Anzac Parade Hebe works
As you have probably noticed, the Hebe Otari Delight plant display (the Display) on Anzac Parade is currently in significant decline. A full replacement program of the Hebes on Anzac Parade will begin in Winter 2020 and is anticipated to be be completed by Remembrance Day 2020.
History of Hebes on Anzac Parade
Anzac Parade is Australia’s premier commemorative way, hosting the Anzac Day service and a range of other commemorative events annually. The Parade was originally opened on 25 April 1965 to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the ANZAC landing in Gallipoli. The Display has been a feature of the Parade since its original opening.
The Parade symbolises the shared commitment of both Australia and New Zealand during times of war and peace and the plantings along Anzac Parade are symbolic of this alliance. The Hebe is a plant species native to New Zealand and complements the flanking Australian Blue Gums, planted down the verges.
In recent years, the NCA has been grappling with a gradual decline of the Display. This is despite a range of endeavours to maintain the quality of the Display.
Hebe Investigation and Findings
In 2019, the NCA commissioned an independent, broad ranging horticultural investigation of the Display including plant pathology and soil chemistry laboratory testing. It was established that the Hebe on Anzac Parade are slowly dying due to two relatively common soil borne diseases, Pythium and Fusarium. The diseases, which result in root rot, were found to have impacted all beds on the Parade to a greater or lesser extent. The identified diseases have been slowly attacking juvenile and mature plant roots, reducing the ability of the affected plants to take up water, particularly in hot and extreme weather conditions.
The spread of Pythium and Fusarium is difficult to control. There is no fungicide that is considered fully effective, especially on the scale currently presenting on the Parade. A disinfection protocol for ongoing maintenance operations in the Display is part of the NCA’s strategy to try and minimise plant loss. Given the advanced state of the diseases this has only met with partial success.
Future Replacement Strategy
The NCA’s independent horticultural advisor has advised that the Display’s Hebe Otari Delight should survive if kept disease free and maintained appropriately. The NCA therefore plans to retain the Hebe species given its heritage significance to the Parade. However, the only way to ensure that the diseases are fully removed and practicably controllable into the future is to:
- completely replace all of the planter bed soil, plants and drainage layer;
- disinfect each empty planter bed prior to new works commencing;
- install replacement soil, plants, drainage and irrigation; and
- implement a maintenance regime that reduces the risk of disease.
In preparation for a full replacement the NCA is currently cultivating replacement Hebe plants in a local nursery. Removal of the existing plants and planter bed materials is scheduled to commence after Anzac Day 2020 with full replacement complete prior to Remembrance Day 2020.
Talking with New Zealand
The NCA has been liaising with the New Zealand High Commission in Canberra and the National Arboretum of New Zealand in Gisborne regarding its proposed replacement strategy. We are also seeking ongoing specialist horticultural and other advice to successfully manage interim arrangements and the full replacement.
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