Wes Fleming, founder of The Fleming’s Group, shares his thoughts on and vision for the landscaping industry in Australia. A third-generation nurseryman, Wes is dedicated to delivering landscapes throughout the country that leave a legacy for years to come.
I love Melbourne. It really is a beautiful city. With approximately 480 hectares of parks and gardens, streets lined with mature trees that provide canopies, and well-planned spaces for children to play, dogs to run, and family and friends to gather, it’s the green spaces that truly make this city sing.
Melbourne’s early planners were proficient in developing a city of harmony – balanced between places to live, places to work and places to play and relax. And what a success it has been!
But today, as Melbourne’s growth corridors develop, we need to remind our planners of the importance of not only reserving a place for open public space, but ensuring it is developed with trees and greenery at the forefront. We need to balance that space against the rest of the urban area.
While many developers are working to ensure public open spaces are incorporated into new communities, I am shocked by the number of times I travel past a park, filled with play equipment, pergolas and BBQ facilities, but hardly any trees.
I believe we need everyone within the development chain onboard to keep raising the bar for quality urban design and quality planting. It’s easy to place plants down the list of priorities, but our communities will feel the effects of sparsely or poorly planted landscapes in years to come.
It is well documented that areas with mature trees, highly planted open spaces and well-maintained reserves are low on crime. These areas have a higher socio-economic value, offer healthier, happier youth and so-on, which needs to be reflected in new urban communities. Recent studies have also shown the benefits of exposure to greenery helps those who are sick recover faster.
It’s not enough just to highlight an area and title it a public reserve but then neglect the responsibility to ensure it is planted properly with a vision for the future. We are reaching a critical period in urban development where blocks are getting smaller as affordability climbs ever further out of reach of many working Australians.
The days of large, expansive backyards in metropolitan areas are fast coming to an end, so now, more than ever, developers must appraise the balance of green spaces that are well planted within their developments and drive the future of communities for residents who simply don’t have space for a garden of their own.
In a nutshell, better landscaping means we can create better communities that promote happier residents who, in turn, develop a true sense of place within their surroundings.
The conversation is happening but the cohesion is lost. We need government planning, council, developers, planners and engineers, landscape architects and horticulturalists to band together and drive a plan for our expanding cities to develop a brighter future.
Let’s all work together to bring the garden to the people for communities that we will all be proud of in years to come.
Wes Fleming OAM – Nurseryman