More than 100 years ago Charles Weston was appointed the bush capital's inaugural Officer-in-Charge of Afforestation.
On the banks of a rabbit infested, denuded Molonglo River Weston was given a simple brief. Tame the harsh windswept limestone plains. Create a soft hospitable tree-lined urban landscape.
What a daunting task. After all, a grand city of the future was merely a sheep paddock at the time.
Implementing the Griffins' master plan, Weston planted the seeds of his grand vision in the streetscapes we take for granted today. A vision nurtured in the philosophy of contributing materially to the built landscape for human comfort.
In crafting a city as beautiful as ours we owe a debt of gratitude to those remarkable pioneers who laid the foundations upon which our urban surrounds have matured majestically with time.
Today that streetscape vision has been realised. With shades of a stunning autumn now upon us Weston's horticultural influences resonate down through the ages. Our established neighbourhoods, suburbs and streets are awash with warm vivid colour.
Long gone are my childhood memories of the autumn leaf bonfires, banned for good air-quality reasons. These spectacular autumn leaves are now making their way onto our footpaths, pavements, driveways and gutters.
Within our interconnected stormwater network, autumn leaves along with organic pollutants have been identified as a key cause for the diminished water quality in our lakes. They break down, releasing a flush of nutrients. High phosphorous levels lead to summer algal blooms and offensive odours that restrict recreational use of our town lakes.
The good news is that you can play your part in keeping our waterways clean. Composting autumn leaves is a free source of garden mulch and a highly effective means of returning nutrients to the soil as opposed to our urban waterways.
By adding autumn leaves to your garden compost you can help prevent greenhouse gas emissions by encouraging the aerobic breakdown of organic material-a win-win for the environment.
Despite street sweeping patrols, autumn leaves continue to enter our stormwater system. As a community-minded gesture raking leaves out of roadside gutters is a small but tangible step in protecting our magnificent waterways.
As we marvel at the vibrant colours, the rich tapestry that is our spectacular streetscape let's all play our part in keeping our storm water drains leaf free.
Remember: Only rain down the storm water drain.
Brett McNamara is with ACT Parks & Conservation Service
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