Bendigo is full of happy tree-huggers

BLIZZARD: Bendigo is frequently snowed under in drifts of elm seeds. The city is proud of its elm populations and works hard to preserve them.
BLIZZARD: Bendigo is frequently snowed under in drifts of elm seeds. The city is proud of its elm populations and works hard to preserve them.

Bendigo people are used to it, but newcomers are often stunned by the snowstorm scenes in our CBD streets at this time of the year.

Elm tree seeds fall like Mt Buller snow in July, and they form flurries and drifts all over the city.

It’s not unknown to see an early morning shop door with the seeds piled up 10 or 15 centimetres deep, and gutters overflowing with the white fluffy thingos.

For most of us, it’s just an annual curiosity, but for those who have to keep cleaning them up it’s a nightmare. Yep. A nightmare of elm trees. Sorry.

But here’s something weird in the circumstances: on eBay just 100 elm seeds can be bought for $3.50.

There’s gold in them thar gutters.

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The City of Greater Bendigo manages about 3600 elm trees and says our elms are one of the healthiest populations of elms in the world. (The seed storms would indicate that’s spot on.)

In most places, elms have been damaged or destroyed by a leaf beetle, but here, we inject stuff into the soil at the base of the trees.

We even have hundreds of locals involved in a Melbourne-based organisation, Friends Of The Elms, which urges people to spot elms, get them registered and take personal action in keeping them healthy.

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You’d never guess it right now, but elms make up less than four per cent of the trees which the CoGB manages. It looks after more than 100,000 – about a quarter of which we suspect are young trees snapped off by late-night drunks and yobbos.

We take our trees very seriously in Bendigo. We even put a dollar value on them. There’s a six-page document available to show how it’s done, by multiplying trunk diameter at chest height, species rarity, its impact on amenity such as shade or charm, location, cost of cutting it down and the cost of replacing it.

Large street trees can be valued at more than $30,000.

How do we know this? From information from the City of Greater Bendigo Manager Parks and Open Space Debbie Wood who is clearly in the right job.