An historic event took place in South East London on 22nd May.
The Tree Council honoured Hilly Fields in Brockley with one of only three new trees planted in urban settings to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.
For the event, Nicola Ferguson of the Brockley Society Tree Wardens, with The Friends of Hilly Fields, organised a mass gathering of locals, including girls from Prendergast school and older residents, such as Sybil Phoenix MBE OBE. Others involved included the parks maintenance contractors, Glendale and two mounted policemen.
The Brockley Society, responsible for the care of the Brockley Conservation Area, considers the tree stock a vital component in the special character of the area. On its behalf The Chandos founder set up the Tree Warden committee, with currently five members. Eamonn, on behalf of the committee, set up a very successful website.
The founder with Sybil Phoenix MBE OBE, the girls of Prendergast School & two mounted policemen in Hilly Fields Park, Brockley, with the newly planted decease-resistant elm
The founder's original article written in the Brockley Society's Newsletter, that sparked a neighbourhood wide drive to care for the tree stock:
AM I ALONE IN BEING CONCERNED ABOUT TREES?
Our conservation area has a fine architectural environment but do we really appreciate how important are our glorious trees to its character?
It's not just that they look pleasant but that they are paramount in filtering toxins from the air and providing fresh oxygen. Additionally, they keep us cool in summer; apparent to any commuter returning from the centre of town and also protected in winter. They also provide valuable habitat for wildlife and reduce the amount of dust in the air. Add that to the privacy and reduction in noise pollution they provide and that's more than our best friends can do!
Yet ignorance of the basic fact that they absorb carbon dioxide and give off oxygen is apparently widespread. In a recent pole, nearly a fifth of Britons didn't know this basic fact.
In protecting our trees and ensuring new ones are planted, we are doing our bit not just for our local environment and neighbours but in a small way, for the ecology of the planet, which apparently needs friends.
So what can we do to help? If you have a garden, make sure your trees are happy. Most trees benefit from good pruning, which is likely to make your neighbours happy too. Young trees are particularly vulnerable and may need watering during dry periods and protecting during the winter.
Brockley was once an area of orchards; so if you are thinking of planting a tree, consider a fruit tree. They are usually of manageable size and of course give you free, organic fruit, which will make your supermarket less happy. But remember, neglected trees can become vulnerable to disease or toppling over. This is a particular risk for a fruit ladened tree on a slope during wet and windy weather.
If you don't have a garden, keep a watch out for trees in your area. Be aware of trees that need pruning or a spot where a tree could be planted or is missing and let the council know. All private trees in our conservation area are preserves like the buildings and planning permission is required before any felling is permitted. So try to keep informed of any potential abuse. The BrocSoc keeps an eye on all applications and is always interested in useful information.
Of course, it's not just the trees that benefit from regular pruning. Most hedges and bushes grow better when pruned back at the right time. With most plants this can be done throughout the growing season, after flowering. I don't need to add Londoners, that hedge cutting is good exercise! It is also an art and you don't need to be a sculptor in exotic animals to add a bit of shape and variety to a hedge. This will also keep the pavements clearer and that'll keep anyone happy!
Aside from all their other benefits, the beauty of our trees should not be underestimated in making us feel good and arguably behave better.
Anthony Russell (Wickham Road)