Tuesday, 24 March 2015

The sap is rising - again!

On Sunday 22nd March we held the second of our planned quarterly gatherings at which we present updates about the work of the Tree Committee and the work we are doing to get more street trees planted. 

We were again hosted by Lesley and her team at The Talbot pub in Tyrwhitt Road, SE4 and we had about thirty people join us. Some were very local and others had travelled in from Lewisham, Lee, and Crofton Park. We were very pleased to have Cllr John Coughlin (the Green Party) join us, and John Thompson, Head of Green Scene at Lewisham Council. Both were available for questions at the end of the informal presentations. 

Our administrator Dom Eliot outlined the work the committee has done in getting this last round of 36 trees planted, and the on-going support needed to continue the momentum. Eamonn gave a brief presentation highlighting the uses we are making of this blog, which is now the central point of reference for all matters related to the care of our public space trees in Brockley and the immediate vicinity. We have now clocked up over 18,000 page visits since we started the blog in 2012 and we are read very widely, in fact, globally, according to the stats available to us!

Also announced on Sunday is a scheme to encourage local residents to consider sponsoring a tree in commemoration - to celebrate a a birth, or a marriage, or to mark the death of a loved one for example. The Tree Committee is still formulating this initiative, and we will be posting details on the blog in the next weeks.

Offers of help were made to get all of our street trees labelled and photographed, and a possible Twitter account manager also came forward! We also had a number of concrete offers of sponsorship there and then, for which we are most grateful. 

All in all, these gatherings are proving a valuable vehicle for galvanising support and getting the message out about our work. We are now in touch with nearly 200 people who have expressed an interest in protecting and increasing our tree stock, and we are talking to a number of representatives of other local community groups interested in our work. 

Please drop us a line or get in touch via the "Getting involved" or "Contacts" tabs above. If you'd just like to be on our mailing list, go to "Mailing List sign-up" tab. 

We'd love to hear from you!

Delicious fare, again provided by Kara

all of us on The Tree Committee
The Brockley Society

Friday, 13 March 2015

Lumbering giants - our large species trees

Whilst we are delighted to see so many new trees going into the ground, it's worth saying something about the stealthy and steady losses we are suffering of some of our mature trees. 

Last year another of the stately Silver Maples that lines Harefield Road was lost (via an application to fell following a subsidence claim), and we had a rather fraught time dealing with the (understandable) public reaction to the loss of a very large Eucalyptus in a back garden on Tyrwhitt Road (which also went through planning consent). 
Before (May 2014) and after (Feb 2015)
These are the losses that we can see, and easily know about, but they are a small proportion of the private land trees being lost, legitimately (after applications to fell via the planning process) and illegally (by unscrupulous landlords and owners) - see our 2012 post "Chainsaw Massacre" here

These large trees were the subject of a report in 2012 by Ciria, a not-for-profit research and information association encompassing the construction and built environment industries entitled "The Benefits of Large Species Trees in Urban Landscapes: a costing, design and management guide". It is an impressive piece of work, co-authored by Tom Armour from Arup who presented at our Trees in the City conference in Spring 2014. 

There is too much relevant research to detail here, but this is from the Executive Summary:
The Benefits of large species trees
Due to their size and stature, large species trees are particularly effective in urban areas in regulating the microclimate, attenuating and filtering water, attenuating noise and improving air quality and sequestering carbon. Mature trees also provide a significant habitat resource, enriching biodiversity in urban areas and promoting access to nature. The wide range of social and environmental benefits that large species trees bring to the urban environment can be summarised as follows:
  • improved physical health 
  • improved mental health and well-being 
  • improved hospital recovery rates 
  • improved workplace productivity 
  • improved childhood development and well-being 
  • enhanced social cohesion 
  • reduced flood damage 
  • cleaner water
Our larger species trees are usually confined to particular streets (the London Plane trees around St. Margaret's Road and the perimeter of Hilly Fields on Hilly Fields Crescent, and Lewisham Way end of Breakspears Road and along the entirety of Wickham Road for example). 

Hilly Fields Crescent - boundary of Hilly Fields - London Plane trees
planted by the Victorian founders of the park

London Plane trees along Cranfield Road boundary of St Peter's Church

And of course, there are the mature Silver Maples on Harefield Road and in the middle of Manor Avenue that provide such spectacular autumn colour: 
Silver Maple - Manor Avenue

There are also a number of mature trees in private gardens that add hugely to the green landscape in and around the conservation area. There are notable Beech trees in Wickham, Breakspears and Tressilian Roads, and some stunning mature Horse Chestnut trees lining the Brockley end of Wickham Road shielding the social housing blocks from the worst of the noise and pollution from the often heavy traffic along this road.

