The Woody Meadows Project aims to create low-maintenance, affordable, highly diverse and beautiful planting plans for public spaces.

The Woody Meadows Project aims to create low-maintenance, affordable, highly diverse and beautiful planting plans for public spaces.Credit:Robin Powell

Imagine being thrilled by the planting on the side of the road. That’s part of the long-term vision of the Woody Meadows Project.

A meadow is by definition a field of grass and flowering, non-woody plants, making a woody meadow oxymoronic: lucky it’s such an exciting idea. What the concept takes from the meadow is a self-sustaining and diverse mix of plants growing in aesthetically pleasing harmony. But instead of the annuals, perennials, grasses and bulbs of the classical meadow, a new Australian version uses woody plants adapted to bushfire.

The point of the Woody Meadows Project is to create low-maintenance, affordable, highly diverse and beautifully planting plans for public spaces — roadsides, railway sidings, verges and parks. It’s part of an international trend to do public planting better by using the natural attributes of well-chosen plants. Beauty is the goal, and it sticks to the budget.

“The idea was to use shrubby plants that evolved alongside regular bushfires, allowing us to manage them through coppicing,” explains Dr Claire Farrell, one of the project leaders and lecturer in Green Infrastructure at the University of Melbourne.



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