Ellenby Tree Farm: Growing tomorrow's trees today
For almost four decades, the Ellenby Tree Farm has helped change the face of Perth.
Craig Woodroffe, whose parents founded Ellenby 35 years ago, said they were inspired to grow and supply mature trees while working in landscaping.
“They started up a hobby farm in Gnangara. After that it started growing, and our original site was outgrown in 5-6 years, so they purchased this property here in Bullsbrook 30 years ago, and we have been growing on this property since then.”
On more than 100 acres across two sites, Ellenby grows a range of trees of varying ages, and also performs advanced established transplants.
Craig said the best thing about the business is “when you go out to a landscape and recognise a tree you have planted, from when I was maybe six years old, or you see a difference it has made through an urban canopy”.
“Most of our trees will go to new residential landscapes, new estates… Quite often we specialise in entrance statement trees, parks and roundabouts.
“We also supply trees to the east coast as well, we have a high range... some of our trees are required over there as well.”
About 30 people work at Ellenby, with a strong focus on native trees.
“If you go back to when we first started it was quite a small range of trees, mostly imported deciduous trees from Victoria.
"Now over 50% of our trees are indigenous to Australia, most of them are indigenous to WA.
“We grow nearly 70,000 trees per annum, fruit trees, small screening trees, diverse range of trees. We like to be able to provide something that is suitable to the whole market place.”
Craig said the tree won’t always be native because in certain circumstances an imported tree may be better suited to the particular job.
“The key thing is there are so many benefits. Shade, cooler temperatures – which is particularly important in WA. If we can cool it down a few degrees it makes a difference.
Craig Woodroffe and farm dog Freddie.
“Another important thing is how, and how often, we interact with nature and the natural environment. There is great benefit to mental health.
“As we go towards the city centre we get smaller and smaller blocks, and higher density living. Although there is limited access for substantial tree planting we can bring nature back to the city through revegetating unused areas like street verges.
And that’s where the specialist knowledge and skills of Ellenby, along with their huge range of trees, comes in: they find the tree that works for the conditions.
Craig said that soil in Western Australia is “usually pretty poor”, so re-generation and new regenerative practices are vital – particularly if the state’s energy-intensive industries are serious about reducing their impact on the climate.
“There is a big demand for mature trees. Major resource companies are looking at net zero. If they want to hit that target in time, they will need a lot of trees.”
He said there were great opportunities for people interested in working to protect the climate and improve urban environments.
“In terms of how green spaces are perceived by the general population as being of value, there has been improvement over the last 10-15 years… the nursery industry is growing as well as demand for advanced trees.
"There are plenty of employment opportunities in the industry especially now and in the future as the population realises how important mother nature and the environment is to our well being.
Asked about the future, he believes there is a lot of work to be done but is optimistic.
“We are at the cutting edge of climate change… We are at the forefront of environmental practice here.”
Ellenby Tree Farm has over 250 varieties of advanced trees and is Perth's largest display Nursery for advanced trees.