Tuesday, 11 December 2018

A virtuoso performance - Russell Miller at the Stephen Lawrence Centre

On a lovely autumn day in October, an enthusiastic group of some 60 tree enthusiasts from Lewisham and outlying areas gathered at the Stephen Lawrence Centre in Brookmill Park, Deptford for an absolutely virtuoso lecture and guided talk by Russell Miller, a hugely experienced arboriculturalist and ecologist, Chair of the Ancient Tree Forum and coordinator of Tree Musketeers in Hackney.

In the light and airy setting of an upstairs room at the centre, Russell gave us a whistle-stop tour of the challenges facing trees planted in our streets, from the rigours of radiant heat traps, how to spot the signs of heat stress, effective watering regimes, the need to mulch and the pros and cons of tree supports, to name but a few of the topics he covered with such aplomb. 

After a delicious lunch, we decamped to the adjacent Brookmill Park and spent an absolutely fascinating hour or so being educated and entertained as Russell demonstrated why he is such an in-demand speaker and educator. His knowledge about the trees species in the park (and associated fauna) was absolutely breath-taking. He fielded all our many questions about the humble London Plane, Copper Beech, Alder, Poplar and two kinds of conifer (which I forget the names of!) and left us wanting to keep him there for as long as possible!

Here, Russell is showing us the tell-tale gall formed by 
nymphs of the Poplar petiole gall aphid, Pemphigus populitranversus
It was a fitting end of year event to mark yet another busy and productive year for Street Trees for Living. This planting season we will be planting a further 200+ street trees across the borough, each with their own guardian/sponsor charged with getting them through those first two critical years after planting. Another development is the very welcome contact and collaboration with other individuals and organisations wanting to learn from our example. New significant contacts include Margate and Thanet, both wanting us to share our methods and learning.

Our gratitude to all the staff of the Stephen Lawrence Centre for their generous help and support in making this event such a success. 

Monday, 3 September 2018

RESERVE NOW! - Special lunch event at Stephen Lawrence Centre SE8 - OCTOBER 7TH

Street Trees for Living invites you to a simple and delicious lunch, with wine, from 11am - 2pm on Sunday 7th October in the reopened Stephen Lawrence Centre in Brookmill Park, Deptford, SE8 4HU.

This is an iconic building which goes beautifully with its tree-filled surroundings. It was designed by David Adjaye architects, and incorporates patterned glass by Turner Prize-winning artist Chris Ofili.

Click here for more pictures, or here for the architect's description. 

We are very pleased to announce that RUSSELL MILLER will be present. He is an experienced arboriculturalist and ecologist, Chair of the Ancient Tree Forum and coordinator of Tree Musketeers in Hackney. He will share his expertise in the following sessions:
  • Young Tree Aftercare - basic tree physiology, common problems with tree establishment, how to recognise them, and what to do about them
  • Everything or Anything You Wanted to Know About Trees (but had no one to ask)
  • Tree & Ecology Walkabout - looking at trees and associated species in the local park - and in case of bad weather, a presentation on Ancient Trees or tree ecology - to be confirmed
The event will be for limited numbers. Tickets at £10 per person may be reserved here.  

As ever thank you very much for your support.

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Watering emergency! What you can do


Some of our street trees are in danger. If you notice any that you think need watering, please let us know straight away at info@streettreesforliving.com.

We sent a reminder last week to our guardians and supporters, but it may be useful to anyone responsible for the life of trees below five years old (we have actually lost some of our older trees as their root systems are still immature). 

Young trees need water TWO OR THREE times a week in the current hot weather. 
20 MEASURED LITRES in one hit is ideal. 

Calendars and phone reminders might help to create a routine. Please note in particular that watering is necessary whatever the weather – rain runs straight off the pavement. 

More about watering is on our website here

Thank you for your time and attention. 

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Deadline approaching for 2018/19 planting - SUNDAY 1st JULY


Please note this deadline for requests to plant street trees in the coming winter 2018/19, anywhere in the borough of Lewisham. To avoid disappointment please register your interest here before the date OR get in touch immediately by email at

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Our first AGM with guest speaker Paul Wood

Last Sunday Street Trees for Living held its first AGM at the Telegraph Hill Centre. The formalities included a Chair’s report that took listeners on a whirlwind tour of the last seven years of the campaign and an imagined future. The committee will post details shortly.

