Broadway Arboretum

Protecting and enhancing Bassendean's qualities

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Concept and overview of Broadway Arboretum

This section explains the concept and vision for the Arboretum, provides an overview of the current state of the arboretum, and continues the history from 1988 to the present time (June 2009).

The concept and vision

The Broadway Arboretum concept was to represent plants growing in sandy soils in six South-West botanical provinces in sections of the reserve with a central wetland.

The vision was...

The end result desired is for the vegetation of the sand soils of the South West to be on display in as close to natural form as possible.  The reserve will be covered with low forest, woodland scrub and heath representative of each region accessible by natural walk paths.  The final product will be attractive to bird life, a useful educational facility and usable by residents and others as a passive recreational facility”.

Although the names and mapped boundaries of regions have changed over time, the map below shows the regions as they were known in 1993 when the Arboretum was conceived.

Plant Regions Map

No.

Plant Region name

Current Bioregion name

1 Northern Sandplains Geraldton Sandplains
2 Swan Coastal Plain Swan Coastal Plain
3

Karri Forest

Warren

4

Northern Jarrah Forest

Jarrah Forest

5

Southern Jarrah Forest

Jarrah Forest

6

Wheatbelt scrub and heath

Avon Wheatbelt

7

Wheatbelt (Mallee)

Mallee

8

Mallee (woodland and heath)

Mallee

9

Esperance sandplains

Esperance Plains

The line separating the Northern and Southern Jarrah Forest is around Collie, and the reason for defining a Wheatbelt (Mallee) region is not known.

Figure 1 below shows the arrangement of plants by plant region overlain on a 2009 Aerial photo.

Figure 1: Plant regions represented at Broadway Arboretum and their location. Click on the Figure to obtain a full resolution picture. Aerial photography reproduced with permission of the Western Australian Land Information Authority, 2009 (1).

The plant regions are:

  • Wheatbelt scrub and heath
  • Northern and Southern Jarrah forest
  • Wheatbelt (Mallee)
  • Mallee woodland and Mallee heath
  • Esperance sandplain
  • Karri forest
  • Northern sandplains
  • Swan Coastal Plain
  • Swan Coastal Plain Wetland

The species list of plants in Broadway Arboretum is incomplete because the expertise needed to identify every plant has not been available to the Bassendean Preservation Group (which is a non-profit volunteer-based organisation). The current species list is organised alphabetically with links to more information or a pdf document listing plants by region can be downloaded or viewed.

A self guided tour that highlights one plant from each of the plant regions is available.

Current state of Broadway Arboretum - An overview

Some of the plant regions have a good variety of species or are densely vegetated whilst in other areas only one or two species from the plant region survived leaving large bare areas dominated by annual weeds.  Plant regions that are now have a good variety of species or are densely vegetated are:

  • Wheatbelt scrub and heath
  • Northern sand plain
  • Mallee woodland
  • Swan Coastal Plain wetland

These areas have a good variety of different plants, and the Mallee woodland certainly has the right feel to it.  There is plenty of birdlife from time to time in the densely vegetated areas.

The Esperance sandplain area established well but was planted into a road reserve, and was cleared in 2008 (see History since 1988 below).

Only a few species representative of the sandy soils in the provinces of the Karri Forest, Swan Coastal Plain, Northern and Southern Jarrah Forests and Mallee (Heath) vegetation types survive, but some of these are particularly interesting and beautiful (e.g. Banksia repens).

The failure of these vegetation types to establish is believed to be a combination of a lack of ongoing management which occured when key staff at the Town of Bassendean responsible for arboretum left and remnant slag and foundry sand providing poor soils rather than the species planted.

Interestingly, the Swan Coastal Plain wetland is dominated by the native Bulrush Typha domingensis rather than the variety of Bulrush normally regarded as an invasive weed (i.e Typha orientalis).  Other rushes planted around the lake, and the Swamp Paperbark (Melaleuca rhaphiophylla) have grown well.  The Swamp Paperbarks are still only three or so metres high.  Unfortunately the eastern-states native Weeping Bottlebrush Callistemon viminalis* has become a weed, and a variety of paperbark believed to be from Queensland has also established.

Consistent with the intended design the Swan Coastal Plain wetland is dry during summer and flooded during winter

During winter the Swan Coastal Plain wetland is alive with frogs. The frog calls are so numerous and loud they can be heard hundreds of metres away.

Unfortunately the Summer-scented Wattle Acacia rostellifera from the Northern Sandplain area has become a weed and is spreading across the Arboretum.  It now covers hundreds of square metres.  This Acacia spreads by suckering so may be difficult to eradicate.  On the positive side, we now know not to introduce this species into Perth’s gardens or bushland.

The successes and failures of the Arboretum will help us determine which species from other parts of Western Australia can be used in dry landscaped areas in a time of reduced rainfall from climate change.

The introduced weed Caltrop (Tribulus terrestris) which has numerous sharp spines capable of puncturing bicycle tyres has established in part of the reserve and needs to be eradicated.  Visitors to the reserve should wear shoes with hard soles and ensure the seeds are not spread as you move from one part of the reserve to another.

Some of the species planted are Priority Flora in Western Australia.

History since 1988

The concept of the Arboretum was conceived in 1991 by the then Town Engineer Mr Jon Bettink, who had a good knowledge of vegetation of the South West.  Members of the Bassendean Preservation Group had a high regard for Mr Bettink’s work and refer to a wetland built for stormwater treatment and detention at the Ashfield Flats as “Lake Bettink”. 

A Concept Plan was issued for public comment on a community open day held on Saturday 17th April 1993 the map from that document appears below.

The Concept Plan received strong public support.  Council subsequently endorsed the concept and the Swan Coastal Plain wetland was excavated and much sand and “slag” was removed (see History and Heritage to the early 1990's)

The area was earthworked, planted, and signed in 1993.  Mr Bettink left the Town of Bassendean in 1993 to work at the Shire of Busselton. 

Unfortunately, it appears that when Mr Bettink left there was no expertise and little maintenance and management effort to bring the Arboretum concept to fruition. 

Irrigation was installed after significant plant deaths in the first year.  There were limited efforts to replant the plants that died.  The area quickly became weedy.

In 1995, in response to the neglect and weedy state of the Arboretum the Bassendean Preservation Group organised community work days to demonstrate to Council that the community cared about the Arboretum.  Over 30 community members helped weed the area.  On the first community work day 35-45 person hours of work were completed and about one quarter to one-fifth of the area was weeded.  Most people were willing to weed on one more occasion, but felt that Council should then do the rest.

Management of the area improved, but certainly not the extent necessary to fully realise the Arboretum concept.

When the area was planted, the Esperance sandplain vegetation type was located in a road reserve, rather than in the reserve itself.  Unfortunately, the road was never officially closed.

In 2008 a Department of Housing and Works subdivision was approved that included utilisation of the road reserve for a road.  Acting in accordance with the subdivision approval, the Esperance sandplain vegetation type was cleared. 

One of the outcomes of the Department of Housing and Works subdivision was that cash-in-lieu had to be provided to the value of 10% of the subdivided area.  This means that the Town of Bassendean now has substantial funds that, with the approval of the Minister for Planning, can be utilised to upgrade Broadway Arboretum.

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