Southwark Park's magnificent London planes (Platanus x hispanica), seen here in golden, Autumn finery, are probably as old as the park itself which opened in 1869
Dear Supporters and Friends,
Where do we start?
Since our last newsletter, we are really excited to have been working with the Rouel Blue Garden Club and Southwark Council’s Tree Section to plant a community orchard on the Rouel Road Estate. London National Park City ranger and Orchard Project mentor, Lesley Wertheimer, has come on board to bring her invaluable experience and guidance to the project. An initial 24 fruit trees from eating apples to apricots will be planted this Autumn with St James’s Primary School and residents of the Rouel Road Estate. The school is installing new gates from the playground which can be opened into the orchard to use as an outdoor classroom and extra play area, but the orchard space will be open to all to spend time in and to care for. Of course, once the trees are established, everyone will be able to benefit from the fruit harvest and enjoy activities such as picking days and workshops.
Planning the orchard with the Rouel Blue Garden Club: the site is behind St James's School
Come and help us!
Rouel Road Estate
Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th December 10.30am - 2.30pm - We'll be planting 24 fruit trees in the new community orchard
Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th December 10.30am - 2.30pm - Help us plant an edible fruiting hedgerow around the edge of the new community orchard. We have 1500 hedge whips to plant so please come and give us a hand.
For all above planting days you can sign up for free via Eventbrite here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/hedgerow-planting-rouel-road-estate-tickets-208868540427
This year The Conservation Volunteers “I Dig Trees” scheme is providing us with 400 native species hedge whips and we’ll be filling gaps and adding to the hedges we planted in 2019 and 2020 in Spa Gardens and Shuttleworth Park on Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th November. If you are free to help, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up and we’ll forward you the details. Everyone is welcome to come along and give us a hand.
Examples of native species hedgerow plants: hawthorn, elder, hazel, dog rose, blackthorn. The hedge in Spa Gardens growing well in July 2021 (bottom left) and planting the same hedge in December 2020 (bottom right).
The Octopus Garden
We are making progress with plans to de-pave the corner of Dunton Road and Lynton Road (opposite the café Crol & Co) to make a street garden, open to all. The garden has been named the Octopus Garden after the building behind the garden, Octopus House. About 30 neighbours have signed up to get involved and we now have permission to go ahead with the project.
The design team have been hard at work. Special thanks to Anna of Southwark Nature Action Volunteers (SNAV) and Sadia.
We should have some exciting updates on the Octopus Garden to come soon, but in the meantime, if you’d like to be kept up to date with our progress or get involved with planting and looking after the new garden, please email email@example.com and we’ll add your name to the Octopus Garden mailgroup.
Karen from the Rouel Blue Garden Club has carried out a survey of all the plants living in the tree-pits and in the lime-mortar on the old wall. Despite its unpromising appearance, we were astonished to discover around 30 different species there.
We asked the council to leave the plants to grow instead of applying weed killer. Recently some light weeding has been carried out to tidy up around the trees, but no herbicide or pesticides were used.
St James’s Churchyard Orchard
There is a small group of fruit trees in St James’s churchyard including pear, apple and plum which we have agreed to help look after. Sadly, three of the trees were damaged by dogs in the summer but they seem to be recovering from the shock and the Tree Section have installed protection around them to prevent further damage. Dog attacks on trees are an all-too-common occurrence in Bermondsey and we have lost a number of trees recently in Shuttleworth Park and Spa Gardens. You can read more about the problem here.
The good news is that some new fruit trees will be planted alongside the existing ones this season. TfB member and London National Park city ranger, Divya aka @FruityWalks has joined up with us to design the orchard and we are hoping to have some special trees to show you soon. We’ll be bringing you more on this in a later post. .
New Trees for Bermondsey
The tree-planting season will soon be underway and you will see new trees appearing in Bermondsey’s parks and green-spaces and on our streets. Contractors will be planting across Southwark but particularly concentrating on the north of the borough in areas of low tree cover. Both heavy-standard street trees and smaller saplings and hedging whips will be planted to replace and extend cover.
Since our inception, we have campaigned to “replace” mature trees which have been felled by the council in recent years, and for existing trees to be retained in developments. Our tagline is “Make room for trees!” whether it is to accommodate existing trees in new developments, extend tree-pits and make pavement build-outs or preserve and create green space suitable for establishing larger-canopied tree species.
Just a small sample of the healthy trees unnecessarily felled or disfigured "to facilitate development" in Bermondsey and Rotherhithe this year
In light of the climate and ecological emergency and with so much building in the pipeline across North Southwark, we would like to hear from anyone with specialist knowledge of planning/arboriculture/ecology or any other relevant skill who is interested in helping us campaign to ensure existing trees are retained and given space in developments and that enough new trees are planted and carefully nurtured so they grow to maturity. Do email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you can help.