Newsletter ArticleBy Oliver Stutter, Senior Arboriculturist, Southwark Council
It's not often that you get £100,000 worth of good news! But that is the case for tree planting in Southwark this year as part of Community Council funding. Last planting season (November-March) we successfully replaced all street trees which were dead, dying, vandalised or just plain vacant, something of a first amongst London Boroughs.
But the effort doesn't stop there - of the 12,147 street trees surveyed and logged on our database, there is a 5% per annum loss through natural and not so natural death, chiefly car damage, vandalism and drought. That leaves 600 trees to be replaced every year just to maintain what we have: less pollution, added value to property and a greener and more 'liveable' environment, to name only a few of the benefits.
Members of the Dulwich Society can request trees where they think they will make an improvement, such as on streets currently bereft of tree cover or specimen planting at sites where the community feels a tree could make an impact. Sometimes trees give their names to local roads, Elmwood Road, Oaks Avenue and Chestnut Road are local examples, and local character can be determined and enhanced by the right species in the right location thus adding to the general appeal and distinction of a neighbourhood (or genus loci as the Romans defined it).
Below is a list of tree species which have ' most favoured status' and the reasons why. Ideally, newly planted sites should only have one or two species in order to avoid the 'spotty' look of some streets where tree form and colour are haphazard and less appealing.
The major proviso in actually getting new sites planted is considering the residents' point of view - the potential obstruction of light, access, and increasingly, satellite TV reception. Added to these obstacles to planting are sight lines at junctions, lamp columns and CCTV cameras. If these are not a problem then underground services (especially cable TV) can be the final nail in the coffin. Space for trees is an ever decreasing opportunity.
Once planted, we water trees using a portable bowser, with 45 litres per visit, six times a year. Over the past few years, summer droughts have become more severe so local residents are more than welcome to do their bit to help trees establish in their vital first year. Used bathwater is an especially good source for phosphates - should you feel inclined.
Please feel free to contact me with any thoughts and requests:-
Streetscene, 151 Walworth Road, SE17 1RY
Tree Species Currently Planted In the London Borough of Southwark
Common Name Scientific name
Horse Chestnut Aesculus hippocastanum White candelabra flowers with distinctive lobed leaves. Up to 20 metres mature height. Parks and verges
Grey Alder Alnus incana Upright form with very attractive feathery leaves and conspicuously red-tinted, pendulous catkins. 10-15 metres
Himalayan Birch Betula jacquemontii Upright form with spectacularly white bark and delicate branching. 10-15 metres
Hornbeam Carpinus betulus Native species, similar to Beech with smooth bark, sinous trunk, graceful branching habit. 10-20 metres. Major roads, parks and verges.
Indian Bean Tree Catalpa bignoniodes Sparsley branching, low habit with foxglove-like white flowers in late summer and broad, heart shaped leaves. 10 -20 metres.
Nettle Tree Celtis australis Small to medium tree with smooth trunk, broad crown and serrated oval leaves. Very tolerant of urban pollution and thriving in dry conditions once established. 10-15 metres
Broad-leafed Cockspurthorn Crateagus x prunifolia Notable for its persistent, showy fruit, polished oval leaves and rich autumn colour. Small and compact habit 5-10 metres.
Common Ash Fraxinus excelsior Large native broad-crowned tree with pinnate feathery leaves and very tolerant of pollution. 20 metres, major roads, parks and verges.
Chinese Privet Ligustrum lucidum Small to medium evergreen with long pointed leaves and white flowers in autumn. Tolerant of most soils and useful in restricted space. Often seen in secluded courtyards, 10 metres.
Foxglove Tree Paulownia tomentosa Very large heart-shaped leaves, open crowned tree with remarkable violet blue flowers. Fast growing but requiring shelter from strong winds, 15 metres.
Turkey Oak Quercus cerris Large, fast growing and gracefully branched tree tolerant of harsh conditions. 20 metres, parks and verges.
Evergreen Oak Quercus ilex Highly drought and pollution resistant with dense round habit. 20 metres, parks and verges.
English Oak Quercus robur Large broad crowned native. Should be planted where space permits due to immense biodiversity value. 20 metres, parks and verges
Black Locust Robinia pseudoacacia Medium tree with broadly rounded habit and showy lilac pendulous flowers. Tolerant of poor soil and drought. 15-20 metres.
Japanese Pagoda Tree Sophora japonica Wide spreading crown with hanging white pea-like flowers and grey pods. Drought resistant, once established. 15-20 metres, major roads, parks and verges.
Maidenhair Ginko biloba Initially conical in form with distinctive fan-shaped leaves turning a clear tallow in autumn. 10-20 metres, tolerates pollution and poor soil.
Honey-locust Gleditsia triacanthos Slender, upright form with frond-like leaves and long shiny brown pods. 10-20 metres.
Sweet Gum Liquidambar stryraciflua Best known for its distinctive maple-like leaves, corky bark and remarkable crimson autumn colour. 20-25 metres.
Tulip Tree Liriodendron tulipifera A beautiful medium tree characterized by its distinctive, oddly shaped three-lobed leaves which turn a rich butter-yellow in autumn. The peculiar flowers are tulip shaped, yellow-green banded with orange at the base but are not produced on young trees. 10-15 metres.
Dawn Redwood Metasequoia glyptostroboides A vigorous deciduous conifer of conical habit when young, with shaggy, cinnamon-brown bark. The feathery flowers are bright green becoming tawny pink and gold in autumn. 25 metres, major roads, parks and verges.
London Plane Platanus x hispanica The large, noble tree familiar to many European cities. Large palmate leaves and attractive mottled or patchwork flaking bark. Rounded seed clusters hang like baubles on the branches from early summer to the following spring. Extensively planted because of its tolerance of atmospheric pollution and severe pruning. 30+ metres, major roads and verges.
Cherry, variety Prunus spp. 5-12 metres depending on the variety. Dozens to chose from with showy flowers of differing colour and season.
Ornamental Pear Pyrus calleryana 'Chanticleer' 5-10 metres, abundant white flowers and glossy waxy leaves with no or very small fruit. Ideal small street tree due to its vigour and ability to survive cold, pollution and very poor soil.
Mongolian Lime Tilia mongolica Small to medium sized tree of compact rounded form with smooth, reddish shoots. Attractive ivy-like glossy green leaves turn bright yellow in autumn. 10-15 metres
Caucasian Lime Tilia x euchlora A medium sized tree with smooth green twigs and glossy oval leaves, an elegant form with arching branches. It is a 'clean' lime free of aphids, 10-15 metres