Wednesday, 9 July 2008

A Nice Green Leaf: London's Greatest Trees


This is Chris Collins, Blue Peter gardener, and general bundle of energy. He isn't London's best tree, but he knows a bit about the subject. (Incidentally he's in the photo with his wife and, on the right, the actress Doon MacKichan. After our spotting of Rob Brydon at HCPFS, and Doon here, I feel a Steve Coogan sighting at Hidcote can now only be a matter of time.)

I met Chris and Doon at a fundraiser for Trees for Cities, which is a cool charity because it has a cool purpose: a million trees for London before the Olympics. But not just for London. They also plant trees in Reading, Bristol, Manchester, Leeds, Nairobi and Addis Ababa. And plant them properly too, so that they survive car parkers, dogs and droughts.

The next big fund-raising push for Trees for Cities is the Tree-athlon - it's time to register now. But let me explain - it's not actually a triathlon. It's a 5k with tree-planting, which is more my cup of tea. I still feel nervous about having registered though.

In the meantime, though, there's a way of supporting Trees even for couch potatoes like myself. It's called "Great Trees of London" and the idea is to nominate your best inner London tree (in an accessible place). Tell the story: is it the largest, the oldest, a weird shape, or related to some funny local event? Twenty trees will be chosen and marked with plaques - highlighting the importance of big trees even in Central London boroughs. Get on their website and do a
nomination - you could win a tree dedication for someone you know.

2008_0218ahjpeg_2I'll be nominating this one, which is a stone pine at Kew that I just love. You can tell I love it because I've taken a photo that's pretty much
focused on the tree, despite there being a large Henry Moore right next to it.


Trees for Cities are cool, and they come up with great fund-raising ideas. But they also have wonderful staff, as I know having done planting with them. So I will leave you with a picture of me with the irrepressibly joyful Jo Hurst, their London project manager, who is the person who orders the trees and then digs holes for them in the biting cold. You cannot help but smile in her company, and she epitomises the general saying "You're only as good as your staff"; which in Trees for Cities' case, means very good indeed.

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