Grumpy / Hot start takes heavy toll on the tramway trees

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Two dead trees on Northbourne Avenue. Photo: Cedric Bryant

THE ACT government has appealed to residents in the heatwave conditions to water street trees. If only we could take this seriously and follow by example.  

For our latest urban forest along the new tramway is dying. A couple of weeks  ago I counted 10 dead Eucalyptus mannifera between Antill Street and Barry Drive on Northbourne Avenue. I haven’t started the count along Flemington Road.

Amazingly, a few days later they were all “healthy” again. Divine intervention? No, a heap of replacement trees were on site, laying on their sides in their containers, with no respect for the trees awaiting replanting. Any horticulturist knows that autumn is planting time and never, especially with advanced trees, in high summer.

A dead Eucalyptus mannifera photographed on Northbourne Avenue on January 16. Photo: Cedric Bryant

On January 16, with two other witnesses, I counted 21 totally dead trees again in the same section of the tramway and two days later another 10 that have no hope of recovery.

By January 20, again with two independent witnesses, the tree death toll had risen to more than 50 between Antill Street and Barry Drive with the prospects of another 20 trees looking bleak.  

I do hope there are a few hundred trees in reserve to keep replacing the dead because, as we well know, it is ratepayers who ultimately pay for these semi-mature, expensive trees.

The large, fallen branch of the Eucalyptus mannifera on Northbourne Avenue. Photo: Cedric Bryant

I couldn’t but help notice the very large branch of the Eucalyptus mannifera that had fallen near the old visitor centre on Northbourne Avenue. It is the same variety, commonly known as Brittle Gum, as the ones being planted along the tramway and I can’t help but hope no-one is in a tram when they fall on it. Although the way things are growing, I don’t think any of the new plantings will ever get to maturity to cause a future problem!

Cedric Bryant is a horticultural consultant and “CityNews” gardening writer. He can be contacted at

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Cedric Bryant
Trained horticulturist and garden designer with over 30 years experience in the industry.


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