Top left: Copper Beech tree corner Harefield Road & Wickham Road;
Top right: Beech tree on Wickham Road;
Lower: two unusually large mature flowering cherry trees in Geoffrey Road - all SE4
There is a rather nice post-script to this post: when the mature Silver Maple was removed in Harefield Road last summer, we learned that the insurance company that had pursued the case was offering to plant a replacement, so we are now happy to see that a rather lovely Hornbeam has been planted close by. Now that's cause for celebration! 

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Heralds of spring

It's a clear sign that spring is here when the Cherry Plum trees around the conservation area start to come into flower. 

Wickham Road, SE4
The scientific name for this tree is Prunus cerasifera and it is part of the Rosaceae family (most of the stone fruits fall in the Prunus genus). There is an impressive avenue of the purple leaved variety of this tree in Drakefell Road (on the way to Telegraph Hill).

Cranfield Road, SE4
On this day there was something extra special about these trees; they were full of honey bees! A rather impressive mature specimen in a front garden on Breakspears Road was so full of bees that you could hear them! Have a listen! 

Monday, 9 March 2015

Mission accomplished!

A special day for the Brockley Society Tree Committee and our latest group of sponsors and donors. This Silver Birch was planted on Crescent Way, Brockley today and is the last of 36 street trees to be planted by The Brockley Society in this planting season. 

The picture shows Dionyssis Dimitrakopoulos, the volunteer warden of the tree who will water and keep an eye on it as part of the planting scheme we are running in association with Lewisham Council/Green Scene.

We are looking forward to gathering more interest from local residents and businesses over the course of this year and planning for the 2015/16 planting season has already begun. 

The Tree Committee
The Brockley Society

Monday, 2 March 2015

2015 spring - record new street tree plantings

With the dwindling funds available for Lewisham Council to replace and plant new street trees, local residents have been coming on board in ever greater numbers to purchase/part-fund new trees for their streets. 

This year, along with a host of individuals, households and neighbourly collectives, we have also been greatly helped by an extremely generous individual donor who has come forward. We were also successful in making an application to the Brockley Ward Assembly for funds. 

All told, we are just completing the planting of THIRTY SIX new street trees in and around the conservation area. This is an amazing achievement, and we are hopeful that we can continue this level of planting in the coming year. What is also evident is that the model is spreading out to other parts of the borough, including St Johns, Ladywell and Crofton Park. 

In the current planting season, 17 out of the 36 plantings which we have facilitated are actually outside the conservation area, specifically in the following streets - Arabin Road, Brockley Cross, Ermine Road, Malpas Road, Millmark Grove, Shardeloes Road, and Strickland Street. In the previous two planting seasons, the figure is 11 trees outside the conservation area, out of 16 total planted. So as you can see, we are doing our best to cast our net as widely as possible (details of where these new trees have been planted will be uploaded to the map on the "New Plantings" tab on our blog in due course). 

One of three Juneberry trees (Snowy Mespilus) planted in 
Breakspears Road on February 6th, with members of the Glendale 
planting team that work with Lewisham Council, and Nicola 
Ferguson of Brockley Society Tree Committee
Realistically, with the ongoing losses of existing street tree stock (due to old age and disease), this is the only way we will maintain the leafy character of our streets and ensure that the local street environment is maintained and, hopefully, enhanced. 

With thanks to Lewisham Council's Green Scene team and Glendale, their contractors, for their work in getting these trees in the ground over the last few weeks.

Postscript: an earlier version of this post suggested that these three trees planted in Breakspears Road were sweet almonds. Sadly, this was not the case as we discovered when we checked the actual planting schedule, but the Juneberry, or Amelanchiers Lamarckii, is also a beautiful early flowering small tree - it has bright red berries that the birds feast on in late May, early June. 

Calling all tree lovers!

Proudly announcing the second of our Street Tree Enthusiasts gatherings following the lively and productive inauguration of these events last November. Lots of news to talk about, and the announcement of our commemorative tree initiative. 

Come and join us!

Tree Committee event

Sunday March 22nd  11.30am – 12.30pm
The Talbot
2 Tyrwhitt Road, Brockley, SE4 1QG - just in from Lewisham Way
 tea/coffee and cakes provided
 Following the success of our first event in November 2014, the Tree Committee is once again hoping to meet anyone who wants to see new street trees in Brockley.  At the same time we are launching our commemorative tree scheme.
BrocSoc Tree Committee in conjunction with the Tree Council and Lewisham Council's Tree Warden scheme