I was delighted to meet David Callow, Senior Urban Forester at the City of Melbourne after his presentation on what the City's doing to diversify Melbourne's urban forest.
David showed us the trees he's planning to plant into the Melbourne CBD and there were some really exciting choices. Here's a few of the ones that particularly made me sit up and take notice…
Lemon-scented gum (Corymbia citriodora)
Yep, no typo! Of course, I had to ask David the question. His response was interesting. Firstly, the trees will be carefully managed so that limb-shedding is minimised*. Secondly, David felt this species has probably been given a bit of an unfair rap due to some less-than-desirable forms of it being used back in the day. I definitely want to talk some more about this when I (hopefully) catch up with him again in March, but right now I just love the boldness of it. This is without question one of the most beautiful Eucalypts / Corymbias of all (the most in my opinion) and it's going to look stunning in the heart of Melbourne.
Camphor Laurel (Cinnamomum camphora)
Another inspired choice. And again, I've had to lift my sights a bit here. Some of us have been a bit gun-shy with this species due to the enormously wide trunks they can develop after many years but David wasn't unduly concerned. Firstly, he said, they probably won't get like that in the concrete confines of the CBD and secondly, even if they do, you deal with it! I reckon he's right. We need diversity and as I said in this post, that means we probably have to start being a little less precious about some of these things from now on.
Moreton Bay Fig (Ficus macrophylla) and Port Jackson Fig (Ficus rubiginosa)
Yes! I lamented here that we no longer plant these anywhere in Perth and here's Melbourne about to whack them in their CBD! Brilliant. And yes, of course they will have thought about root damage and planned for it. That's another one of the things I'm hoping to get some details about in March.
Brazillian Pepper (Schinus molle 'Areira')
Again, inspired choice. I've secretly admired this tree for a long time but have been afraid to admit it! It fits into the category of "good do-er" that's for sure. Unfortunately, us Parks folks have probably tended to tar it with the same brush as it's unsociable cousin, the Japanese Pepper (Schinus terebinthifolius) but of course that's an unfair association as they're totally different beasts.
David's list also included the usual deciduous trees - Planes, Elms, Oaks, Liquidambar, Ash and so on - but I just loved this bold use of some large evergreens that many of us long ago put in the "too hard" basket. Good on you Melbourne, you've inspired me.
* A local VEAP (Very Experienced Arbor Person) also added that this species is virtually trouble-free for the first 30 years of it's life and only starts to need more intensive management after that. That's not a bad return I reckon.