothing to see here" yet local residents apparently knew better.


And that's what the court has found - that you don't own views and you don't own adjacent parkland. They're public assets and the public interest will be served in the use of them.

I don't know why so many Perth people have trouble understanding that their property ends at their fence.

Maybe now they will.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

More "experts"

Now it seems that doctors know about the best trees for our streets.

"Usually native trees are the right decision because it's very rare for people to be allergic to native Western Australian trees"


The fact that natives tick a bunch of boxes that makes them unsuitable as street trees doesn't matter?

I can only hope that no-one will ever "prove conclusively" to the Town of Mosman Park that it is the tree out the front of their house causing their allergies. Because common sense says you can't. A University of Sydney study some years ago basically concluded as such. It decided that the grass pollens in the air are far more likely to be causing allergies than street trees.

This one might come back to bite you Mosman Park I suspect.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Ah, but what SORT of expert are they?

I've been following the machinations of a local council here in Perth as it tries to decide on what tree to use in its main street. 

They consulted one of our top landscape architects.

And one of our top tree nurseries.

But are these the sort of experts they should be talking to?

Not really.

The real experts in this space are the local government Parks and Gardens people. The long-serving ones. They've seen how trees perform in real world situations - ie the streets and parks of Perth. They've lived and breathed the daily management of them for years. They know their quirks. They know which of the horror stories are true and which are just old-wive's tales. They know which really thrive and which simply "do OK".

But do they get consulted?


It's not the market's fault. They don't know about these folks.

Get together guys and establish a public profile. Uncle Sam Perth needs you!

Friday, May 25, 2018

Liked this

A Parks guy read my post below and emailed to say that when people tell him he should only be using local natives to landscape his POS he replies "nah, it's already been done - it's called the bush"


And true.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

The test

There's only one way to measure the success of a piece of POS:


See that P in POS?

It stands for "public".

No public, no success.

Despite the low maintenance.

Despite the low water use.

If no-one uses it, it's a failure.

An expensive failure.

And here in Perth, we've got lots of them.

And we keep building more of them.

Why is this happening?

Because the designers start from maintenance/water use considerations instead of from end-user considerations.

Here's the thing: people want to spend time in spaces like Bryant Park above. Yes, it has significant maintenance attached to it. Yes, it uses water. SO BE IT. Save water elsewhere. Reduce maintenance elsewhere. JUST NOT WHERE WE WANT TO GATHER! We want to see gardens in those spaces. We want to hear splashing fountains in those spaces. We want to sit under shady trees in those spaces. Out of the wind. Out of the sun. IT'S NOT THAT HARD. Look, even those dumb Noo Yawkers can do it! Sorry, New York, you're not dumb. You're very smart actually. Smarter than us anyway - if that's any recommendation.

Now I know people are going to say "but you have to send the right message to the punters". No, we don't. The punters are smarter than you think. They KNOW we have limited access to water. They KNOW we can't afford to have high maintenance landscapes everywhere. But they also understand that you can spoil yourself occasionally! It's a principle we exercise all the time. Like when we eat chocolate or go on a cruise or buy a big TV.  We don't eat chocolate every day and we don't board a ship once a month and we don't put big TV's in every room of the house. We UNDERSTAND that we have to be discerning. But we sure as hell know that we can occasionally have those things and not beat ourselves up for being profligate and environmentally irresponsible! High-profile, CBD Public Open Space is our chance to "spoil ourselves". Look again at Bryant Park. This is the sort of space people want to gather in. It makes them feel special. They know it can't be on every corner, in every park, in every street. THAT WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL AND ENJOYABLE!

There's a vicious circle in the world of POS design. It's a circle that will continue to exist as long as people play not to lose instead of playing to win. Big difference. BIG difference. Think about this folks coz it will take one of you willing to risk everything to break that circle and put Perth on a different path. To date, none of you have been willing to do so. But here's the truth: you have to be ready to fail before you can succeed. You have to be prepared to risk your job and your reputation. When I worked in corporate-land I used to tell my people that you can't do a good job if you're afraid of losing your job. Ponder that. Someone has to break ranks. What's the worst that can happen? You get fired? Sounds like it would be a blessing in that case. You know, they say you shouldn't use CAPS when writing because it's considered "shouting". Well sometimes you gotta shout:


It's like the genius who designs a car that has zero emissions and requires zero servicing. IF NO-ONE WANTS TO BUY ONE, ITS A FAILURE! This is such a self-evident principle I'm astonished we can't grasp it. "The market is always right" the smart investors say. Now they get it.

Righto, back to my motorbike...

Monday, May 7, 2018

"Unhappy Ratepayer" might be onto something

"Unhappy Ratepayer"'s comments in the post below need further comment. 

And the comment is this:


Your property ends at your fence, not your kerb!

I've been saying for years that councils need to take their verges back. They're too good a resource to leave in the hands of individuals.

If Unhappy Ratepayer decides to abandon his/her verge and let it turn into a sandpit I say "GREAT!".

It might start something.