How does one sum up Hastings' treescape?

Well, suffice to say its plantings are very unlike Auckland's native "urban forests" sown between high rises, where nikau palms mitigate the commercial pointy-shoe amenity that is Queen St. The endemic specimens make for an enviable urban narrative.

Strange then, how a metropolis can embrace such flora while in the provinces - where we're infinitely more connected with our natural environment - we shun it.

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Perhaps we're still burdened by cultural cringe, where imported "otherness" still rates as the superior product.

Given its recent Marine Pde plantings Napier seems to have largely grown up and severed such colonial baggage (despite the Norfolk gauntlet), whereas Hastings remains curiously wary of itself.

The redeveloped Albert Square's green space, for example, which is otherwise lovely, has been planted with fruit trees - possibly due to the district's shortage thereof.

Then again, it fits in well with the city's exotic Anglo-Mediterranean cringe: the olive, the melia, the birch and the windmill palm. Pair this with the ultimate civic cliche - the hanging basket - and we have grounds for a serious rethink.

Maybe there's change afoot. A surprise statement from the Hastings District Council last week revealed native rata was selected as the specimen for new planting on Karamu Rd.

In a council epiphany, rata was chosen "because of their ability to withstand frosts as well as the hot, dry Hawke's Bay summer".

Who'd have thought native trees would be able to handle native conditions?

Still, it's a welcome new direction. Botanically speaking, here's hoping for a more local, local body.