Saplings ready for planting in Chiswick House Walled Garden
Guest blog by Karen Liebreich
Abundance London’s year ended with a splurge of tree and hedge planting. The more we read about climate change and loss of biodiversity, the more the evidence reveals that planting stuff is important. Of course, it’s not a solution, but it’s a contribution.
Tree and hedge planting
We were involved in lots of tree and hedge planting over the past weeks. Luckily in most cases other people did the planting and we just helped out, supplied plants, mentored, or, in some cases, simply stood by and encouraged the workers:
We filled the gaps with new saplings on the Sleeping Beauty Hedge along Burlington Lane, and added hundreds of daffs and forget-me-nots. Last November we planted the bulk of the hedge and nearly all of it has survived the first year, in spite of some rubbish tipping and people walking through it. Particular thanks to Rory Harding. One day soon this will be a dense flowering hedge, full of twittering sparrows and wild roses.
Chiswick House walled gardens staff and volunteers planted up hundreds of saplings that Abundance had rashly signed up for from the Conservation Trust. This hedge will provide nourishment and shelter for the bees whose hives are in the northern walled gardens; jars of honey and a shelter belt for insects.
Volunteers installing planters by Gunnersbury tube station; Cherry blossom by Jon Perry
Friends of Harvard Hill Park organised an amazing community planting day attended by some 120 adults, loads of kids, and Lampton Greenspace 360. Councillor Hearn got his hands muddy, and Cllr Giles had to be restrained from wielding her pickaxe too vigorously to remove rocks from the planting area. People came from near and far and Brighton to plant 800 hedging plants and 3 oak trees grown from acorns many years ago by Harry Triton. They also put in some outsize croquet hoops of living willow whose function may become more obvious once they green up in spring. This followed on from an initial planting of 200 trees by Abundance last November, carried out by local primary schools and residents, which led to the formation of a new Friends group which has energetically taken the baton and is running brilliantly with it. We now have a young buffer hedge against the noise and fumes of the A4, which will also provide wildlife habitat and a more cared-for environment.
Staveley Road Blossom Day
A group of residents are working their way down the road weeding and cleaning up the tree pits in preparation for next April’s big Japanese-themed Blossom Day when the road will be closed for our very own Chiswick Hanami; no need to visit Japan and clock up carbon air miles… Hounslow Highways will be replacing a couple of dead trees over the next few weeks, and the Blossom Day team are working on lots of very exciting activities from sushi to raku. If only we knew exactly when the blossom will be at its best…
The piazza flowers receiving some TLC
2019 Abundance achievements – PIazza, Plinth, Party, Planters and Pits
We worked hard to refurbish the piazza on Turnham Green Terrace by replacing the bike racks, planting up a perennial flower meadow, installing lovely big curving benches and launching the W4th Plinth with Sir Peter Blake’s image which will change every 6 months and bring an exciting new artwork to the embankment wall. We closed the street in September (with the Cookbook Festival and all the traders along the road) and held a fun party to launch the piazza.
Along the High Road we installed planters at Gunnersbury Tube station (with Cultivate London), planted up William Hogarth’s statue and the tree pits on Devonshire Road (with Stefano Marinaz Landscape Architecture) – all of which plantings should reveal their true glory next spring. And we picked apples and pears with local schoolchildren through September, which we pressed into juice at the Turnham Green Terrace Street Festival.
Tree pits in Chiswick High Rd and Devonshire Rd
Hounslow declares Climate Emergency – and sows wild flowers
We’ve been working with the Borough on several greening initiatives to help fight the ongoing climate crisis. Over months of meetings and discussions (yawn!) a ‘strategy group’ has been working on a new policy, to be presented to Cabinet in January. In conjunction with other community environment groups, Hounslow Highways, Lampton 360 Greenspace, Co-alo, and the Borough officers, we’ve come up with a swathe of proposals.
One of these is to stop mowing all road verges and encourage wildflowers to improve biodiversity. As some of you may appreciate, changing contractual obligations (25-year PFI!), work habits (mow grass really short!), planting and maintenance techniques, as well as public expectations (weeds, messy leaves, insects!) is a task akin to changing directions on a big tanker approaching Chiswick Bridge… If we do nothing then the effects on our lives may be similarly dramatic.
So these first signs of a real change of direction and attitude should be welcomed with loud cheering, even if these are currently smallish pilot studies; we hope they are a sign of bigger things to come. The following areas have been selected for wildflower treatment. Some have already been rotavated and sown; others will be sown in spring. Notice boards are to be installed explaining what is happening. In Chiswick we have two areas – the grassy area opposite the Steam Packet by the river at Strand-on-the-Green, and raised beds on the Alexandra Gardens estate. Hounslow Highways has packs of seeds with the same mixture available to sow for schools or local groups, so you can participate and grow your own mini-me meadow. Let us know if you’d like a pack.
Bedfont Staines Road (Spinney Drive 2 sections) Big field opposite St Mary’s Bedfont, and also on the opposite side of the Staines Road.
Bedfont Staines Road (opposite library 4 sections) Verges
Brentford Albany Road Outside Berkeley House
Brentford Ealing Road grass areas along Ealing Road
Brentford Ealing Road Front of Cressage House
Brentford High Street Albany Parade opposite Goat Wharf
Brentford High Street (Albany Parade opposite Goat Wharf) Albany Parade opposite Goat Wharf
Brentford High Street J/W Pottery Road/High Street
Chiswick Alexandra Gardens raised beds in front
Chiswick Strand on the Green opposite Hearne Road
Feltham Bedfont Road corner with Redford Close
Feltham Heron Way Verge at j/w A312
Feltham Snakey Lane just before the Texaco garage
Feltham Staines Road (4 sections) Verges
Feltham Sunbury Road j/w Ryland Close
Heston Almorah Road verges
Heston Burns Way verges
Heston Channel Close Entire road
Heston Guernsey Close Entire road
Heston Vicarage Farm Road j/w Cranford Lane
Hounslow West Bath Road Rosemary Aveue to roundabout
Isleworth Twickenham Road just down from the A316, behind bus stop, just across from Cole Park Allotments.
Isleworth Twickenham Road outside Ridgemead Court
We also worked on the Great West Hedge, hoping to plant a buffer all the way along the A4 from Chiswick to Hammersmith (or further!) and the Thames Path Pledge, hoping to enhance and upgrade the river path all through London. These are big, long-term projects, but maybe 2020 will see some progress?
Here’s hoping for a greener New Year.
Karen Liebreich is Director of Abundance London
Read more about Karen Liebreich and about Abundance London
See our profile of Karen Liebreich here
Read a feature about the work of Abundance London here