Sunday, 15 September 2019

Street Trees for Living becomes an independent charity

This weekend Street Trees for Living is submitting its annual planting order to the council. Residents can expect nearly two hundred new street trees to appear on the streets this winter, the result of a fantastic amount of work over the last six months by our Committee members, Area Reps, Street Reps, Sponsors, Lewisham council and other partners. 
However, this year, behind the scenes, there have also been momentous developments for us. Street Trees for Living has been a Brockley Society project since 2011, but this year applied to the Charity Commission to become its own charity, and was granted independent charitable status on 4th September 2019. We are extremely pleased that this was achieved with the blessing of Brockley Society, which has supported the project creatively and generously over the years. We will always be grateful for this. Now we are ready for our close links within Brockley Society to morph happily into a new relationship between two independent charities.

Charitable status enables us to take a more strategic look at our aims. For instance, over the coming year we plan to plant one hundred trees outside schools as part of our annual planting list, to streamline the tree request process, and to set up a new website.

Four existing committee members are to be trustees of the new charity. They will be joined by two additional tree enthusiasts who will bring new skills and experience to our decisions and aims. Our charity number and "objects" can be found HERE on the Charity Commission website. Trustees will have a presence on the new website when it goes live. 

For the moment it will be business as usual, and sponsors and volunteers and well-wishers will not notice much difference to how we operate. Please look out for emails if you’re on our mailing list, or watch this space for further details.

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Ahmet Altan - our hidden relationships with trees

From the flyleaf of his book "I Will Never See the World Again": 

Born in 1950, Ahmet Altan is one of Turkey's most important writers. In the purge following the failed coup in July 2016, Altan was sent to prison pending trail for giving 'subliminal messages' in support of the coup. In February 2018, he was sentenced to life in prison without parole for attempting to overthrow the government. 

In a chapter in this book, 'Voyage around my cell', he writes about the picture of mimosa trees pinned to the board in his cell. They sustain him:

"The final stop on my journey are the mimosas. I look at them for a long time.
First I sense their smell, then I hear the rustle of their branches, and the coolness of the wind touches my face. I find myself by a mimosa tree, moving gently in the breeze.
'Have you come?' a voice says to me. 'I've waited for you for a long time.'
And I look at that mimosa tree. I look at it for days, for weeks, for months."

This is a Persian Silk tree - Albizia julibrisin - photographed in a 
Paris park in June 2017. They are members of the Fabaceae family 
of which mimosas are a genus. It was the inspiration for the silk 
trees that now adorn the forecourt of Brockley Station 

Square Barye - Île Saint-Louis - Paris

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Abstract Tree workshops 

This May Little Art Forms will be running creative workshops for children and adults at Gently in Crofton Park to raise money towards the planting of Lewisham street trees through Street Trees for Living.

Little Art Forms is a creative platform that has recently moved to the area. The project was originally set up in Camden Town, North London, by Artist and Art Therapist, Grace Thompson, to bring a sense of community and creativity to carers, adults, children, and babies.

In these playful workshops, metaphorical tree sculptures will be created using geometric shapes, brilliant colour, and tactile ingredients. During the workshops, participants are invited to create abstract tree ornaments using a selection of wood, paint and a range of materials.
All proceeds go towards planting street trees in the local area.

Further info 

Children’s Workshop

10:00am - 11:00am

Sunday 19th May 2019


All ages welcome - 

Children must be accompanied by an adult.

Adult’s Workshop

8:00pm - 9:30pm

Thursday 23rd May 2019


Additional info

..There is the opportunity for people to donate an amount of their choice towards raising money for street trees, follow the link on Little Art Forms (workshop page), for anyone interested but who cannot attend.

Workshop Address:

Gently 405 Brockley Rd, London SE4 2PH

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Update from Forest Hill ward

At the Dartmouth Road Street Party a year ago I met Stuart Checkley who was representing Street Trees for Living, a Brockley Society project which has worked with Lewisham Council since 2012 on a public street-tree funding scheme. The scheme had been rolled out on the Tewkesbury Lodge Estate in Forest Hill, and in other parts of the borough, so there was an established precedent for what I then did with Stuart's support.

Knowing that we had lost several trees in our section of Thorpewood Avenue I began to talk to neighbours and gauge interest in the scheme. I knocked on doors over the Easter holiday period and spoke to as many people as I could. From the twenty-four houses I canvassed fifteen replied positively with pledges of between £10 to £275 (the cost of a tree). I was told we might expect to receive Assembly funding to supplement the money raised.

By the end of May we had identified possible locations and residents were approached to give consent to a tree outside their house. We knew we could fund four trees, and Stuart had given me the names of some suitable varieties that were available. We decided to opt for the same tree in all four sites to give cohesion to the scheme. Himalayan Birch (Betula Utilis Jacquemontii) was chosen for its attractive white bark and delicate canopy. In the Autumn council workmen dug holes and planted stakes and one day in November our trees arrived!

