The Putney Hill Palms

30 July 2013 — Mature palm trees are being carefully nursed, waiting to be relocated next year, as a new community development is created on the cusp of Putney and Ryde.

Frasers Property’s development team is paying special attention to maintaining the health and beauty of the site’s existing flora – more than 50 palm trees.

Senior project manager Ary Bornoush said the thriving natural flora at Putney Hill’s Victoria Road site had been a major draw card for the development opportunity.

“The idea of creating a community that balances eco-friendly with people-friendly, surrounded by flourishing flora, all within a suburb close to the city, was too good an opportunity to pass up,” he said.

“Partnering with award-winning landscape architect Environmental Partnership, we developed a detailed strategy to relocate upwards of 50 delicate palms from their original positions to be cared for in a burgeoning tree nursery, as construction teams forge ahead with building the community’s new homes.”

Mr Bornoush said the relocation was “no easy feat” and contracted specialist organisation Tree Transplanters Australia to advise on and carry out the task.

“Each palm takes weeks to fully relocate, including a considerable amount of preparation and maintenance time before and after the move,” Mr Bornoush said.

Step-by-step

Preparation

Before relocating the palms to their temporary nursery, a number of preparatory steps are taken.

First of all, the palms are inspected by Tree Transplanters Australia to ensure all are disease free prior to being transported. Once given the green light, all palm trunks are cleaned of foreign species such as figs and ferns, which are naturally transferred to palm trunks via birds and wind.

The new fronds are then strapped together with biodegradable twine, which conveniently allows for more compact replanting.

Digging

After all the preliminary preparation work, the process of digging out and transplanting the palm trees begins.

In order to do this, an excavator digs around the root ball at a diameter of 2.5 metres by about 1.5 metres deep. The palms are then supported and laid on the ground to completely separate them from the surrounding grounds.

It is this process of transplanting the trees that presents the greatest danger to their safety.

For the move, a Franna crane carries the palms to the nursery location, with each palm trunk protected by brace straps to ensure no damage is caused. During this craning phase, it is paramount that the palms are not tilted horizontally, as the trunks of these huge trees can easily snap under their own sheer weight.

The palms are then planted in their new nursery location, which needs a hole wide and deep enough to easily accept the root ball. The root zone is extremely sensitive, so planting too deeply will potentially cause root suffocation, nutritional deficiencies, root rot disease and, most sadly, the loss of the palm.

The palm nursery

To date, over 50 palms have been relocated to a nursery, and a number of key maintenance activities are being undertaken by Frasers Property in association with Tree Transplanters Australia.

Some of these include:

  • Keeping the root ball and surrounding backfill of each palm evenly moist, not saturated
  • Drenching the root zones two to four times during the first few months with a fungicide to maintain palm health.

More trees

With the palm trees ensconced in their temporary home, Frasers Property and Tree Transplanters Australia will soon start to relocate other resident, native trees at the Putney Hill site including liquid ambers, oaks, figs and a jacaranda.

All trees will be relocated to their new locations in late 2014 in spring and early summer as both soil temperatures and rainfall are on the rise.