Herne Hill Tree Watch - Cherry Blossom is on its way!

The Forum have permission to share an update from Herne Hill Tree Watch, a community group caring for street trees on the Southwark side of Herne Hill. Lots of news on funding, and their plans for empty tree pits that need attention. Their email contact details are below if you'd like to join the group.

The Forum also has contacts with Lambeth tree officers too, so if there are trees on the Lambeth side you think need some support, or you'd like to form a similar group for Lambeth street trees, we can put you in contact with the right people. And make sure you visit the Winterbrook Road cherry trees whilst they are at their best this month!

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New trees for next spring

Herne Hill Tree Watch had a great night at Southwark Council’s annual Cleaner Greener Safer awards on February 25th. We’d originally applied last autumn for a combined £20,000 funding under the scheme to plant 26 street trees in our neighbourhood during winter 2020/21. 

In the event, our two applications were approved and were allocated a total of £12,000 - much more than we'd expected given the high number of bids. That should be enough for 20 or more new trees, which is a terrific result.

Separately, the council also agreed to provide £3,000 for an avenue of Yoshino cherries in Sunray Gardens, requested by Paul Millington, who chairs the park Friends group, and £1,660 for trees for Elmwood Road. 

We’re very grateful for the backing of our ward councillors, Margy Newens and Richard Leeming, and for the support that many of you expressed.

The council will consult with residents about the new street trees over the coming months to finalise numbers, locations and species. We’ll make sure that you’re all involved in the decisions. 

Let us know if you’ve got a particular spot in mind on your street where you think a new tree should go and the type that you’d prefer. Bear in mind that the council’s priority is to fill gaps where a previous tree has been lost.

Lost trees

Three street trees in Herne Hill came down in February, so we now have three extra tree pits to fill. 

The dead handkerchief tree (Davidia involucrata) at the corner of Elmwood Road and Beckwith Road was finally removed; the little photinia outside 51 Hollingbourne Road, a shrubby evergreen with glossy red and green leaves, came down in one of the February storms just days after the council had re-staked it to correct a serious lean into the road; and the dead birch tree at 29 Half Moon Lane was felled, leaving a stump.

Pruning work

We’ve asked the council for their approval to carry out some pruning work in Herne Hill before the end of March, targeted at unwanted growths at the base of our trees.

Many of our local specimens, particularly London planes and ornamental pears (Pyrus calleryana Chanticleer), are ringed with sturdy suckers coming up from the roots and bunches of shoots growing from low down on the trunk, known as epicormic growths. These can divert energy from the rest of the tree and interfere with pedestrians and car owners trying to park.

We’ll be supervised by a qualified horticulturist with arboricultural training and the job will be properly risk-assessed, with a focus on safety.  Please contact us if you’d like to take part.

Paul and Jeff Segal have already had some pruning instruction at Dulwich Orchard, a new community orchard at the village end of Gallery Road. 

Although we were tackling apples and pears, the same techniques apply to most trees. The project is managed by the London Wildlife Trust and our coach was Stephanie Irvine from The Orchard Project in Hackney. If you’d like to be part of the volunteer group at Dulwich Orchard please contact Andrew Wright at awright@wildlondon.org.uk.

Spring blossom

When you’ve got a moment do try to get over to Winterbrook Road, where the buds on the unique avenue of Yoshino cherries (Prunus x yedoensis) are just beginning to open up. The blossom makes a glorious spectacle every early spring but doesn’t last long, so make sure you don’t miss out. 

Less famous than the Winterbrook Yoshinos, of course, but still lovely are the young magnolias on the pavements of Casino Avenue, between no. 30 Casino and the junction with Red Post Hill. They’re also coming into bloom now. And the Chanticleer pears dotted around our streets make a pretty display in spring as well as turning red and gold in autumn.

New trees for spring 2020

We haven't yet seen any new street trees planted in our neighbourhood this season but do let us know if you spot one going in. Here’s a reminder of the  council’s planting schedule for the next few weeks:

  • 114 and 115 Casino Avenue – two aspens (Populus tremula), one either side of the junction with Red Post Hill
  • 6 Elfindale Road – cherry (Prunus Sunset Boulevard)
  • Elfindale Road, between Herne Hill and no. 2 - cherry (Prunus Sunset Boulevard)
  • Elmwood Road (locations to be confirmed) – two silver birches (Betula pendula)
  • Hollingbourne Road, at the corner of Warmington Road - Himalayan birch (Betula jacquemontii)
  • 25 Hollingbourne Road – Yoshino cherry (Prunus x yedoensis)
  • Holmdene Avenue, at the corner of Half Moon Lane – tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera)
  • 38/40 Holmdene Avenue - Japanese Pagoda Tree (Sophora).

These will all need watering when the weather gets hotter and drier, so keep an eye out for them in case they start wilting. Other recently planted saplings will need attention too, among them the Frankfurt Road birches outside nos. 3-5 and 8-10.  

Here’s how to use the green ‘Treegator’ watering bags that you’ll see around the stem: http://www.treegator.com/products/original/install/index.html.

Emailing us

You can now reach us at hhtreewatch@gmail.com instead of using our personal email addresses.