Wednesday, June 28, 2017

For the record

There's been a bit of activity in the comments section of this post.

Let's be clear here: I'm not saying don't plant indigenous trees. Of course we should. They're wonderful. I'm just saying don't plant them where they're gonna fail… ie "landscaped" areas. Plant them into remnant bushland / reveg areas where conditions are still pretty close to what they're used to (minus the weeds I suppose).

Advocating the use of local indigenous species in the typical urban/suburban street verge is misguided. Apart from them not doing well, they're too small. They don't provide the canopy cover we need to shade our roads. Tuarts might be an exception - there's always an exception - but overwhelmingly the principle holds: introduced species are far better at doing the job an urban street tree is required to do.

If you're interested, read the Town of Claremont Street Tree Masterplan pre-amble I wrote some years ago. At least look at the section "How do we decide what species to use?" as it pretty much tells the story.

PS…maybe I should chuck in a bit here about my background for those who aren't familiar. I started in Parks and Gardens at the City of Nedlands back in 1982 so I've been selecting, planting, maintaining and watching trees in Perth's verges, parks and bush reserves for 35 years now. I've seen what works (and what doesn't) over the long haul. 

PPS….I'm also aware that some of the subscribers to this blog have been in the (Parks) caper even longer than I have but I'm pretty confident their experience (and views) would align with mine on this. Put it this way: they're not throwing molotov cocktails at my house. Always a good sign :)


  1. Trying to select a couple of 'council supplied' verge trees from Town of Nedlands...would like one that blocks the neighbours across a little, so a bit fuller and then something to grow big and beautiful (across on one side we have beautiful big eucalypts). Considering the agonis flexuosa, bauhinia blakeana, metrosideros excelsa and delonix regia. I wouldlike tomake a choice that is suitable for our wildlife (either provides for them or does not attract problem species such as lorrikeets). What do you think??

    1. For the medium tree I would go with either the Agonis (WA Peppermint) or the Delonix (Poinciana). And then it would come down to whether you want deciduous or not - ie winter sun. If you do, go with the Delonix. The Bauhinia is probably a bit too small for what you want and the Metrosideros (NZ Xmas Tree) is just kinda blah. Not much to recommend it. Unless of course you live on the side of a cliff facing the Atlantic ocean and regularly experience force ten gales. Then it's your perfect choice :)

      For the large Eucalypt I would go either Tuart or Lemon-scented Gum. And no, Lemon-scented Gum is NOT the disaster everyone thinks. They're perfectly fine and in my opinion just about the most beautiful large Eucalypt of all. Tuart is also a good, strong tree but doesn't have the sexy looks (I know, I know, "beauty" is in the eye of the beholder). Given that you're in Nedlands I would probably go the Lemon-scented. Tuarts are perhaps best kept for areas that really can't grow any other type of large Euc…ie coastal areas.

    2. Thanks so much! I'd like to plant closer than recommended (Agonis spacing 12m by council). Don't really need/want a deciduous as not in a position that they would block our sun. The lemon scented gum is not on the list but Corymbia ficifolia and Corymbia eximia. Angophora costata is another that may be suitable. Otherwise maybe I'll just plant an olive tree (not on their list, of course!). We're in Mt Claremont.

    3. I'd encourage you to plant a big tree if you have the room. Corymbia ficifolia (WA Red Flowering Gum) is nice but too small unless you're restricted by overhead wires or whatever. Not familiar with Corymbia eximia but did a quick look up and it said it grows as "a gnarled tree". Hmm…not sounding great aesthetically(?)

      Angophora costata (Sydney Red Gum) is an excellent choice for a large tree in Perth. Handsome, reliable and structurally sound. Can get very tall and straight though over the long haul - make sure you've got the room.

      If you want olives, or you just don't have much space, sure, plant an olive tree. But if you've got room to create some real canopy, why not go bigger? See my list of recommended trees for Perth on this blog. Type "Trees for Perth" into the search box at the top left of this page and it should come up.

      Finally, being an ex-Parks guy myself, I would encourage you to stick with the trees on the council's list. They may not all be fabulous, but at least they're working to a plan. If everyone just does what they want the streets start to look very hotchpotch and it really diminishes an area. There's "informal" and there's "hotchpotch". Very different things ;)