We have a thing about planting trees in circles in Tottenham. There’s the iconic Seven Sisters tree circle on Page Green of course, originally made up of seven elms but now comprising seven hornbeams, and then there’s the Millennial Oak Circle on Lordship Recreation Ground. This ring of 12 oaks was planted at the turn of the millennium at the top south-easterly corner of the Rec. 16 years on, and only ten of the oaks have survived. This is not bad going, considering that one in three newly planted trees do not reach maturity, but it has left a glaring gap in the circle.
Last Saturday (26th November 2016), on the first day of The Tree Council’s National Tree Week, I joined Andy and Beatrix from the Friends of Lordship Rec and Catherine who is also a member of Tottenham Trees to replace the two lost oaks and complete the circle. For the replacements we looked no further than the oak seedlings that had seeded within the circle, hoping they wouldn’t object too strongly to being shifted a few metres sideways. After the recent rains, the ground was relatively easy to dig and before too long we had relocated two baby oaks into their new positions. The next steps were to protect the trees with plastic guards and give them each a wooden stake for stability, before watering generously and applying a thin layer of woodchip mulch around the base to help retain moisture and discourage weeds.
With the circle complete once more, I stepped back to enjoy the view. The theme of this year’s National Tree Week is #ChangingViews and this particular view has certainly changed a lot over the last few decades. The tree circle stands near the base of the Northern Heights – a strip of high land stretching across North London. Turning westwards, I could see all the way to Alexandra Palace through the trees, while ahead of me, to the north, wound the Moselle River – one of London’s formerly ‘lost’ rivers. Recently released from an underground pipe, the river flows through a wildflower meadow in the Rec before disappearing beneath Broadwater Farm Estate to the west – so called because the area used to flood during periods of heavy rainfall.
Sadly, not everyone thought that we had improved the view by completing the oak circle. When Catherine checked on the seedlings two days later she discovered that one had been ripped up by the roots, a pile of dog turds left in its place. Undeterred, and believing that, on balance, most people would rather see more trees than turds in the neighbourhood, the Friends plan to replace the destroyed oak in December and fit more robust metal guards. With a bit of tree care and maintenance, let’s hope that the seedlings grow to maturity and catch up with their fellows in the Millennial Oak Circle – changing views of the landscape for the better, perhaps for centuries to come.