OT: And after all is said and done, you might want to plant a tree

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From the Electronic Telegraph

ISSUE 1636 Saturday 18 December 1999

Urban Gardener

By Elspeth Thompson

FEW of my friends have made firm plans for millennium night, and if all we do is watch the fireworks along the Thames with a bottle of champagne and then come home I shalln't be disappointed. But one thing I shall definitely be doing around that time is planting a tree. Tree-planting seems an excellent way of marking the move into the year 2000 - and it's also an optimistic commitment to the future. Even in a tiny city garden, one might consider a slow-growing small tree such as a silver birch or tree fern, or even a fruit tree on dwarf rootstock which will thrive in a container. It's certainly not too late to start thinking about it now.

We have planted three apple trees at the allotment but for the millennium we shall plant one more tree - probably the white-berried Hupeh rowan (Sorbus hupehensis) - in a large bin in the front garden. Many trees thrive in containers, given good drainage and plenty of well-rotted manure. They will never outgrow your garden and you can enjoy the presence of a tree close to the house without worries about root damage to the foundations. Another advantage is that you can easily take a pot-grown tree with you when you move, and naturalise it if and when you have more space.

I may not have room to plant many trees myself, but I shall be contributing to the cost of planting more throughout the capital by supporting that excellent charity, Trees for London. I make no apologies for giving space to a London organisation, as its story is fascinating, and must surely provide inspiration for others elsewhere in the country. Trees for London was founded just six years ago by four twentysomethings who were frustrated by the lack of trees on many London streets. They started a series of 'rave parties', the profits of which (between #10-#15,000 per year) were used for tree-planting projects, with active co-operation from local authority tree officers.

By 1997, Trees for London had become a serious charity with a full-time director and permanent offices on board HMS Belfast on the Thames.

A pledge was made to plant 20,000 trees in the capital by 2001, and the charity is already ahead of schedule. Projects include transforming neglected land around council flats, planting orchards in school playgrounds, making a 'millennium woodland' in Merton and a possible pinetum, with trees from all five continents, in Victoria Park in east London. Recently the charity worked with Civic Trees contractors to move an avenue of mature tulip trees from the grounds of the Royal Hospital in Chelsea to be replanted in a 'millennium tree ring' in Hackney, east London. The trees, which were replaced by a row of London planes, were moved, on enormous rootballs - one of the biggest operations of its kind ever carried out in London.

The founding spirit of Trees for London is preserved in the imaginative attitude that pervades all its activities. The presence of a top club DJ at planting days ensures the involvement of all sorts of young people who would not otherwise have been interested, and their fund-raising parties are among the best in town. There's also a lively Saplings Club, with special workshops for children under 16, and regular organised 'Walks in the Urban Jungle'.

You can become a Friend of Trees for London by pledging #22 per year towards their work. For #35 a tree will be planted in a London borough of your choice, while #125 dedicates a tree to an individual or company, and #250 plants a whole grove. Contact Trees for London, HMS Belfast, Morgans Lane, Tooley Street, London SE1 2JH (0207-407 0888). For tree-planting projects nationwide, try the Tree Council on 0207-828 9928.

-- Old Git (anon@spamproblems.com), December 20, 1999


Good idea. I've a mahogany seedling that I need to get into the ground, anyway. I've already planted most of the "edible" trees (banana, papaya, orange, tapioca).

-- Mad Monk (madmonk@hawaiian.net), December 20, 1999.

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