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.

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).