Friday, March 16, 2018

My day

I ride The White Knight to "the farm"...

… and plant these beautiful Tipuana trees (ten of them altogether).

Then I go home and tell Lou how much fun I had and how much good it will be doing the planet.

"Right" he yawns and goes off to sleep.


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Green deserts?

I was reflecting some more on my post (below) about public open space never being more than a couple of blocks away in Perth.

It's more or less true. But there's still a problem.

And that is that they're empty spaces. More or less.

A local government colleague used to refer to them as "green deserts". Another one agreed but said it didn't matter. "The important thing is that we see them" he said. "That's just as good as being in them".


Why are our parks so under-utilised? Because we all have a "park" in the form of a backyard.

More or less.

But or course the times they are a changin'. Urban infill is coming. At least I hope it is. Because it needs to. It's the key to us becoming an interesting city. Living closer together. You know, being neighbourly and all that. Like the Italians. And the Spanish. It astonishes me how many Aussies don't even know the people who live next door.

This is a bit of a loose ramble, huh? But I think you see what I'm getting at. Something's definitely wrong about empty parks. It says something about us. Exactly what I'm not sure.

Any ideas?

Monday, March 12, 2018

"The harder I work, the luckier I get"

I was listening to ABC radio this morning. Eric Lumsden, Garry Baverstock and someone else were talking about, amongst other things, the importance of planning for parks in a rapidly growing Perth. 

Switch scenes to last week when I dropped my motorcycle in for a service in Carlisle. I never go to Carlisle so I had no idea what was there. But I had a couple of hours to kill so I just headed off in a random direction in the cheerful belief that you're never far from a park in Perth.

I was right. A couple of blocks away I came across a grassy, shady place with benches. I read the motorcycle magazine I'd picked up along the way and, before I knew it, my phone went off. My bike was ready.

We're pretty lucky, huh? Open space abounds in this city.

But the message of this morning's ABC show was that "luck" comes from careful planning.

We mustn't become complacent.

Central Park, New York

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Messy tree? Change what's under it.

At the farm where I manage the extensive formal garden, I decided to plant a row of windbreak trees and shrubs to stop the easterly wind depositing half of Oakford into the garden every summer. 

By the way, for those losing sleep over the garden being an extravagance, rest easy. The owner plans to build a function centre on the site and the garden will eventually become true public open space ;)

Anyway, back to the trees. I told the owner I wanted to use deciduous trees in order to continue getting winter sun into the garden.

"Like what?" she said.

"Like Planes or Liquidambars" I said. "I want BIG, and these two babies are both big AND tough".

Her face fell.

"What's wrong?" I said.

"Hubby grew up in Dalkeith and has sworn he'll never plant another one of those messy trees."

It's a common reaction. I get it all the time. But here's the thing: we call the leaf litter "mess" simply because it's not where we want it. A bit like the term "weed". Any plant that isn't where you want it is, to you, a "weed".

I explained to her that this would be different. The ground under the trees would be mulched, not grass as it is at present, so the trees would in fact be "self-mulching". How good is that? Plus they would be constantly improving the sandy Oakford soil, allowing us to grow all manner of tasty things underneath. All this FOR FREE!!

She got it.

Now to tackle hubby... ;)

This is my own front yard. It used to be wall to wall grass and I wanted extensive tree cover. Obviously not compatible. Solution: no grass. And a much more liveable space. Cha ching. 

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Thankyou Lauren and Kelmed

I received an email of your comments on my post below but for some reason they're not showing up on the blog itself (?)

Lauren: I've looked at Eric King Park on the satellite view of Google Maps. WOW!  Can see already that it too is a rough diamond waiting to be polished. Appears to have a flowing water feature and all(!) I'll definitely schedule a ride to Bunbury soon to check it out. Thanks for the heads up. If you'd like to email me on I'll get back to you once I've had a look at it. Given your family link to it, we will have good leverage in terms of getting the council to agree to / fund an upgrade. I would be happy to do the design work for free if the council funds the actual work.

Kelmed: thanks for the article link. I'm actually having trouble opening it (old browser) but even from the byline I can guess what it's about: that "wise" water use is relative, not absolute. It depends very much on the benefits the water produces. We need to get a bit more sophisticated around this topic in that sense.

Monday, February 19, 2018

This is personal

Since 1982 I've been involved in local government Parks and Gardens. In that time I also did a twelve year stint designing gardens for the luxury home market. You learn a lot doing that. Much more than you realise at the time.

For the last three years I've not done much at all. Partly by choice, partly because the job market doesn't want to know over 50's. Then one day my wife says "you might be interested in this". It was an ad on Gumtree from someone wanting a gardener.

In Oakford.

Normally, I wouldn't bother. For two reasons:

(a) it's a gardener ("I'm above that") and

(b) it's too far from home.

But I couldn't look away. The person had included a picture of their garden and it spoke to me. It was a large, formal Paul Bangay-type garden.


But you see these days I'm about motorcycling so having to ride to a job miles from home wouldn't be a chore, it'd be a bonus! So, sight unseen, I responded to the ad and said "I would LOVE to maintain your garden!" Long story short, I met the owner, showed her my portfolio of design work and she immediately said "yes". I now go there three mornings a week. I get my rides in for the week, she has someone at her garden every second day. We're both happy!

But the thing that has really surprised me is how much I actually love the work. The garden is a magnificent "rough diamond" just waiting to be cut and polished. The owner has significant resources and any improvements I want to make she approves. Happy days :) We've decided to aim for entering it in the 2019 Open Garden Scheme. By then it will be pretty nice but, God-willing, by 2028 it will be the finest garden in Perth. No empty boast here. It WILL. There will be nothing else like it.

The point of me telling you all this is because I want to encourage you to do something:


Don't let the "that's beneath you" voice win. Bollocks to that. ALL work is honourable (well, some clearly isn't, but you know what I mean). When you're doing the thing that you would do for free, you know you've found your thing. It doesn't have to make sense to anyone else, only to you. How do you find this "thing"? You learn to listen. As you go along in life, a little voice will frequently be telling you "I like this" but mostly it gets drowned out by "it's beneath you" or "it's not practical". You have to learn to hear "I like this and latch on to it. Follow it. Dismiss the loud, know-it-all "it's not practical" voice and follow the gentle, quiet one instead. Seriously, do this assiduously and something will happen. It takes a bit of courage though. I didn't do it for a long time because of what others might think. Then one day I realised that others don't think (about me). They're too busy worrying about what others think of them!. In that day I became free. And I'm here to tell ya folks, it feels pretty damn good. This blog has ultimately just been a cause for frustration. I haven't been able to produce the change I want to see. But on "the farm" (that's what I call the garden), I can MAKE the changes happen. In at least one small corner of the planet, I can create the world I want to see.