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  • Writer's pictureGabrielle Stannus

Happy New Year!

School playgrounds, highland homes ... just what do we have up our sleeves this year? Continue reading to find out …


We are easing ourselves back into work slowly, having taken time to catch up with family and friends. We have also found time to take some day trips around beautiful northern Tasmania, including Cataract Gorge in Launceston, where Ludovic took this photo of a Golden Everlasting (Xerochrysum bracteatum). We hope your year will be just as sunny as this native daisy makes you feel when you look at it!

A message wishing readers a Happy New Year for 2024.
Happy New Year to you all!

Over the holidays, I have finally got around to submitting regular observations of flora and fauna found during our outings on iNaturalist, including this image of the Golden Everlasting. iNaturalist is a citizen science platform through which naturalists, citizen scientists, and biologists can map and share observations of biodiversity across the globe. Getting into this habit is both useful in my work as an Associate Lecturer of Geography at the University of Tasmania's School of Geography, Planning, and Spatial Sciences, and also here at Inwardout Studio designing landscapes in a more environmentally sensitive way.


We have several new building and landscape design projects to share with you where this type of knowledge is providing extremely useful. Read on for a quick update on those projects. We will share more detailed information in due course.


Highland home

We are currently working on an integrated building and landscape design for an existing dwelling in Miena up on the Central Plateau. We are having to think very carefully about the planting we specify on this block given the sensitive nature of this landscape; firstly the home is located in a bushfire-prone area, and secondly, it is also located in an area of conservation significance that is home to endemic flora and fauna including the Miena cider gum (Eucalyptus gunnii subsp. divaricata) and the Miena jewel beetle (Castiarina insculpta).


A jewel beetle perched on a shrub
The rare, endemic Castiarina insculpta (Miena jewel beetle) found feeding on Ozothamnus hookeri along ther Lake Augusta Road, Central Plateau Conservation Area, Tasmania. (Image: Nuytsia@Tas via Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 DEED)

According to the Department of Natural Resources and Environment Tasmania (NRE), the Miena jewel beetle occurs in the Great Lake/Lake Augusta area of the Central Plateau and has been recorded in open subalpine woodland and heath above 900 m elevation (Threatened Species Section, 2024). This beetle feeds almost exclusively on Ozothamnus hookerii, one of several species known as Kerosene Bush because of its aromatic, inflammable foliage (University of Tasmania, 2019). No prizes for guessing which plant I am already hoping to incorporate in the planting plan for this site! However, it is early days yet on this job, and before I make any such plant lists, I still have a little more research to do, and a site visit as well. Ludovic and I will probably work in a quick camping trip at the nearby yingina / Great Lake. The perks of the job!


School playground

This month, we are starting Stage 3 of the concept plan for a playground redesign at Perth Primary School, south of Launceston. The school would like to increase the overall area where edible produce can be grown, and to grow more native plants in general to attract fauna. They also want spaces for small group activities where the activities taking place are visible by the teachers and Teaching Assistants supervising them. And on top of the wish list is a teepee and other play equipment made from natural materials! Check out what we have proposed so far in the concept plan illustrated below, including a Lizard Lounge, a warm spot for the children to hang out, and hopefully also the blotched blue-tongue lizard (Tiliqua nigrolutea) might make a visit during the warmer months of the year.


Coloured concept plan showing proposed redesign of school playground
Our concept design for the quadrangle at the front entrance of Perth Primary School in northern Tasmania.

As you can see from the image above, we have already prepared the concept plan. What is left for us to do is to draft the construction details, planting plan and plant schedule. The construction details provide additional information enabling any contractors to build or install hardscape features, e.g. dimensions, material types, fixing/joinings, etc. The planting plan is a two-dimensional representation of the number, type and location of plants in the final design. When accompanied by the plant schedule, this information will provide the contractor responsible for implementing the design with enough detail to complete the planting satisfactorily. The plant schedule is a list of the plants specified in the planting plan, including their general location, botanical name, common name, height and width at maturity, quantity required and recommended purchase size. I am currently working to finalise the planting plan and plant schedule for this concept, whilst Ludovic is finalising the construction details, as is our norm here in our office.


I just love this part of the job, i.e. researching and specifying plants. As I do this for the primary school concept, I am paying special attention to locally native species, in response to student and teacher requests. However, the unique microclimates now found within this quadrangle (it is covered by large shade clothes and walkways) mean that I have to search a little more widely for plants that can tolerate site conditions. It is not always possible to plant indigenous plants on locations that have been highly modified since European settlement and colonisation. Sometimes native cultivars can be useful, so long as they do not become weedy themselves, displacing threatened indigenous species - so think carefully before you buy such plant varieties if your garden is located close to an environmentally sensitive landscape.


2024 Tamar NRM Sustainable Living Festival

Curious about what we do and how we might help you with your building and/or landscape project? Feel free to call or drop us a line. If you prefer to speak face to face, why not come along and have a chat with us at our display at the 2024 Tamar NRM Sustainable Living Festival in Launceston. Book Saturday 2 March 2024 at the Tramshed in Inveresk into your diary now. We are really looking forward to this festival, although we know from experience that putting a display together can require a lot of effort. And festival days are so busy themselves with bump in, showtime and then bump out. Hopefully, we will have enough energy after the festival concludes to take advantage of MONA FOMA's free concert at Cataract Gorge the same day featuring TISM, yes I am not kidding you. This is serious mum!


Until the next time ...


A bientot!


References

Threatened Species Section. (2024, January 19). Miena Jewel Beetle (Castiarina insculpta): Species Management Profile for Tasmania's Threatened Species Link. Department of Natural Resources and Environment Tasmania. Retrieved January 19, 2024, from https://www.threatenedspecieslink.tas.gov.au/Pages/Miena-Jewel-Beetle.aspx


University of Tasmania. (2019). Ozothamnus hookerii. Key to Tasmanian Vascular Plants. Retrieved January 20, 2024, from https://www.utas.edu.au/dicotkey/dicotkey/AST/gnaph/sO_hookeri.htm


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