The attack on native gardens as described in recent West Australian (“Verge rules crackdown upsets residents”, Nov 11, 2017, Issue, Page 23) upset me all the way here in Uptown, New Orleans, USA. The very Ex-Minister of Environment, currently Mayor of City of Joondalup Albert Jacob supports issuing notices for residents to remove “offending native plants” and “landscaping features”. It resonates with me very much as I still have vivid memories of participating and co-organizing native garden workshop in 2015 as an active member of Murdoch Branch of Wildflower Society of WA. How on Earth it is possible that residents’ passion for native vegetation is so brutally punished by ex-Minister of Environment?
Let’s try to accept the fact that Ex-Minister for Environment does not care for the terrestrial environment (many Australians do not care for natives either) but genuinely is worried about pedestrians’ well-being. Pedestrians indeed may stumble over a rock, or worse, get entangled in Kennedia prostrata so let me have a closer look at the front lawn culture across the globe.
These lawns mark the Uptown landscape in New Orleans in the same pattern they characterize new sterile and homogenous suburbs of growing Perth. Throughout my life in Perth and here in New Orleans, I realized that front house lawns rarely serve as a space for a leisurely walk or picnic on a swing that indeed can truly increase residents’ well-being.
From what I see, my understanding is that front lawns serve as a playground for lawn-mowers. And when a regular noise of two-stroke lawn-mower penetrates my brain through to the skull I hardly feel well. Once the lawn-mower stops I realize how huge of a blessing silence is but soon after the engine stops I also start thinking of CO2 and diesel emitted by its noisy works. As the cloud of diesel fumes is still hovering over my head, I also realize that lawn-mowers exacerbate climate change by increasing CO2 levels and increase cancer risk for suburban residents as diesel fumes have been long recognized as cancerogenic.
Recently, I also fight a headache caused by pesticides that are sprayed quietly in the very early mornings. Jogging that is supposedly good for my well-being brings me home with a headache every time I can smell that mild but irritating chemical in the air used to kill off lawn pests. On top of noise made by lawn-mowers and the chemical stench of pesticides lawns also associate significantly well with higher water bill and higher fertilizer concentration in urban rivers.
If Albert Jacob (Mayor) truly cared for residents’ health, he has to take into account potentials risk of having lawns too. I do believe that Trevor Allan who spent ~ $14,000 on his new native garden will advocate for change in council rule and vote for the candidate that genuinely believes in the value of natural landscape vision.