Bush capital autumn vibrancy
More than 100 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. To tame the harsh windswept limestone plains. To create a soft, hospitable, tree-lined urban landscape.
What a daunting task. After all, a grand 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 realised. With shades of a stunning autumn now upon us, Weston's horticultural influences resonate down through time. Autumn brings another spring, where every deciduous leaf can be seen as the stunning colour of nature.
Our established neighbourhoods, suburbs, and streets will soon be awash with warm vivid colour. There is a sense of vibrancy in our streetscapes.
These spectacular autumn leaves will make their way 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 organic pollutants have been identified as a key cause for diminished water quality in our lakes. These autumn leaves break down, releasing a flush of nutrients. High phosphorous levels leading to summer algal blooms, offensive odours restricting recreational use of our town 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 as opposed to our urban waterways.
By adding autumn leaves to your garden compost you can help 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, by removing leaves from your roadside gutters you take a small but tangible step 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 McNamara is with ACT Parks Conservation Service.
Article also appeared on 26 March 2019 in The Chronicle