One hundred and fifty years in the life of a tree. Plus the last few hours.

My last post showed the beautiful view from my studio and across the valley towards the sea.
The Cherry Tree pictured was planted in a garden created by Marianne North, who also helped create Kew Gardens in London. The morning after I posted that blog, I was woken up by the sound of chainsaws from this garden who now is partly owned by The Sacred Heart Catholic School in Hastings.

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But the area is part of a Conservation Area, and you need planning permission to cut down trees. Besides, who in their right mind would cut down two mature trees covered in ivy in the middle of nesting time?
After having listened to this noise for hours, too stressed out to be able to concentrate on doing any work in the studio, I decided to pop across the road.

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I called out to the contractors who told me that they did not need planning permission.  I insisted they did, and while I phoned the Headmaster to find out what was going on, they stopped work. They were quite sweet, really.
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But instead of the Headmaster, a very irate caretaker appears and he tells us to go away and mind our own business. The School does not need planning permission to carry out tree work, and we are just ignorant , silly women who are making a fuss over nothing.
At this point quite a few people had gathered around and here he is seen laying in to one of them.
He orders the tree work to continue.  I phone the Council to find out what is going on, and I am told that of course they need permission to work on trees in a conservation area. They advise me that a Planner will be found who can come to check out the situation and speak to the Headmaster.
I call the school to plead with them to halt the work until the Planning Officer has arrived. But they don’t stop the work.
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Instead the headteacher appears at the gates and shouts at us to go away. He keeps asking us where we live, and who we are, and for I while I feel as though I am being threatened by a mobster.
We ask him if he has planning permission, and he repeats the caretakers opinion that we are ignorant women and should mind our own business. We insist we will go away once we know if he has a permission to destroy trees planted by the lady who collected trees and plants with Darwin and helped create Kew Gardens.
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We say they’d better stop work until the Planning Officer arrives, or we’ll call the police.  The Headmaster laughs at us and turns away to order the work to re-commence. But he is making frantic calls on his mobile…
And so are we; to the police.
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But when the police finally arrive; it is too late. Three trees were cut down that day.
My friends and I go for a coffee, and while we are at the cafe’ I pick up the local paper and spot an article about how a Christian organization in a nearby town, Bexhill, is busy creating a community garden where people can find peace and contemplation. There is a certain irony in that two church organizations in neighbouring towns are behaving in such opposite ways – one church creating a garden in Bexhill while the other one, in Hastings, is busy destroying one.

This is a link to the area concerned…

I would like to end this sad tale on a happy note; but I can’t find one. Except this; the Swifts have arrived! Hurling themselves through the air in jubilant celebration of Spring and the beauty of being alive. I’ll settle for that, I think.

www.annakeiller.com

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About Anna

I am a ceramic sculptor living on the South coast near London, England. My work is influenced by my experience of the earth as a living being and seeing how we are all connected with eachother and with the things that surround us. I create ceramic torsos using molochite clay which I often smokefire in galvanised dustbins. I also make House Gods to protect and amuse, and Fat Birds - little smokefired sculptures that tell the story about what it is like to be a fat bird at peace with its surroundings.
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25 Responses to One hundred and fifty years in the life of a tree. Plus the last few hours.

  1. Alastair says:

    I find it disgusting that this man would be like this. If it is a catholic school, he is obviously a practising catholic. Which just goes to show WHY they can be despised. I hope the council hits them where it hurts them the most – their wallets.

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  2. a tragedy and total lack of respect for any form of heritage or history. yes, disgusting behaviour, and from a ‘headmaster’?? what a role model.

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    • Anna says:

      I was told that on the same day they were teaching the kids about nature preservation and hedgerows. If the teachers could be heard above the din of the chainsaws operating a few yards away. Why could they at least not have waited to half term?

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  3. I do not like this…. 😦 should have tied yourself to the freaking tree until the police came. lol thats what we ‘treehuggers’ do!!!

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  4. Elaine says:

    That is so sad Anna. Even if they are prosecuted the tree is gone 😦 But I hope they are prosecuted. Maybe contact Kew Gardens and see whether they can help, if the planter was associated with them as well?