The main attraction of the meeting was a hugely enjoyable illustrated talk by Paul Wood, author of London’s Street Trees, a Guide to the Urban Forest.

It will not be practical to repeat here the many ideas presented to us, but Paul reminded us how London was a blank canvas for street trees only a short time ago. 

He showed us evidence of visionary, if rather surprising, planting over a century ago (most of these trees in the picture below are no longer there - they are London Plane trees and planted much too closely to each other given their mature height and spread). 

Winderemere Road, Muswell Hill
... and reminded us about Councillor Ada Salter who planted over 7,000 trees in 1930s Bermondsey  -

Ada Salter's statue near The Angel pub on the
embankment in Bermondsey
He drew attention to the large range of species available for planting as street trees –

Kousa dogwood Cornus kousa, in West London

Golden Rain tree, koelreuteria paniculata in North London
This was not a prescriptive talk, but Paul urged care in combining species. He offered the view that planned biodiversity works fine across a range of streets, but needs to be considered carefully within just one street, and especially when the architecture of the street is homogeneous. This theme was taken up in the question and answer session. A local resident questioned the new species choice where a tree had been lost from a row of planes in the immediate vicinity of Telegraph Hill. 

There were many more questions than there was time for, and many more buyers for signed copies of his book than available, but Paul can be contacted on his website: https://thestreettree.com/  


++ Paul also asked us to draw attention to the website of the urban tree festival https://urbantreefestival.org/ and its crowd-funding page. This will be live for the next few weeks:  https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/urban-tree-festival ++

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Brockley station planting - a new chapter

It's happened! Last Monday, in a flurry of planting, our choice of trees were planted and now adorn the public realm around Brockley Station, on both the Coulgate and Mantle Road/St Norbert Road sides.

Italian Cypress going in (Cupressus sempervirens)

Having had a rather lively debate amongst ourselves about the relative merits of this or that species, we have tried to do something a little different, particularly around Brockley Common, the green space that falls away from Brockley Station down to Coulgate Street.

In go the Persian Silk Trees 

In total, 16 trees have been planted either side of the tracks, almost all funded by Greater London Assembly (GLA) money (and one private sponsor - for which, Many thanks). 

On the Coulgate side we have planted three Persian Silk Trees (Albizia julibrissin f. rosea) at pavement level, four small leaved limes (Tilia Cordata Winter Orange) at the highest level of the Common, and three Italian Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens) in the lowest level (to be supplemented by two further of the same once we have funding). At the far end of the common, where the vegetable patch used to be, we have planted one of our most favourite trees, an English Oak (Quercus robur). 

A mature Persian Silk Tree in flower (which are delightfully scented)
The feathery flowers of the Persian Silk Tree
In Mantle Road and St Norbert Road we have planted a total of four Hibiscus x resi (sometimes known as the Rose of Sharon) - small attractive flowering trees, and one Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus fastigiata), another of our favourites. 

We are delighted that John Stainer Primary School and pretty much every business on both sides of the station are supporting the planting. Browns of Brockley, Parlez, Noak, Conran Estates and Selencky Parsons Architects have already made a commitment to water the new trees for their first two years. This is a tangible and incredibly valuable contribution to the success of these new plantings and we are hugely grateful to them.

Friday, 10 November 2017

Birds and trees of the Great North Wood - a guest blog

Today, November 3rd, I saw my first Redwing of the winter, in our garden in Forest Hill. It was scratching for food at the base of a Hawthorn tree, which is one of its favourite food sources at this time of year: the other is the Rowan or Mountain Ash, and its interest in both trees is of course their berries.

Redwing - Image courtesy of www.gardenbirdwatching.com
Click on image for larger version
The Redwing is a small Thrush which has a prominent white stripe through its eye and a reddish mark beside its chest, which is part of its red underwing - hence the name Redwing. They come from Scandinavia and most winters there is a small flock of Redwing which fly between Forest Hill and the woods on Sydenham Hill in search of berries.

