David Shorthouse, Warren Saunders and Cathy Robertson went on site at Block 100 with Adam Burgess, the Curator for the Arboretum on 23 December 2008 to discuss the preparation and planting requirements for Block 100.
The group had arrived there in great excitement, after receiving the news that Chief Minister Jon Stanhope had given approval to provide the resources for the STEP project so planting could commence in autumn 2009.
After a successful site visit discussing options with the Curator, Adam Burgess, STEP Committee later advised the Arboretum Project Team that the treatment of the ground plane for block 100 should minimise interference with the natural topography and native plants on the Block.
We advised the Project Team to sow a native grass mixture and spray it with mulch and bitumen. Our inspection of the surface indicated that there had been deep ripping in preparation for the pine plantation that occupied this site prior to the 2003 bush fires. STEP gave consideration to a suggestion from the Project Team that the use of a yeoman’s plough might be good to shatter the under layer and minimise disturbance of the top layer. After further discussions with the project team director, STEP agreed the Yeoman’s plough was not necessary for preparing the rows.
We also advised that any rocks on this site, that would impede mowing, should be collected and left on site. STEP explained that we did not want to impede mowing of the site, necessary for fire control and fuel load management.
STEP said that the ripping and levelling of the site in the usual way for preparing Arboretum blocks should take place: including raking off rocks, levelling the ground plane and removing weeds. STEP also advised the Project Team that we did not want clover planted on our block, which is the usual ground cover planted to prevent weeds and make mowing easier.
STEP noted that after rain, this block has significant drainage issues: it will be necessary to provide drainage channels and garden bed surrounds, using rocks to protect the planting. STEP has requested that an agreed drainage plan will be implemented for Block 100 to provide the means to keep water on the site at the lowest point where the water collects. STEP would like to construct an ephemeral rock pond, to attract skinks and other fauna. This should also provide a barrier to prevent water flowing on the maintenance road outside the western boundary of the STEP Block. Rocks will be collected and stored on STEP site for this.
Irrigation drippers for the establishment phase for each tree will be placed in trenches. There will be mulching of the tree rows, with drippers in place under the mulch. If there is any spare mulch, we have asked that it be piled nearby for later use. It may be necessary to spray the mulch with bitumen to keep it in place. Tree guards known as “trees for earth” will be supplied by the Arboretum to protect the tree planting. The placement of a water tank on this block will be arranged by the irrigation designer.
Non potable water will be supplied by the Arboretum under the arrangement with the Molongolo Water Treatment Plant. Irrigation is planned to remain accessible on Block 100 until 2010 – to establish the grasses shrubs and wildflowers.
T Type fencing is to be erected around the block to protect the planting from interference by Kangaroos. The electrification of this fencing may be needed in later years after the trees begin to grow above one metre high.