Monday, 25 February 2013

Spade works ...

Two major events in March in the conservation area: 

Join us on Hilly Fields on Saturday 16th March to help plant over 70m of fruit hedge being donated by The Tree Council in recognition of the work of The Brockley Society Tree Wardens and local activists who are involved in promoting the health of our public space trees. 

The planting will be in the vicinity of the Hilly Fields Orchard (behind the stone circle) with volunteers gathering at the Hilly Fields Café at 10.30. ALL WELCOME. Wear sturdy shoes and be prepared for all weathers! A light lunch will be served at the café for morning volunteers (kindly provided by The Tree Council), then at 13.00, Jon Stokes, a knowledgeable expert from The Tree Council will conduct a walkabout in Hilly Fields and neighbouring streets to point out our notable tree specimens and talk about the challenges we face looking after them. We will wrap up about 15.00.

This project marks the highly successful and on-going relationship between The Brockley Society Tree Wardens and The Tree Council who are incredibly supportive of the work we are doing to protect and increase the stock and diversity of trees in the conservation area (and beyond). 

We have been greatly helped by the team from Lewisham Council's Green Scene (who are responsible for all green space work in the borough, including the maintenance of street trees), their contractors, Glendale, the hugely supportive Friends of Hilly Fields, and pupils and staff from Prendergast Hilly Fields College who will be helping to prepare the ground and plant the hedge.

Secondly, thirteen new trees will be planted in the conservation area to replace many street trees removed last summer due to disease. These have all been match-funded with local residents contributing 50% of the cost, and Lewisham Council the other 50%. More details of these plantings will be posted here, so stay tuned!

Anthony, Nicola, James and Eamonn
Tree Wardens
The Brockley Society

PS. See here for a report on the day

Friday, 1 February 2013

Archive: Brockley Society Newsletter article - autumn 2010

This article was originally published in the Brockley Society Newsletter in the autumn of 2010


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 to that 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 poll, 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 an eye on the 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 protected like the buildings and require planning permission before any felling or pruning is permitted. So please keep us informed of any potential abuse. The BrocSoc keeps an eye on all applications and is always interested in any helpful information you may have.

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 everyone happy!

Aside from all their other benefits, the beauty of our trees should not be underestimated in helping to make us feel good and (arguably) better behaved!

Anthony Russell 
Tree Warden
The Brockley Society