Camden Council hate trees. They pollard some of them every year so that many trees are just trunks without branches and just the occasional leaf. A pollarded Plane tree is a tragic sight. A pollarded cherry is sacrilege. Not content with pollarding the huge beautiful cherry in my street, they then cut it down altogether. It had been the ONLY beautiful thing in a street full of litter, dog shit, scaffolding, uncollected bins stinking in the sun, fly tipping and endless traffic. It attracted goldfinches who gathered in it and chattered away all day with great cheer. A year later, the destroyed cherry was replaced with a birch. I’ve got nothing against birches (all trees are sacred to me) but a skinny white tree with a trunk an inch in diameter has zero shade. And with a second year of drought in London and blindingly hot cement days, shade is urgently required.
The Camden Orcs clearly have something against cherries. A skinny little cherry was planted a couple of years ago on Russell Square in the hottest part, receiving baking hot sunshine day after day. After a dry winter and even drier spring, I asked one of the garden workmen (I wouldn’t call them gardeners) on the square to please water the tree – he was watering everything else, after all. But he didn’t and the tree died. So they took away the tree’s plaque (it had been dedicated to someone), uprooted it and planted another cherry in its place, full of beautiful pink flowers. But it was another dry winter and another even drier spring and the buds it had clung to all winter never opened and the tree died. So once again there is a dead cherry on the square, unwatered, unloved, uncared for. Will they replace it a third time?
Leaving dead saplings for a long time is a favourite of Camden’s. Gordon Square has had an appalling decade, losing at least six trees that I can think of. Two came down in storms but the others were chopped down mercilessly. The back part of the square, closest to the IOA, has become a dry desert where once it had been a riot of beautiful blossoms every spring. In this desert, a single sapling was planted. It never made a leaf. It was dead before it ever had a chance. And it has been left there for THREE YEARS, indicating that no one has bothered to check if it has survived.
No one takes care of the trees. Marchmont Street has three dead saplings and Tavistock Square loses a pretty flowering tree at least once a year, until eventually there’ll be nothing left except the hideously pollarded limes. I’ve lost count how many trees I’ve seen die – and I’m only talking about my immediate area, a few blocks from my flat. I’m not talking about ALL of Camden or even the whole of London. It’s just Bloomsbury where big trees are constantly being hacked down and replaced by saplings which die almost at once.
I suppose people would only care if it was kittens. No one cares about trees. And London, in the baking heat, the sickening filth of humidity and pollution, and the inhumane stretches of concrete deserts needs more trees than it needs more people.