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    • Anna says:

      Not just the planter; the co- creator of Kew Gardens…I doubt they can intervene in legal matters like this, but it is a good thought…I’ll have a go. Thanks for that and thanks for your visit!
      Anna

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  5. Sonel says:

    This is sad indeed Anna and thank you for trying your best to keep them from cutting down that beautiful tree! I don’t know what these people are thinking? Don’t they realise what trees means to the world? I just hate ignorant people like that! What a rude man indeed and of course the men who took down the tree didn’t care either way as long as they got their money! Uuugh, this makes me so mad that people can be like this and then they wonder why I love my dog just more and more. 😉
    I do hope the council will sort them out and would love an update. Thanks for sharing hon. 🙂 *big hugs*

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    • Anna says:

      I’ll write an update, hon, but for now it seems the council have given themselves an internal permission to cut down not just one but 3 trees….case closed. Conservation area or not. Nesting time or not. Rooms full of school children a few yards away or not. There seem to be a legal loop hole here.
      Hey, hey, hey; that’s what I say! Do u like the P J Harvey and Bjork duet i posted a few comments up? LOL
      Anna

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  6. katecdaum says:

    Hi – this is just so sad! Have you informed Kew Gardens and and regional or national Catholic body which could reprimand the headmaster? Best wishes

    Kate

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  7. Petra says:

    Very sad indeed. Did you inform a local paper or radio station? I feel the more people know about it, the better. Thanks for standing up for nature. Petra

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    • Anna says:

      Thank you Petra. The headmaster got to the papers first. They won’t touch it.
      And as for standing up for nature; I AM nature. That is the thing; we’re slowly killing ourselves with this desecration of what is essentially part of our own body and essence.

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  8. Lynda says:

    Anna, I missed the first post. The tree in your photograph looks like it was dying. (all the barren branching) Most likely from that ivy choking the life out of it.

    THAT SAID: They should have waited until the end of spring to do this job! The IDIOTS! As well, the gardeners should have been cutting the ivy back so that this would never have had to be done in the first place. In truth, dead and dying trees serve all manner of creatures in the wild. Raptors use them for sunning and spying for their next meal. Woodpeckers and other smaller birds dine on the insects that come to consume the tree. Fallen branches/limbs provide shelter for squirrels and snakes, etc. In fact, the only reason I can see for cutting down the tree would be if the children play in this area. However, judging by your photos, that is not the case. It is simply too over grown for children to be in the area.

    So sad for all concerned that this happened!

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  9. Anna says:

    Hi Lynda; thank you for your comment and nice to see you again! How’s the move coming on? The trees weren’t dead or dying but there were some diseased branches on one of the trees. They are very late to come into leaf. but they were budding up nicely – I think you can just see the green shoots if you look closely.
    But I agree with you that health and safety is extra important when there are kids about.

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  10. WordsFallFromMyEyes says:

    Wow, this is just too sad – and the irony too. Too sad.

    I admire you your efforts and I HATE them calling you silly, ignorant women, sigh and sigh and SIGH, so male. I am so sorry at all of this.

    You did all you could. They killed, and you could not stop them.

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  11. Oh Anna! That is so sad! I hate that! Good on you for trying – but oh! I will carry that thought in me for the rest of the night & probably for several days. Did the police or anyone make them pay or go to Court or something? Bastards!

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    • Anna says:

      Nooo, please don’t have nightmares about this. The Woodland Trust got involved as did Kew Gardens (all be it as advisors). The local MP and local councillors are also involved and the headmaster has now apologised to the residents and he will not cut down any further trees ( or so he says). I think the gardens will be better looked after because of this.

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      • well, that is something, but I still grieve for those trees :-/

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      • Anna says:

        You and me both, Keira. They were beautiful. But I have learnt that it pays to make a fuss, even if you know that you’ll look a fool. It actually works! You can put a stop the desecration of our sacred groves.And I wanted to encourage people to be uncool, to make a fuss when their hearts ached because what was going on across the road…

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      • Yes! & good for you! I was part of a campaign to save teh willows in Hyde Park. It worked, although they have been cut back so they are almost non-existent, the same as the plane trees have had all their lower limbs lopped. No more photos of leaves and water I’m afraid. But when there is the chance, makinga fuss sometimes works… & I think it’s cool!

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      • Anna says:

        YEY! Hopefully they’ll grow back?

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      • It will take years and years and they probably will keep lopping them. I think the first ones were taken out to allow workmen access, but now they’ve lopped the branches of all the plane trees, including those not near the water. It’s ‘nativising’ the park by stealth. YEs, it’s an ornamental park, filled with ‘exootics’ – non-native trees. They only want native things in their parks here. So, no more Autumn colour. Australian trees are not deciduous and there is very little difference between teh seasons. It is very sad. THe graceful boughs no longer exist. The trees are mutilated.

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