Republic of Moreland

May 13, 2007

Revegetating our nature strips

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  • Revegetated nature strip in Rennie Street, Coburg.

Fanged if I can figure why urban councils don’t encourage nature-strip vegetation (other than lawn and maybe a single tree). After all, it’s in their best interests.

The Age reports that “big leafy trees can often add more value to a house than an expensive renovation”, and that “Real estate agents agree that a good streetscape can add 30 per cent to the price of a property.”

There’s nothing to suggest this isn’t true of understory vegetation too. The Age also reports that

Houses in and around Separation Street, Northcote, used to overlook a municipal tip until the council transformed the site into All Nations Park, he says. Not surprisingly, values soared.

“Property values went up overnight by 20 to 30 per cent,” Mr Valentic says.

The reason is obvious. As Michael Pollan has written, it seems we’re hard-wired to enjoy a pastoral sensibility that lies in that comfort zone between nature and culture. (Where in that zone your comfort range falls is probably cultural and generational: my elderly Italian neighbours on one side and my middle-age Lebanese neighbours on the other prioritise pavers, stones and cement over living landscape.)

In light of current urban planning values, lawns are as outmoded as the Cyprus hedge.

  • most residents use fossil fuel to mow lawns
  • lawns are high-maintenance
  • exotic lawn grasses seed competitive weeds on our creek banks
  • you get better stormwater and weed management from a bush garden than a strip of lawn

There are some very inspirational native nature-strips around Westgarth, and some orchard strips as well. I was intrigued by a link provided by Marty in his comment about an earlier post on urban farming. He linked to a site discussing the philosophy and practice of guerrilla gardening (or ‘green graffiti’). I’m scheming a bit of guerrilla gardening myself. My Loquat tree spawned hundreds of baby trees this summer, and I’m nursing them to replanting stage. I’m going to target specific bare nature-strip sites around Coburg and plant them at the end of winter. Hopefully people will leave them to grow and fruit, so Coburg can enjoy the Victory garden philosophy. I shall document my endeavours: watch this space.

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February 12, 2007

Backyard experiment


With Hydrocell, watered twice weekly


Without Hydrocell, watered twice weekly (more…)

January 30, 2007

Livestocking in Cobes

Filed under: Brunswick,Coburg,urban farming,water — Kath @ 10:13 pm

When we were house-hunting a couple of years back, we looked at a house in Jones Street, Brunswick. It was advertised for a song, it looked neat enough from the outside, and our stomachs churned as we entered. It stank. Real bad. It was a mess. The estate agent — from Lewis — looked aptly embarrassed, poor fella. He didn’t even attempt to talk it up. For reasons we couldn’t discern, the house had two kitchens. They weren’t Kosher or Halal, let me tell you. One had a tap that didn’t so much drip as dribble stuff. Worse: the dank, sour-smelling concrete yard was overcrowded with pigeons, rabbits and flies, and no doubt rats—it was a vermin concentration camp. (more…)

January 28, 2007

Why Moreland Council should invest in groofs

I had the good fortune recently to meet an urban planning graduate from RMIT, Ben Nicholson. I had the further good fortune to read his elegant thesis about Melbourne’s ‘groofs’. Urban rooftop gardens reduce our environmental footprint in so many ways, but more than that, they’re bringing new ecologies, aesthetics and social behaviours into cities. They’re even reducing urban management problems. And they’re profitable! Not so much in Melbourne: we’re woefuly behind the rest of the world in the green roofs movement. (more…)

January 16, 2007

New ways with water


Can you guess what these are? A hint: they’re not marital aids. They are in fact the one device. This device is very interesting in light of the argument that currrent water restrictions, which target individuals (residents), are systemically unfair. (more…)

January 12, 2007

Free workshops

Filed under: Coburg,events,Fawkner,Glenroy,notices,water — Kath @ 11:16 am

Here’s a thing. Moreland Energy Foundation is offering free Home Energy workshops. Did I mention free? Only for Moreland residents, but. You can go to an organised one or they can come to your home to give them. Attendees “also receive a FREE energy retrofit kit valued at over $50!!” I’m not sure what the kits consist of, so I’ve emailed the foundation to ask, and will update you. (more…)

January 6, 2007

Dobbing on our neighbours

Filed under: art,crime,environment,gardening,neighbours,politics,water — Kath @ 12:07 am

Tough-on-crime serial dobber Bane of Malakas just emailed me. He alerted me to a blog on the site of a happening Melbourne music magazine, Mess+Noise. There, PaulsGrandfather writes:

“It is not anyone’s ‘right’ to water their concrete driveways. Or to take 20 minute showers. Or to hose down their windows.”

Hear, hear — naturally. Same, of course, with big urban 4WDs. Toorak tractors should be outlawed, for sure, and we should treat the ‘rights’ rhetoric coming from the motoring community car lobby with the tar-and-feathering it deserves. It’s no-one’s ‘right’ to warm the planet for the sake of Big Ego. But listen up: here’s PaulsGrandfather’s answer to water-crime: (more…)

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