Autumn vibrancy

Autumn leaves in Canberra

Over a hundred years ago Charles Weston was appointed the bush capital’s inaugural Officer-in-Charge of Afforestation. On the banks of a rabbit infested, denuded Molonglo River, Weston was given a simple brief. Tame the harsh windswept limestone plains. Create a soft hospitable tree-lined urban landscape.

What a daunting task. After all, the city of the future was merely a sheep paddock at the time.

Implementing the Griffins’ master plan, Weston planted the seeds of his grand vision in the streetscapes we take for granted today.  A vision nurtured in the philosophy of contributing materially to the built landscape for human comfort. In crafting a city as beautiful as ours we owe a debt of gratitude to those remarkable pioneers who laid the foundations upon which our urban surrounds have matured majestically with time.

Today that streetscape vision has been fully realised. With shades of a stunning autumn now upon us, Weston’s horticultural influences resonate down through the years.  Autumn brings another spring where every deciduous leaf can be seen as the stunning colour of nature. Our established neighbourhoods, suburbs and streets are awash with warm vivid colour. There is a sense of vibrancy in our streetscapes.

These spectacular autumn leaves are now drifting onto our footpaths, pavements and driveways. Long gone are my childhood memories of the autumn leaf bonfires.

Within our interconnected stormwater network, autumn leaves and other organic pollutants have been identified as a key cause for the diminished water quality in our lakes. These autumn leaves break down, releasing a flush of nutrients that can lead to summer algal blooms and offensive odours as well as restrict recreational use of our town’s lakes.

You can play your part in keeping our waterways clean by composting autumn leaves, a free source of garden mulch and a highly effective way to return nutrients to the soil rather than our urban waterways.  Adding autumn leaves to your compost helps prevent greenhouse gas emissions by encouraging the aerobic breakdown of organic material – a win-win for the environment.

Despite additional street sweeping patrols, autumn leaves continue to enter our stormwater system. As a community-minded gesture, raking leaves out of roadside gutters is a small but tangible way to protect our magnificent waterways.

As we marvel at the vibrant colours, the rich tapestry that is our spectacular streetscape, let’s all play our part in keeping our storm water drains leaf free.

Remember—Only rain down the storm water drain.

Brett Mac

Brett McNamara - Regional Manager with ACT Parks & Conservation Service

Brett loves our national parks almost as much as the Gang-gang on his uniform. He is prone to using the word 'majestic' when referring to the bush capital. He loves talking. A lot. His favourite animal is the playful platypus.

Article also appeared on 8 May in The Chronicle