Sunday, January 30, 2011

After the Brisbane flood - A View from the Gardens

[Let me first clearly state that I have not visited any of the more seriously affected suburbs, and that this post is in no way intended to deminish the huge impact that the recent flood has had on the lives of hundreds of Brisbanites.]

It just so happens I got the opportunity to visit Brisbane last Thursday to attend a meeting, and after sitting inside for three hours a walk through Brisbane's Old Botanic Gardens was in order to help clear my head.

As should be very clear to anyone who has read any of my posts here or over at The Veteran Tree Group Blog that I am fascinated by the living history that our veteran trees represent, and the Old Botanic Gardens are a perfect example of that.

I like almost every square metre of the gardens, I love picturing in my head the original intent of the planners and landscapers who laid out the basic pattern of plantings. Probably my favourite sections are the Bunya pine avenue,

the weeping fig avenue

and the remnant Blue Gum on the banks of the Brisbane River.

On entering the park from Alice Street I was a little surprised that along the revetment wall, footpath and river bank there was very little obvious physical evidence of the recent (just over a week ago) flood.

The only visual clue is the extend of dead grass along the bank and the eroded state of the  mulch and soil.

I find this part of the city against the river really quite beautiful, perhaps because the tall multistorey buildings are some distance away, or perhaps because the cliff face on the opposite bank is relatively unchanged from the view in the late 1800's....I have been to quite a lot of cities overseas that are built on large rivers, and I have visited four state capitals here in Australia that are on big rivers...but Brisbane (or at least this section..and Fig tree pocket) is probably one of the most beautiful I have seen.

Despite what I (like every other Australian with a TV) saw for days not much more than one week ago, the Brisbane River now looks as harmless and tranquil as ever (ok its still pretty brown!).

I know that there are a great many people - not just in Qld - still struggling to reconstruct their lives...some will never be able to do that, people died...But I personally get a great deal of comfort from the defiant resiliance and defiance of the trees along the banks of the river.

...its almost as if they would look at the 2011 flood event and say...hmmm bit of rain nice water around my is sobering to remember that some of these trees (the older plantings have seen and endured far far worse).

Flooded gardens 1890's water up to the high bank and into the formal garden area

Temporary dry dock on the bank of the river

I know that trees fail, get smashed by wind, rain, lightning, floods etc...however the capacity of trees to reiterate their growth after the most catastrophic events continuing their presence as habitat and as living organisms never fails to impress and comfort when events do turn nasty.

I like to think that Walter Hill (the first curator of the Brisbane gardens and a major force in the natural sciences throughout in early Queensland) who planted the avenue of Bunya pines would be pleased with the resiliance of those trees despite all that has happened in the intervening years since the 1840's.

Flood waters in 2011 did enter the centre of the gardens backing up through the stormwater system without breaching the high bank...a pattern of inundation repeated throughout the riverside suburbs.

Just like the trees in the gardens I think that those Brisbanites who have lost most if not all of their posessions will begin to recreate their lives as best they a way our human version of reiteration. 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Water Sensitive Urban Design

Firstly, many thanks to the community group blog Saving Our Trees for bringing the following youtube video to my attention...Far too often those of us that advocate for a more rational and informed approach to the mangement of our urban environment hear the reprise "Oh yes it would be great to try that but its really not practical"

The facts consistently show not only is it practical, it is truely cost effective (beyond any quartely return or monthly balance sheet) and represents an integrated solution to a vast range of very common urban problems....WATCH, ENJOY AND BE INSPIRED.....


Go and visit the video home page of the organisation behind the brilliant design and installations works on Elmer Avenue...TreePeople