This poignant email was sent by Tony Campbell on 8th November:
Dear Ockendon Road gardener.
I am sorry to have to write with disappointing news. I do so on behalf
of those who have been helping to look after those tree gardens that are
not the individual responsibility of yourself and others.
Sadly, advancing age has finally caught up with some of us and we are no
longer able to range across the whole street, tending to the unadopted,
or ‘orphan’ beds. When Aida moved away from the road, the extent of her
constant care for the six beds between the letter-box and Southgate Road
became all too apparent. We badly miss her, but fully understand that
her priorities must now lie elsewhere.
Since we can no longer cope, particularly with the much increasing
watering burden, we have very reluctantly come to the conclusion that we
are going to have to ‘close down’ most, if not all, those beds that are
not the responsibility of a committed person. We very much hope that
your beds can be continued.
If you have walked along Englefield Road recently you will have seen
that their short-lived tree gardens have been replaced (presumably by
the Council) with a uniform covering of sand-coloured mastic. It seems
that that is likely to be the only practical alternative for us as
well. I am sure we would all agree that leaving empty beds to the
weeds, drinkers and dogs would not be acceptable. That said, the mastic
was not applied around young trees, of which we have quite a number –
not counting the three whose stumps have at last been removed and which
we assume will be re-planted.
So this message is to ask you – as somebody who is currently managing
one or more tree-pits – if you definitely feel able to continue.
We have not yet checked with Islington Council about the procedure
involved in getting the abandoned tree-pits covered in the mastic, but
it seems likely that they would insist on it being a once-only
operation. If that is so, there might be no chance to de-commission a
tree-pit in that way in future.
The gardens were started by Romee Day, back in the 1990s, followed by
one or two others. Extending that to the street as a whole started in
2002, so we have had 16 years to enjoy those overall displays.
We are being no more than realistic in having to call a halt now to the
overall planting, but we very much hope the individually managed tree
gardens will continue well into the future.
Please let us know what you feel about this and if, as we hope, that you
will continue to look after your bed(s).
Tony (76), Julie, Tessa, Louise