Tag Archives: Trees

Transformation close to home

Meeting with remarkable trees

REMARKABLE TREES is a monthly reflection on the old, the sacred, the mysterious and the poetic.
Although some of our travel distance restrictions have been lifted, when I first put pen to paper for this month’s tree, my best option was to stay close to home.
While wandering around the garden and contemplating on trees as a reflection of life, I noticed a large one previously very much taken for granted, like something you grew up with that became part of your furniture.
It is a Sweet Pittosporum (pittosporum undulatum).
Local from south-eastern Queensland to north-eastern Victoria, sweet pittosporum is considered a pest species in Manningham and neighbouring LGAs.
Despite this, the fine specimen on my parent’s property has been growing for 50 years now.
Over the years, all its offspring have been removed as they can spread rapidly via the digestive tracts of birds who enjoy its berries.
So what is it about sweet pittosporum that suits this particular time?
Adjusting to “COVID life” during the last two years and being a mindfulness meditation practitioner, there has been endless opportunity to reflect on my thoughts and attitude towards others.
Recently in group discussion, we agreed we have felt challenged by vax versus anti-vax, mask versus no mask, those who appear to throw caution to the wind and consequently initiate yet another lockdown, and more recently, protests spattered with anger and violence.
I am quick to disapprove initially, because like many, I am a bit fed up.
Following up with my friends however, I am startled.
Some of them have charged headlong down the conspiracy road.
Others insist on the dangers of vaccination and produce “evidence” to support this.
Some have been abusive because I chose to vaccinate while others who have well-considered their choices and taken responsibility for them could not have been more respectful of my own.
Certainly, life can deliver surprises.
In pondering with the latter friends, we ruminated on attitudes that seem to be manifesting in the world at large; the polarising divisiveness that omits a certain kind of poison into society that excludes all who differ in belief.
Hence my attention is drawn to sweet pittosporum.
Somewhere in my learning I adopted the belief that pittosporum was poisonous.
I believed it omitted a toxin that prevented other plants from growing. I thought the leaves were poisonous when in water, preventing all pond life from thriving.
In considering this, I realised I could have been wrong all along, and that what mattered was to find recent, well- presented, peer-reviewed research done by qualified people.
In pursuit of this, I find that sweet pittosporum indeed has a substance some other native plants don’t like, but has no more poison than any other tree that absorbs nutrition from soil such that nothing else can easily grow underneath it.
Instead, I find it is the protective shade of its dense, dark green canopy that discourages other plants from taking seed.
As a tree, it presents a conventional, storybook shape of being broader than it is tall.
It’s laurel-like leaves are thick, strong and glossy, and as it expands with the energy of spring, the tips manifest as swirls of bright, enthusiastic freshness.
While in bloom, it expresses a profusion of creamy, bell-shaped flowers that fill the breeze with the sweet, heady perfume.
The bees respond, and beckoned by curiosity, I lean into the hum of honey production and the busyness of the bee world in action.
Later in the month I can expect clusters of bright orange fruits that reveal a sticky red interior with black seeds — a food source for birds and mammals.
Far from being poisonous, it unfolds its benefit to others and proves to be as much a part of the bigger picture as any other tree.
So here is the interesting part.
Some authorities declared it as not noxious in Victoria while others state it is a significant environmental weed, which returns me to opinions that I’m sure most of us have had around all things COVID.
I’m guessing we all have opinions about who or what is noxious or significantly pesky in our society.
But come closer to home.
In asking me to check in, this fine- looking piece of sweet pittosporum garden furniture, makes me consider again and again what my own thoughts and actions create in the world.
In disapproving of those with different ideas, I run the risk of categorising them as a toxic pest and therefore unbeneficial to society.
In resisting them, I mirror the very resistance I disapprove of, thereby becoming complicit in the divisiveness I don’t want.
This supposedly-toxic tree on my home ground presents the challenge of our times; to question fully our opinions and reactions and to act with the utmost integrity, care and skilful means regarding our values and the society we want to create.

Jennah is captivated by the quiet presence of trees and is currently training to facilitate Forest Therapy.
If you have a favourite tree you’d like to share, please email her jennahmrose@outlook.com

Majesty by the side of the road

WELCOME TO Meeting with Remarkable Trees.

I have borrowed the title from Thomas Pakenham’s book that reflects on the character of the old, the sacred, the mysterious and the poetic through 60 of his favourite trees.

Unbeknown to many, trees serve us way beyond the comfort of shade on a hot day or ascetically pleasing additions to a garden.

Through 17 products derived from trees, they provide for over 5,000 of our daily commodities from mobile phone screens (cellulose acetate) to strengthening concrete (lignin).

