Fitzrovia – Pity the London Plane tree in Whitfield Gardens

Tree surgeons with chainsaws hang from ropes from a Plane tree in Whitfield Gardens to cut branches along with the spring growth.

Camden Council again carried out tree surgery to protected trees in Whitfield Gardens during the spring growth period without regard for their own tree protection policies. Tree surgeons used chainsaws at the end of April to cut off branches during routine tree maintenance. According to Camden’s own regulations the work should only be done during the “dormant period” and not during the spring.

Carrying out works during the spring also disturbs wildlife in the trees and therefore reduces the local biodiversity of an area.

The council did the same thing two years’ ago to the other trees in the gardens which resulted in the trees failing to develop leafy canopies. Two years on and the other trees have still developed poor leaf growth. Whitfield Gardens is already at the fag end of Camden Council’s open spaces with its rats, over-population of pigeons, grafitti and cracked paving stones. In December, insult was added to injury when the council nailed fairy lights in the trees with steel staples. A campaign by residents and Fitzrovia News had the lights removed.

Works to improve the gardens are due to start shortly. The gardens will be closed during the renovation. In the meantime, while we may pity the poor London Plane tree, it would be good to remember the words of poet and novelist Amy Levy celebrating our green friend.

GREEN is the plane-tree in the square,
The other trees are brown ;
They droop and pine for country air ;
The plane-tree loves the town.

Here from my garret-pane, I mark
The plane-tree bud and blow,

Shed her recuperative bark,
And spread her shade below.

Among her branches, in and out,

The city breezes play ;
The dun fog wraps her round about ;

Above, the smoke curls grey.

Others the country take for choice,
And hold the town in scorn ;

But she has listened to the voice
On city breezes borne.

— by Amy Levy, from A London Plane-Tree and Other Verse (1889)

Read the other poems in the collection at the internet archive http://www.archive.org/details/londonplanetree00levy

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