Monday, January 15, 2018

Pack 'em in

What does a bloke do when he's jaded from looking at poor tree plantings around town?

He buys a shiny new motorcycle.

And forms a blues band.

True story.

But he also concentrates on where he CAN make a difference: his own backyard.


I just planted five beautiful Poinciana trees* into my back lawn.

That's five trees at 4m spacings.

Yes, four metres.

Why not? They will grow into a living pergola which will shade my lawn in summer (it's Kikuyu, it will still grow under there) and, being semi-deciduous, will still allow the grass to grow in winter. Everyone's a winner!

Including David's Garden Centre in High Wycombe where I bought them. If you're a Perth local, check him out. Best nursery in town in my opinion. Always got the stuff I want. Always great quality (he's been doing it for 35 years), always good prices.

Just don't start talking to him about restoring old GT Falcons and GTS Monaros. Unless you're interested of course like me ;)

* When I was ringing around to source the trees, I rang a major supplier (who shall remain nameless other than to say their name starts with "B" and ends with "A" and has "enar" in the middle) and was told very confidently by the person on the other end that "they're not really suitable for Perth". WRONG! They are perfectly suitable for Perth. The Hills too, although admittedly frosts will knock 'em around a bit up there when they're young. There are so many experts when it comes to trees. Sadly, "experts" who have often listened to a lot of hearsay but haven't actually served time in the trenches where the real lessons are learned.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

I hear ya, Lou

This is my dog Lou. I don't know what's eating him but I do know how he feels. It's how I feel if I look at tree plantings around my city when I go out.

So I don't look. I deliberately keep my eyes up. Wrong trees, wrong spacings, wrong planting techniques, wrong maintenance. Perth councils are throwing money away and nobody is holding them to account.

I know I've written a lot about this and vowed I wouldn't any more, but sometimes it just comes out.

I've given Parks managers a hard time about it too and they haven't appreciated it. I don't blame them. Who wants to hear it? But you have to hear it folks. You're not doing your job properly.

But you know what? I'm changing my thoughts on that. Yes, those guys have definitely dropped the ball - BUT, who's really responsible? The councils themselves. The elected members. I've emailed pretty much all of them in Perth and do you think any are prepared to take it on? I suspect a couple have tried but got snowed. I know what happens - I used to "snow" myself sometimes. Not about this issue but other ones. We all do it to some extent to protect our asses, right?

The big question for me is whether to go in to bat again and try and force change. I know how to do it: (a) obtain the planting data from each council, (b) keep tabs on their failure rates, (c) create a league ladder of performance and (d) publish it. A bit like the schools league ladder. It would make me about as popular as bacon at a bar-mitzvah but part of me thinks "well, I'm already on the nose, what's to lose?". But then another part of me says "meh, ride your bike, play your music, enjoy your life". And I must admit that part's winning at present. I keep my eyes up and ignore what's there.
Kinda sad really.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

"Save water elsewhere"

This is one of the best pieces of advice I got from an old boss.

He was referring to CBD gardens.

"Save water on your parks, not in the CBD. We need gardens in the city and gardens need water." 

Like this one.

It's a tiny public garden right in the heart of Manhattan. The busy traffic was literally 10m away to the left but what a sanctuary for city workers to come in their lunch breaks and chill out.

Cities are man-made things that need inputs to keep going.

So are/do gardens.

Water them.

Save your water elsewhere.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Where are they now?

I'm talking about the opponents of the hugely popular Hilarys Boat Harbour development (scroll halfway down the article).

Coastal POS can be so much more than this

Or the now booming City Beach surf club / cafe development.

There should be a new rule in Perth:

If you're going to oppose/harass/obstruct a development, you're not allowed to use it once it's built. 

It's about to happen again in Scarborough.

When are we going to learn?

Everyone wants to go to heaven but no-one wants to die.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Suffering in silence

In Perth we have an abundance of this fantastic public open space but we're not getting the most out of it.

Because we don't provide shelters that let people get out of the wind

It's not hard. You just put slats on the south and (partial) west sides of your structures. 

It's incredibly effective. Check out the ones at Trigg beach to see what I mean.

The beach visit becomes a whole new experience.

Pleasant :)

I should explain

Reader Ben was asking after the "Trees for Perth" list. I still have all the posts from when the blog was called Perth Street Tree but I'll 'fess up: I tried to improve the look of the blog and made such a pig's ear of it I had to archive all the material and start afresh(!) So, like Ben, if there's anything you particularly want, just email me at and I'll send it to you. Maybe one day I'll get around to sorting out the mess I made and put all the posts up again :)

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Become the tree

Some people get upset when I critique how they're managing their trees. I think that's the wrong reaction. 

If what I've said is wrong, attest to the wrong.

But no-one ever does.

And that's because when it comes to trees I know what I'm talking about.

That's not a boast, it's the truth. I've spent my entire working life (35years) growing them. I know what works and what doesn't.

In Perth.

In this unforgiving sand and heat.

One of the most important things I did in 1982 (apart from get married :)) was walk into the City of Nedlands and ask for a job. The Manager Parks and Gardens there was a man called Jim Elliot. He said to me "go and get your truck licence and I'll give you a job".

So I did.

And he did.

And that was important because it was Jim who taught me to have a feel for trees. You see, growing them is a craft, an art. You have to empathise with them. You have to become them.

Sadly, Big Jim isn't too well these days. His body is letting him down. But he still has that burning in his soul to do the right thing by his trees.

I'm just forever grateful he put it in me too.