Because of this, mono-culture plantations are a massive global industry predominantly operated by multinationals in collaboration with governments.

Our world forests are under threat and with the climate in crisis, attention is due.

On the flip side, much is now being discovered about the importance of diversity in old-growth forest and how trees communicate via a vast underground network.

Interest is growing, and trees, just like us, are becoming recognised as deeply fascinating individuals wholly reliant on their environment for survival.

In my experience, fostering a relationship with the trees based on curiosity and connection has been a necessary step towards creating personal climate-crisis solutions rather than being overwhelmed by the bigger picture.

I want to share this journey with you by seeking out and presenting the bold, the beautiful, the humble and the dignified in the Manningham’s community.

Do you have a tree favourite tree in your own garden or a tree you are fond of in your area?

Please email me at the address below.

I’d love to connect with you and hear your story.

There is no set criteria.

Large, small, young or old, character is all that matters.

Let’s celebrate Manningham’s forest.

By way of introduction then, meet March’s beauty.

Just down from the corner of Park Road and Feversham Avenue in Park Orchards, resides a tall and elegant eucalypt, who has taken an approximate 150 years to reach maturity.

At a distance she is well-balanced, neither thick in canopy nor thin, but just enough to see her graceful arms reaching up.

As I approach, a delightful mess of shredded skin crunches underfoot.

Her girth is furrowed with age-old protective layers, and looking up, her formidable branches carry the elegance and colour typical of early Victorian paintings: dark shadows highlighted with soft, silvery greys.

Creamy smoothness that merges into the blue-green tone of the canopy.

There are cavities emerging from some of her branches; a borer making a home, or larger hollows resulting from a branch felled by stormy weather.

Residing in deep time, it will be decades before any such borers outdo the tree.

Meanwhile,larger hollows provide nesting sites for our native parrots, cockatoos, and owls.

(On that note, if you need to trim or remove a tree, consider the possibility of providing a nesting site.

The hollows take decades to develop and a good arborist can advise and trim your tree accordingly).

In all, this Faversham resident presents a lovely impression of the many unique characteristics of Australia’s eucalypts.

As I watch and listen, I ponder what the breeze would do without long, slithery greenery to play with.

How would our days be without wind in the trees, and what would stories be without the touch of leafy whispers?

To share your favourite tree, email jennahmrose@outlook.com.

Jennah is captivated by the quiet, unassuming presence and of trees.

She is currently training to facilitate Forest Therapy and working towards a PhD about how we relate to the natural world.

Construction to commence on Fitzsimons Lane intersections

DESPITE COMMUNITY objection, work is about to commence on redevelopment of the “Eltham Gateway”, the intersection of Fitzsimons Lane with Main Road in Eltham and Porter Street in Templestowe.
Contractors BMD Construction are setting up to begin construction on the Fitzsimons Lane Major Roads project.
The project will upgrade key intersections along Fitzsimons Lane to reduce congestion, improve safety and provide better walking and cycling connections for the 60,000 people who use it every day.
A statement from Major Roads Projects Victoria (MRPV) said that the roundabouts cause delays, which can create risks for all road users.

“People travelling along Fitzsimons Lane will benefit from better and safer journeys travelling through these upgraded intersections.”

Local activists, Eltham Community Action Group (ECAG) have been vocal in their objection to the project.
The group has tied red ribbons around each of the trees earmarked for destruction.
They presented the State Government with a 2,900-signature petition against the project, calling the works an unnecessary overkill, which will see “hundreds” of trees removed in the process.

“A massive, signalised intersection (the three roads having 10, 8 and 8 lanes at the lights) will form an area of bitumen and concrete roughly the size of the MCG oval and destroy forever our iconic entrance to the Green Wedge Shire,” they said in a statement.

ECAG said they commissioned and presented their own alternative design that would keep the roundabout and many of the trees, but despite agreeing it was as effective as the official designs, MRPV rejected the compromise.
The statement from MRPV said following community consultation last year it removed two traffic lanes from the Eltham approach.

“We have also removed the bus priority lanes from all approaches to reduce the footprint of the Main Road and Fitzsimons Lane intersection.
“This change has reduced the number of trees that will be impacted, whilst ensuring the community and road users will still benefit from reduced congestion and improved safety.”

A construction worker who is working on the project told the WD Bulletin that he is concerned that lack of communications with the public by MRPV will see construction workers potentially come into conflict with protesters when tree removal begins.
ECAG is urging anyone with concerns about the project to visit elthamaction.org.au and write to their local member.
More information about the project plans from MRPV can be found at roadprojects.vic.gov.au/projects/fitzsimons-lane-upgrade