West Acton Cherry Tree Walk

29 August 2017 to 31 December 2018
Location: Princes Gardens, West Acton
Town: Acton, Ealing
Theme: Community spaces

About this project

We want to create a beautiful, diverse woodland garden with cherry trees and wildflowers in the rundown strip of land that runs between the north and southbound sides of Princes Gardens in West Acton. 

After 80 years this land is badly in need of restoration. Many of the trees are dead or dying. It attracts fly tipping and litter becomes trapped in the bushes and undergrowth. In the evenings there is poor visibility and the area is very dark due to the trees and bushes, which are really overgrown and block the street lighting. Though it provides a barrier for the facing houses from pollution and noise, the vegetation is slowly being strangled by ivy and weed.

Our project will involve replacing the dead and dying trees, cutting back the ivy and brambles, and replanting to create an area that is not only beautiful to look at but has significant community benefits in terms of road safety, preventing crime and antisocial behaviour, protecting air quality and promoting biodiversity and environmental sustainability.

We chose a ‘cherry tree’ theme because many of the flowering cherries planted when the Estate was created have already been lost and the others are nearing the end of their natural lives. By renewing the tree stock, we will reflect the history of the Estate, celebrate its contemporary Japanese community and look ahead to the next 80 years. We have consulted local residents via the residents association website www.hhgera.com/gardens-project, delivered flyers and newsletters to everyone who lives on our Estate, and visited every house that overlooks the central reservation personally. By involving local schools, we want to include an educational element and involvement of pupils in eg creating insect hotels that will form part of the design.

How you can help

The residents are all keen to chip and do a bit of gardening, but this project is far too big for us to take on ourselves without expertise and funding.

Our first priority was to raise the money needed. We launched a crowdfunding campaign via Spacehive (www.spacehive.com/westactoncherrytreewalk), which specialises in community projects like ours, and achieved our target of just under £50,000. Major costs in the budget include reports and design, tree works and clearing undergrowth, green waste disposal, new trees and shrubs, topsoil, fencing/boulders, wildflower meadow turf and Spring bulbs. Spacehive is quite strict about gifts in kind but pledges have included design support by a local landscaping firm, 20 trees by Transport for London, and marketing support by two local businesses. One of those businesses is also funding an environmental study. We are very grateful to all funders, including Ealing's brilliant Transform Your Space fund and the Mayor of London's Greener City fund.

Now we know we have the money, we are finalising the planting plan and will shortly be seeking tenders for an initial pilot section, covering about a quarter of the total area. We would like as much of the work as possible to be done by local businesses and to involve the community in fine tuning and implementing the design. Upkeep once the project is complete will be by Hanger Hill Garden Estate Residents Association (Houses), which already looks after other community gardens including a rose garden, service roads and 'village pond'. We're looking at the options for this but we may well involve volunteers via the community gardening group that already carries out occasional work on the Estate.

We would particularly appreciate advice and help if there is anyone out there who has experience of land restoration like this and knows the potential pitfalls - or the best way to water our newly planted trees far from the nearest taps!

Help us fundraise for this project

Contact information

For more information or to get involved, go to www.hhgera.com/gardens-project or email us via cherrytrees@hhgera.com.

We are on Twitter @PGCherryWalk.

Or go to https://www.spacehive.com/westactoncherrytreewalk to see our crowdfunding page.