Image above: Alison Wood; Some of the trees being planted
Alison Wood, who lived in Chiswick for many years, decided when she knew she was dying of cancer to do something positive that would leave a legacy for future generations. She left a sum of money to pay for the planting of a wood and planned it with her husband Richard and daughters Lucy and Polly.
Planting for Alison’s Wood (pun intended – hers) started last week on Acton Green. She had approached not-for-profit environmental group Abundance London to do the planting. Director Karen Liebreich said:
“Two years ago she heard that her days were short, and determinedly set about putting her affairs in order. One of the things she wanted most to do was to plant a forest, partly to benefit nature, partly so that her family, husband Richard Atkinson and daughters Lucy and Polly, would have somewhere to come and remember, partly for the community to enjoy.
“After much hunting for the right site, she contacted Abundance London and we were able to liaise with Ealing Council to find a wonderful place for her and work together on the kind of woodland we would plant. Before her death we were able to share the planting plans and this week the first trees and plants went in.
“We are delighted to have been able to help bring this project to realisation (and of course we are always happy to improve the biodiversity and beauty of Chiswick). The pun of planting Alison Wood’s Wood is not lost on us, as it was not lost on her. Although we only knew Alison in her final months it was a pleasure and a privilege to work with such an amazing person, and we are only sorry it was in such circumstances and for such a short time.”
Image above: Alison’s daughter Lucy Atkinson digging over the ground
“That she used the limited amount of time and energy she had on this makes me very proud” – Lucy Atkinson
Alison’s daughter Lucy (27), who grew up in Chiswick, told The Chiswick Calendar:
“We’re so happy there’s a place that not just me and my family can enjoy, but everyone can. I love the idea that random passers-by will be enjoying the trees and the flowers and I can sit there and do a crossword and feel like I’m doing it with her”.
It was her mother’s idea, she told us. Alison discussed it with her husband and daughters and went on site visits when she was feeling well enough.
“She was very certain she wanted this. It’s just such an honour to be able to fulfil her wishes and I’m proud that’s the kind of thing she wanted to do.
“That she used the limited amount of time and energy she had on this makes me very proud”.
Alison died in April at the age of 62, having been diagnosed with cancer in May 2019. She had lived in Chiswick since the 1980s and worked in publishing. She used to pass the site of her memorial wood on her way to the train station.
Lucy told us:
“This is such a joyful thing. It was very cool to take part in the planting and exciting to see it taking shape.
“It’s about her, but not about her. It’s about us but not about us. It will be here long after all of us are gone. It’s a good reminder of where we are in the circle of things”.
Image above: Workmen starting the planting
The woodland on Acton Green Common will mainly comprise birch and pear trees, underplanted with cyclamen, bluebells, ferns and geraniums, as well as hosts of spring bulbs.
“The area is sheltered from the road by a series of hibernacula, log piles that provide an embracing structure and – more importantly – overwintering places for wildlife” said Karen Liebreich, “and there will be a couple of new benches for visitors to rest and enjoy the area. Wildflower areas will be left to naturalise”.
“Alison’s Wood will take shape over the next few months and years and develop into a valuable, tranquil and beautiful part of Chiswick.”
Ealing Council, and especially their designer Tom Jennings, she said, had been wonderfully welcoming to the idea.
“Over the years the woodland will evolve and grow until Alison’s Wood is a natural and mature part of Chiswick, long after we current inhabitants have passed on”.
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