Tree fashions 7.2.2011


This is a photo of one of my favourite trees: the Agonis flexuosa  or Western Australian willow myrtle.

These trees line some of the streets fifteen minutes’ walk from where I live. They have the most beautiful-smelling leaves.  It occurred to me recently that they seem to be completely out of fashion with tree managers and this strikes me as a sad thing. If anyone knows why this would be, I’d love to know.

According to Ryde Council’s street tree identification manual, they grow to 6-8metres tall with a spread that’s the same and that they can be pruned to grow safely under power lines.

Hamilton South has a couple of streets with decades-old agonises/agones/agonii (help?) for several blocks and there are some jarring spaces where I presume something has happened to the original trees. Unfortunately they’ve been replaced with golden robinias and Chinese tallow trees. Why they wouldn’t be replaced with new agonis is beyond me.

I’ve written before about the problems of tallow trees in Florida and in northern NSW [you can see a page here mentioning the places on the north coast where these have to be ‘fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed’]and I wonder how long it will be before we start banning them here, regretting how popular they’ve become.

Robinias cop a mention in ‘Weeds Australia’ because of their suckering. We removed a young one from our yard ten years ago and we still have suckers coming up. Their thorns are something to behold.

 I’ve finally written to council to find out when the Street Tree Masterplan will be available. It was originally allocated funds in the 2008-2009 budget. $200 000. You read that right. 

It’ll be interesting to see what species have been chosen – although there has been such a wonderful number of trees put in over the last year or so that there shouldn’t be any surprises.

Lots of Norfolk Island pines have been planted in beachside suburbs to complement and presumably one day replace the trees that are already there.

Sadly, some of them don’t look very well. I wonder if this has anything to do with the diseased state of these trees along Hannell Street – help was sought from Sydney Botanical Gardens with this. I haven’t seen any updates on this but some of the trees look as though they’re about to be removed: the tell-tale orange plastic ribbon has appeared.

And another piece of news on Norfolk Island pines: Council planted some in front of Fort Scratchley and were apparently guilty of not knowing how tall they would grow. 

I’d love to be able to identify some of the eucalyptus-looking things that are being put in around town. (Please let them not be brush box if they’re under power lines: these trees look like QRAP when they’re pruned.)

 There’s a CD available called Euclid which is the last word in identifying the almost 900 types of eucalypt.

It occurred to me how successful Newcastle City Council’s street tree choices are because it’s so uncommon to see tree losses (apart from the deliberate ones). And apart from the pear trees the choices seem to be pleasing: the type of pear tree We seem to like is sadly so skinny and  upright as to be useless in terms of shade, and the trees pretend to be a perfect symmetrical shape but never are: they look as though they’ve been pruned badly but presumably haven’t  – we need messier, less pretentious trees than this.

Bring back the Agonis.  Home


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