Both Forest Hill and Sydenham Woods are part of what used to be called the Great North Wood, an ancient oak forest which was first recorded in 1272, but may go back to the last Ice Age (go here to read more on the London Wildlife Trust website). Native Hawthorn and Rowan (Mountain Ash) would have been part of that forest then as they are today. But today it is possible to plant varieties of Rowan and Hawthorn which are better suited to the pavement setting and in this way we can attract woodland wild life from what remains of the Great North wood into our streets and into our everyday lives.

The most exotic Scandinavian winter visitor in search of berries is the Waxwing, which is often seen in hedgerows close to the East Coast, but only rarely in London. Sadly we not very likely to see Waxwings in Lewisham this winter, but there will be a day, and often it is a sunny day, when the berries on a tree close to your house will be just right and Blackbirds, Thrushes and maybe a Redwing will descend to gorge on those berries. It is a wonderful moment, a time to pause, to watch and then maybe to consider planting a Hawthorn or a Rowan.

Stuart Checkley
Guest Blogger, from a garden somewhere in Forest Hill

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Tree Sponsor of the Month - November

This month we are featuring a local business sponsor, Kallars Property Agents who have offices in Brockley and Deptford. 

1. Where is the sponsor tree located and why did you choose that particular site? 

Tressillian Road SE4 and Adelaide Avenue SE4 – these sites were chosen because they are in the conservation area and close to our office so we can help maintain them.   

2. What species of tree did you select and why?

135 TRESSILLIAN ROAD  silver birch (betula pendula) because it’s such a pretty tree with its white bark against the green leaves; 43 ADELAIDE AVENUE  snowy mespilus, serviceberry, juneberry, amelanchier because of the beautiful blossom.

Amelanchier - Adelaide Avenue, SE4

3. Why did you choose to sponsor a tree? Does it mark a special event or is it dedicated to someone?

We chose to sponsor a tree because it was a good way to mark the opening of our new office in Deptford. It was a lovely way to mark the event but still keep the link with Brockley (where Kallars’ first ever office is).

Silver Birch - Tressilian Road, SE4 
4. How long have you lived in the borough of Lewisham? Do you have any special memories you could share about the area?

Kallars as a business have been operating within the Lewisham Borough for 7 years now. The directors of Kallars have been working in the Lewisham Borough for nearly 20 years.  One of the things that springs to mind about the uniqueness of the Lewisham Borough is the “Big Cat” of Catford!  
5. Do you have a favourite tree in the area, apart from your sponsor tree of course? 

There is a beautiful majestic Copper Beech in someone’s front garden on the corner of Harefield Road.

here it is - corner Harefield and Wickham Roads (ed.)
Click for larger image
6. If there were no constraints what tree would you have chosen and why?

A Japanese Maple for the vivid colour and the Oak for its size and strength. 

7. How did you learn about sponsoring a street tree through Street Trees for Living?

We have worked closely with the Brockley Society for many years; I was approached by Dom Eliot the co-chair of the Brockley Society street tree campaign

8. What would you say to someone who is considering sponsoring a street tree?

It is a wonderful idea, especially nice if you would like to mark a special occasion such as a milestone birthday or anniversary.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Tree Sponsor of the Month - October

Here is our October sponsor Roger Lewis. He tells us about his sponsorship of a tree in St Johns at the Deptford end of Brockley ward, planted in winter 2014/15.

1. Where is the sponsor tree located and why did you choose that particular site? 

On Admiral Street, close to the junction with Albyn Road, in St Johns.

2. What species of tree did you select and why?

A silver birch. I'd seen them grown on the residential streets around Sydenham and thought they were a striking addition to the streetscape.

3. Why did you choose to sponsor a tree? Does it mark a special event or is it dedicated to someone?

Selfishly, just a spot that looked like it needed filling very close to my front door!

4. How long have you lived in the borough of Lewisham? Do you have any special memories you could share about the area?

Very nearly five years. My special memories are fairly conventional, but special to me. I have a regular run up around Hilly Fields and never cease to be calmed by the view over towards the North Downs from the top.

