National Tree Day

SUNDAY July 30 is National Tree Day and more than 300,000 people are expected to take part in 3000 tree planting and bush regeneration sites around the country.

The day is co-ordinated by Planet Ark in partnership with Toyota. Since the first National Tree Day in 2006, more than two million volunteers have planted about 15 million native trees and shrubs. What a great effort.

There are plenty of ways you can get involved. If you’d like to be part of an official group, you can search for a site near you on! find-a-site/ or call the hotline on 1300 885 000.

But you can do your bit by simply planting a native tree or shrub in your own garden.

So why are trees important?

Trees help combat the greenhouse effect and slow the effects of global warming, soaking up carbon dioxide and exhaling oxygen for us to breathe.

They help prevent soil erosion and salinisation, as well as improving water quality by filtering out nutrients and pesticides.

Trees provide food and shelter to native wildlife. They also provide shade, and a well-placed tree can help to keep a home or other area cool in summer.

If you’re going to plant a tree in your garden, make sure you’re not planting a problem.

Most suburban backyards are too small to accommodate a large tree, so find out how big the tree will be when it is fully grown. Planting a tree is a pretty inexpensive and quick activity, but removing a large tree that has been planted in the wrong place is definitely not.

Apart from the size of your mature plant, you need to consider the position. Make sure you choose something that is suitable, bearing in mind the type of soil, amount of sun, extent of protection from wind and salt, and so on. Your local garden centre staff will be able to help you.

There are some lovely small native trees that are suitable for the home garden. Ceratopetalum Albery Red, also known as NSW Christmas bush, grows to about 5m, and Randia Fitzalinii, the native gardenia, grows to about 5m tall.

The Daintree Pine is another lovely small native tree (3-6m) with delicate bright green foliage and an elegant conical shape. It occurs naturally in the forest of Far North Queensland, but is very adaptable and grows well here.

If you have a partially shaded position, consider one of the Shady Lady series of telopea. They grow to about 3m by 1.5m and bear many very large blooms in red, pink, white or cream.

Shrubs, because they are smaller, are much easier to place. There are lots of different varieties of Grevilleas, Banksias, Syzygiums and Acmenas which grow 1-4m tall.

Eriostemon (Wax Flower), Chamelaucium (Geraldton Wax) and Westringia (Coastal Rosemary) are pretty, small-to-medium sized shrubs with masses of flowers in late winter/spring.

National Tree Day is particularly concerned with increasing the stock of native plants because of the need to provide food and habitat for native animal species.

But bear in mind that many exotic plants are non-invasive and also support native animals, so you don’t need to completely exclude them from your garden if you love them. 

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