To celebrate their arrival we held a small street party on 1st December with tree dressing, a custom recently revived countrywide, to express our thanks to the trees and build community spirit (see At this event I was pleased to announce that we had raised £1340, enough to fund an extra tree, and this will be put aside for next year. Two other schemes were run concurrently in the immediate area, resulting in the planting of five other trees - another birch, two pear trees (Pyrus Calleryana 'Chanticleer') and two hawthorn trees (Crataegus Laevigata 'Paul's Scarlet').

It is a testament to the enthusiasm of residents that this scheme has succeeded and our area is the richer for it.

Sue Grindlay

Thursday, 11 April 2019

Community engagement in Ladywell

We are very pleased to link up with local activist and blogger Tony Major whose site Ladywell Live is now up and running.

He's very kindly given us a lovely landing page plug here.

The blog contains a wealth of information about initiatives and community building in Ladywell Ward and we'd highly recommend a visit.

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

STfL in the national press

Our work at STfL was given prominent coverage in a hugely supportive double page article in the Sunday Times on 10th March. 

Our very own Xanthe Mosley was quoted widely, as too our friends at Trees for Cities, author and blogger (The Street Tree) Paul Wood ("London is a Forest" is published in May) and the Bristol TREEspect project. 

Here's the article in full. Click on the image for a larger magnification:

Thursday, 21 February 2019

Our 7th planting season - an update

Street Trees for Living is now towards the end of its seventh planting season. By Easter over 200 more street trees will have been planted in the borough of Lewisham, a grand total of 620 since 2012. Once again local residents and businesses have provided most of the funding, with commitments to water the trees for their first years. Local assemblies have also made generous grants. New trees will include Crape Myrtles, a Bastard Service Tree, a Tulip tree, a Persian Ironwood tree, even a Yew in the very centre of Lewisham! Planting has taken place in thirteen wards.

We have recently expanded our committee to ten active members. We have set up a fledgling maintenance team and refined our website and systems to cope with the increasing demand in Lewisham for more street trees. We have updated our website to be as user friendly and informative as we can make it. We will report fully on our activities at our next AGM in April. Further details can be found on the event page (see tab above).

We continue to rely on our close ongoing partnership with Lewisham Council. The campaign requires continuous non-statutory work from the council. We wish to put our appreciation of this and the professionalism of Street Tree Care Ltd, the council’s planting contractors, on public record.

Our work is carried out by volunteers. If you would like to help us to run the campaign and to sustain its future we would be pleased to hear from you. To sponsor tree planting in winter 2019/20 register asap on our website and at the very latest by April 1st 2019. Full details can be found on the 'Sponsor trees' tab above. 

Winter Orange Lime - Brockley Road - plus baubles
December 2018

Monday, 21 January 2019

"Free The Trees!" - St Asaph Road SE4

Who'd have thought that a few hours spent with a bolt-cutter, secateurs, saws and a gaggle of hardy Street Trees for Living committee members on St Asaph's Road SE4 would be so much fun! 

Man with a mission!
For years, the trees along this busy Brockley thoroughfare have had to contend with pavement parking and (for those left languishing in their protective wire cages), being used as litter bins by thoughtless passers-by. 

Well, that all changed last Saturday when we went to town removing all the cages and stakes from the trees along St Asaph Road between the railway bridge and St Norbert Road. Some of the trees had suckered terribly, particularly a reasonably mature ornamental purple plum: 

TLC for the purple plum
Sadly, many of these trees have suffered by being left in cages for too long. Several have suffered bark damage and are likely to fall foul of fungal or bacterial disease:

We removed more than a sack full of assorted vintage litter during the work, including beer cans, crisp and sweet wrappers, the brands of which most of us haven't seen in years!

Anyway, the work is done and we are very happy with the results. It was lovely chatting to the various pedestrians and residents who came out to see what we were doing. We've decided to blitz some more of our neglected local streets in the coming weeks - so keep an eye out for the tree enthusiasts with the bolt cutters!!

Tuesday, 1 January 2019


 - and please note the start today of our planting campaign for winter 2019/20

We are now inviting requests for planting in winter 2019/20 HERE on our blogspot, but ask that requests are registered soon to avoid disappointment. This year the deadline for registration will be much earlier, April 1st 2019, and we will impose a cap before then if requests exceed a manageable number.

Current planting is taking place as usual between October and March, and the timing for individual trees is in most cases unpredictable. About half are yet to be planted, so thanks in advance for any patience needed.

Our great news is that we will have planted over two hundred trees in Lewisham by the end of this present winter, just as we did in the previous one. Our grand total since 2012 is over six hundred. Funding continues to be provided mostly by residents and businesses, and by increasing numbers of local assembly grants. A huge Thank You to all who have been involved in the achievement.

Meanwhile, we continue to look for committee members to take an executive role in our campaign - and specifically to allow us to abolish the cap. Please let us know if this might be you.

Again, thank you for your support and interest, and Happy New Year, from all of us on the committee of Street Trees for Living.