Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Compare the pair (3)

These shots were taken from the same spot in Chelmsford Rd, Mt Lawley. In the first I'm facing west, then I turn 180 degrees and shoot to the east. These pictures tell the story of what's happened in the Parks and Gardens industry over the last half century.

In the west picture the trees are big. They dominate the streetscape. They frame it beautifully and shade the road and footpaths. Granted, you might not use these exact species in a narrow street these days - Lemon-scented gum (Eucalyptus citriodora), Hill's Fig (Ficus hillii) and Camphor Laurel (Cinnamomum camphora) - BUT we should be using something big like this.

The trees in the east shot are Chinese Tallow (Sapium sebiferum) and no, they're not young ones. The thickness of the trunks at ground level indicate they've been in for years. In other words, this is pretty much as good as they're going to get.

So, what's the story these shots tell?  A trend to timidity. Parks and Gardens folks have learned to "play it safe" instead of "playing to win". I've been in the industry for 33 years and have seen this gradual change occur. The reality however is that timidity never created a good streetscape. Never has, never will. We need to get back to putting big trees in our streets. And we have to sell the message that, yes, big trees lift a bit of kerb or footpath - we'll repair it. Yes, big trees create more leaf litter - we'll sweep it. Yes, big trees present higher limb failure risk - we'll manage it.

There's too much at stake to keep going the way we're going. We must reduce our heat island effect and that means shading our roads. Only big trees are going to do that. We must get people out walking instead of driving. They won't do it unless their footpaths are shaded. Only big trees are going to do that.

Time to quit "timid", folks. Time to get bold once again!

Chelmsford Rd, Mt Lawley (facing west) - click to enlarge

Chelmsford Rd, Mt Lawley (facing east) - click to enlarge

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