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THE AGE Saturday, October 23, 2010
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"Native trees suit the ecosystem, they are good for bees
and birds, and they provide a natural habitat for wildlife."
Branching into a
career in trees
ABOVE: Ben Scoble, a genuine tree lover.
When it comes to symbols, the
tree must be one of the most
universal, and most powerful,
that we have. To most people, trees
matter, though the reasons may be
buried thousands of years deep.
Today, however, we have many
good reasons to value our trees. Our
farmers, who have spent a century or
two grubbing them out, are now
planting them, either as a crop, or to
benefit crops and livestock.
Local councils do their best to
protect existing trees, and mandate
tree planting in developments. Water
restrictions have killed many exotic
trees in the suburbs of Melbourne,
and home owners frequently replace
them with natives.
"There is something graceful about
trees. They are big, they are old, I like
big trees," Ben Scoble reflects. "You
walk through the Mountain Ash
forest in the Dandenongs, and they
are three hundred years old and a
hundred metres tall, there's something
cool about that."
Mr Scoble, nursery manager for
advanced tree nursery Speciality Trees
in Narre Warren East, came to trees
through a Nursery Wholesale
apprenticeship some years ago. Today
trees are his enthusiasm as well as his
"We've got pretty much every tree
you could think of, 180 different
types, from native gums to Japanese
Maples to conifers."
Speciality Trees caters mainly to
landscape gardeners and garden
designers. "People come to us with
problems, and we solve them with a
tree," Mr Scoble says.
"You are looking to block out your
neighbour, you want to bring Winter
light in, but want shade in Summer,
you've got a hight restriction, you
have this type of soil, this is how
much water you've got, and this is
how much time I spend in the
''Then myself and the other
salespeople here can come up with
some recommendations, tell the
landscaper or designer, and we go
Producing native trees suitable for
suburban environments is a challenge,
Mr Scoble says.
"There has been a phenomenal
amount of work done in the last few
years on the grafting of native trees.
The best example is the Flowering
Gum from West Australia, Corymbia
maculata. If you grow it from seed
you could get orange through to
mauve, every shade of red you can
think of, and you won't know until it
grows and flowers. With the grafting
technique I can guarantee each tree is
a specific colour.
''The other thing grafting can do is
bring the height down. One of the
most popular trees we grow is the
spotted gum, a thirty to thirty-five
metre tree. This is beautiful tree,
tolerant of every soil. I now have a
Corymbia maculata that grows to six
or seven metres.
''I've brought it down to an urban
size, but kept all the good things
about it, the smooth spotted bark,
the drought tolerance. But it's going
to take me ten years to perfect the
process and check that it actually
"Native trees suit the ecosystem,
they are good for bees and birds, and
they provide a natural habitat for
wildlife." And a career for Mr Scoble.
Careers in Environment and sustainablity
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