Sunday, April 10, 2016

Re-think required?

Here in Woolwich St, West Leederville, the council is planting Queensland Box trees (Lophostemon confertus) to keep the existing theme going. Up until now I would have said "bad idea" given our drying climate. But is it?

David Callow at the City of Melbourne recently pointed out to me that trees are generally more temperature-sensitive than rainfall-sensitive* so maybe, just maybe, Queensland Box will handle our drying conditions better than I think?

Sure, there are a lot of them dying around Perth at present, but that's probably more to do with people turning off their irrigation than a lack of drought tolerance per sePerhaps specimens that have never had irrigation will do OK in a hotter, drier climate? There are certainly examples around town of healthy, mature Box in verges that have clearly never been watered. Maybe they'll prove tougher than I give them credit for?

Some more thought needed on this I think. But if this species really will tolerate our drying climate, it needs to be on The List**.

* This was definitely news to me. I would have put it the other way round for sure. But I checked with my tree guru here in Perth who confirmed it. (Sorry David, never doubted you for a minute - well, maybe for a minute :))

** Yes, they're "messy". It's a tree, it's what they do. I think we have to get used to that and start designing our verges and gardens to accommodate "mess" rather than forgo a tree which could otherwise tick all the boxes. Besides, if you design right, the "mess" actually becomes an asset: free mulch!

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