5. Do you have a favourite tree in the area, apart from your sponsor tree of course? 

I do. It's the vast, I think tropical, ever-green tree in the forecourt of St Johns Church, in St Johns Vale. I was told once what species it is, but have frustratingly forgotten. It reminds me of an Indian banyan tree [we think it's a Holm Oak - Quercus Ilex - Ed]

6. If there were no constraints what tree would you have chosen and why?

An oak. I think they are beautiful, and so English! We do not have enough of them in Brockley.

7. How did you learn about sponsoring a street tree through Street Trees for Living?

I am Chairman of the St Johns Society, which fundraised to pay for the planting of over twenty trees around St Johns over 2014-15.

8. What would you say to someone who is considering sponsoring a street tree?

It is a lot of money, but what could be a better use for it? It will out-stay you in your community, and provide a lasting contribution to the quality of life of generations of people who succeed you.

Friday, 6 October 2017

Join our Campaign - Lots of Ways

Brockley Society’s Street Trees for Living will be planting 200-250 street trees this winter. They will be not just in Brockley ward but in all these too - Catford South, Crofton Park, Evelyn, Forest Hill, Ladywell, Lewisham Central, New Cross, Rushey Green, Telegraph Hill, and Whitefoot. Planting this winter will include old favourites like silver birch and flowering cherry, but also olive trees, strawberry trees, box elder, hibiscus and lilac. Our new "street reps" raised most of the funding, supplemented by grants from the Greater London Authority, several local assemblies and businesses.

The "street rep" role has enabled the huge increase in numbers of trees planted. During the last year street reps, supported closely by the Street Trees for Living committee, have taken the lead in their streets, brought neighbours and local businesses together to raise money, and made their own decisions on locations and species. The result has been not only greater numbers of trees, but new ideas and a greater sense of local ownership.  We have vacancies in most Lewisham streets. If this interests you please get in touch here.

Our campaign continues to be run entirely by volunteers. We now need to expand our small and friendly remote-working core team. Only some of us have much tree knowledge - most of our work is to plan and manage exciting public events (three this year, all in the blog!), to read and write emails, answer the phone, support our tree guardians and local street reps, and manage information. Please consider joining us. As above, you can get in touch here.

Street Trees for Living works in partnership with Lewisham Council, which facilitates and approves what we do. In our council officer contacts we have found not just invaluable experience and practical support, but enthusiasm and good will. This is despite the effect of an ever-shrinking budget and the habitual council role of punch-bag. Without the council's belief in our work it would be impossible.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Your Vote Counts! Tree of the Year - courtesy of Deptford Folk

Many of our readers will be interested in the activity of the parks user group Deptford Folk. Among many other things, they are doing great work with us to replace lost street trees in Lewisham borough's Evelyn ward. 

Right now Deptford Folk are urgently asking for YOUR VOTE PLEASE!

In a competition run by the Woodland Trust, Deptford Folk have nominated John Evelyn's Mulberry Tree in Sayes Court Park, Lewisham for #TreeOfTheYear

The winner will receive £1000 towards the upkeep of the tree. They are urging Lewisham residents to vote using details in this link -

Deptford Folk had a spot on ITV London News yesterday 13th September, and they want to bring this award to Deptford and South East London. The tree has an interesting history and local legend has it that the tree was planted some 400 years ago by Peter The Great of Russia to atone for a drunken rampage through John Evelyn's garden. John Evelyn was a writer, gardener and diarist who wrote about trees, pollution and street design. His writings are as relevant to today as ever and he is a figure of cultural significance for Lewisham.

The whole campaign ties into the #LoveItLewisham and the Lewisham Borough of Culture bid, so please help Lewisham Council support the campaign for all of Lewisham. 

If you want to know more, Deptford Folk have pictures to share and are happy to provide quotes. More info about them can be found on their website - 


Email hello@deptfordfolk.org to be added to  mailing list. You can follow them on Facebook, Twitter @DeptfordFolk and Instagram #deptfordfolk