Love them or hate them, our quality of life would be much poorer without them. Take all the street trees out of Burnside and property values would be chopped in half. South Westerly winds would be all the more fierce.
For our Riverland and Mallee climate, street trees take on an even more important role as our summers are long, hot (in the middle of winter, I can’t wait!) and at times unrelenting. The simple visual relief of a green shady tree is dramatic. Really a bit like the oasis of palms and cool pools of water in a sea of sand hills. Then add the very real effects of cooling shade and shelter we have a very important public asset that must be maintained and improved continuously.
An avenue of like species can be quite an incredible sight. London plane in the streets of Adelaide would be a good example. I can think of a number of streets north of Sydney with nothing but Jacaranda in full bloom the memory of which is very strong. Europe is full of grand streets lined with trees. The icing on the cake. The jam and cream on the scone. The street with trees.
Street trees are earned after many years of consistently working towards a common goal. Communities that achieve this pinnacle is blatantly obvious by the appearance of streets, both in ‘knob hill’ and industrial areas.
This then presents us with a problem. Our climate will not let us easily establish and maintain street trees like London plane or Jacaranda. But wait, we do have some streets that are quite literally avenues using plants from areas of Australia with similar soils and similar rainfall.
I suggest that all the Riverland and Mallee streets should be lines with trees that will grow and flourish to bring about all the acknowledged benefits of street trees to all. I think we could do it fairly easily with the following plants with all the normal precautions of maintaining sensible distances from roadways and services both above and below the ground.
Acacia pendula weeping myall, A. salicina Broughton willow wattle, Brachychiton populneus kurrajong, Casuarina pauper black oak, Eucalyptus brockwayii Dundas mahogany, E. erthronema Lindsay gum, E. forrestiana fuchsia gum, E. leucoxylon megalocarpa large fruited SA blue gum, E.oleosa red mallee, E. salmonophloia salmon gum, E. salubris gimlet, Geijera parviflora wilga, Melaleuca lanceolata dryland tea tree, Santalum acuminatum quandong.
You may spot a few on my list already growing as street trees around the place. While I accept some will drop fruit (woody capsules in this case) and leaves, I’d rather this than not have a street generously lined with trees.
All the trees on my list will quite happily grow on our natural rainfall and once through the first two or three summers and ‘pruned up’ for clearance will need virtually no maintenance.
There are plenty I’d like to include and I’m sure you could add a few of your own. Better still write to local council to ask if you can plant and maintain one or two or several. Happy planting!
This article first published in the Riverland Weekly © July 8, 2010.