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  • Writer's pictureTrees for Bermondsey

Our Spring Newsletter

May 2021

Treasuring our old street trees: the130-year-old hybrid black poplars (Populus x canadensis) standing sentry at the junction of Grange Walk and Neckinger with 75-year old native cherries (Prunus avium) in flower in April

Dear Supporters and Friends,

So, we are already in May and the cherry and pear blossom are over, apple and horse chestnut are in bloom and the hawthorn hedges full of nesting birds and their noisy young.

Rouel Road Estate mounds where The Blue Gardening Club and TfB are working together with the council to relax the mowing and hedge-cutting regime

Good news!

We received CIL (Community Infrastructure Levy) funding from South Bermondsey ward to replace the willows on Willow Walk which have disappeared over the last few years. 15 new trees have been planted including Salix alba (white willow), Gleditsia triacanthos “Skyline” (Honey locust) and Salix x sepulcralis “Chrysocoma” (Weeping golden willow).

Some of the new trees on Willow Walk

More good news!

We also received a Cleaner Greener Safer grant to improve a dingy and polluted corner on Dunton Road. We have got together with the Friends of Galleywall Nature Reserve, the Blue Gardening Club and others who received CGS funding in South Bermondsey so that we can all help each other out and work towards our joint goal of creating green corridors and stepping stones through Bermondsey. We are delighted the cafe, Crol & Co, have come on board to support the project.

If you'd like to get involved in helping create a lovely street garden on this unloved corner, please email us at

Some not so good news!

You may remember that last year we were delighted that the council agreed to retain two 40-year-old Black Poplars in Dickens Square Park that were due to be felled along with 96 other trees as part of the park’s refurbishment. We were devastated to discover that during lockdown, the trees had been removed “by mistake” by contractors working for LDA Design, the landscape architects. At time of writing, we are still in discussion with Southwark council to confirm what “redress” is going to be made by the architects for the loss of these irreplaceable trees. We are hopeful that something positive will come of this and Southwark will ensure that LDA will step up with a substantial gesture to make amends for their error. Watch this space!

Tree Requests

You will probably have noticed new trees appearing around Southwark and the good news is that these include 115 street trees requested by you which have already been or will be planted by end of May. If you have any queries or would like to see the list, please email

Certain trees which were requested have not been included this year and we have been told that some of these will be included in 2021 – 22. We hope to get an update once all trees are planted this season.

As well as old favourites like the London plane and lovely native and Japanese flowering cherries, there are some really unusual street trees among those on the lists, including some rarely seen in London such as the Peruvian pepper tree, Californian Incense Cedar, Staghorn sumac and Snowdrop tree. We can’t wait to see them develop.

Caring for new trees

Southwark’s tree-planting contract includes checking that all new trees are adequately protected and cared for during the first three years after planting. This includes watering between March and October. If a tree fails during this 3 year period, the contractor must replace it.

For reasons that we have yet to ascertain, but assume are related to the Covid pandemic, tree-planting was postponed from starting in November 2020 to February 2021 and is ongoing as we write. This means that as we have had such a dry Spring and some trees will have been planted very late, they will need more water than usual. You can help. If you have new trees on your street they will have “Gator” bags which mean that water can drip through slowly to the roots instead of running off.

Just find the slit near the top on the side of the bag (not the large opening at the top) and use a watering can or hose-pipe to fill the bag.

Ideally trees should have about 50 litres a week, but it all helps, including bath or washing up water as long as it doesn’t contain bleach or disinfectant. Don’t be fooled if it rains, the young trees still need watering. It is very difficult to over-water in the summer months, but very easy for young trees to suffer from a lack of water so they don’t thrive in the long-term.

New Southwark Plan - Examination in Public

Trees for Bermondsey replied to the consultation, submitted a joint written statement with the Friends of Burgess Park and took part in the Examination in Public hearings in March.

We argued for:

1. A presumption to retain existing trees in new developments

2. Ensuring successful establishment of new large-canopied trees (not tree-planting alone)

3. Tree “equity” across the borough, so that every community benefits from trees and the eco-system services they provide.

We are optimistic that these policies will be adopted; we want to see an end to the needless destruction of mature trees by developers and for them to be held to account when new trees planted in mitigation as part of planning agreements are not properly cared for.

Tree Walk

Thanks to everyone who came on our virtual tree walk from Borough to Rotherhithe way back in December. Our special thanks go to Paul Wood who took us on this fascinating walk through Bermondsey from his book “London Tree Walks”. Graham Taylor, Ada’s Salter’s biographer and urban fruit tree mapper and forager, Divya Hariramani, who we met along the way, ensured an entertaining and informative evening ensued. We would love to repeat the walk for real once we are all able to meet up again. In the meantime, Paul’s books are available from his website:; Graham’s books “Ada Salter: Pioneer of Ethical Socialism” and “The Mayflower in Britain” are available from most online bookshops. Follow Divya on Instagram @FruityWalks

Don’t miss the Urban Tree Festival (Paul is one of the founders), which runs until 23rd May and has a tree-related event to suit every taste!

Congratulations to Divya aka @FruityWalks who has just been named as one of 50 new National Park City rangers! We have supported a submission from Divya for the Southwark Park Consultation to plant fruit trees, a fruiting hedgerow and to create a fruit map and trail in the park. We hope it will come to er… fruition! There will be lots of opportunities to plant and care for the trees and hedges if the plans are approved. We’ll let you know as soon as there are developments.

Lockdown hedge-mulching in Spa Gardens and Shuttleworth Park March 2021

Huge Thanks

To the Blue Bermondsey BID who have sponsored us for the second year running. We’re looking forward to working with them on a really exciting project greening The Blue and South Bermondsey. More to come soon!


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