Monday, 27 April 2009

Tree revamp for Jesus Green

Some more significant changes for Jesus Green are planned - this time it's the trees.

These plans will be discussed at a West /Central Area committee at the Grad Pad on Thursday, April 30 at 7.30pm following a comprehensive review of what should be done.

The main points are:

- planting of a new avenue of 20 cherry trees parallel to the horse chestnut avenue
- the removal of six trees on the avenue running from Jesus Lock to Portugal Street to be replaced by 25 Tai Haku cherry trees
- the removal of 12 'scattered' trees in the 'nature area' area towards Midsummer Common to make way for the cherry trees.
-removal of scattered trees near Jesus College ditch (those not in avenue)
- a strengthening of the east to west beech avenue --- this will eventually become the dominant visual feature on the green once the London plane tree avenue fails and is replanted
- removal of leylandii from near the tennis courts
-infill of four London plane trees on plane avenue

These seem to be influenced by the somewhat controversial plans put forward by landscape architect Robert Myers in the unsuccessful bid for lottery money, which was turned down earlier this month. Basically, the emphasis will be on having trees in straight lines.

The straggling trees near Jesus College ditch will go, as will the 12 trees in the sort of nature area near Midsummer Common, as will the leylandii. This will bring a uniformity of sorts. Previous nature themed areas will go, instead there will be striking lines of trees.

Is this the approach we want for Jesus Green? Some people regard the informality of the green as its primary virtue, but the lines of trees do provide a certain definition to the grassed areas.

There will be concerns over the replacement of the Porugal Street avenue. This is a great collection of trees despite their mixed nature and works well. Should these trees be cut down for aesthetic reasons, especially if they are replaced by smaller trees (as happened on Parkers' Piece, to not particularly great success) ?

Not too controversial are the removal of the leylandii - they are not attractive and shield views of the green from people entering the green from the boardwalk. The other scattered trees near Jesus ditch could go too without too much fuss (many of these trees will be transplanted, not felled, as they are in good shape)

There needs to be a plan, but we need to think about if this is the right one.

Does the Portugal Street avenue need to go if it could survive for another 20-30 years easily? And can't it be informally replanted when dying trees fail?

Please read the entire document (about 15 pages) and let us know what you think

The JGA intend to address the area committee and anyone else who wants to needs to register a few days in advance


  1. Leave the trees alone - they look fine to me and should last for at least another 100 years. Don't let them near those plane with that ghastly scanner of theirs - it's a virtual death sentence as we know from past experience.

  2. The article says the cherry tree avenue is to be removed. While the plans show this to be the long term plan, for now only three trees in the avenue are to be felled; new planting is proposed in-between the existing trees.

    I support the new interspersed planting, when the time is right, and await the argument that the time is right now. I oppose the premature felling of any of the trees on the Portugal Place - Jesus Lock Avenue.

    The cherry tree avenue isn't the only area where I have serious reservations.

    At the full council meeting last Thursday Cllr Reid stated that all major tree works on green spaces will be decided on by the Executive Councillor (Julie Smith) as she had received legal advice that was the way things had to be done. However I note I was present at the September 2008 West/Central Area committee which approved fellings on Parkers' Piece and those trees were gone within weeks.

    There are lots of tree works going to Thursday's meeting I have already commented on my website in depth on the New Square works and plan to comment on Jesus Green and Midsummer Common soon.

  3. Maybe this needs clarification, but I disagree Richard

    Plans are the transplanting of 2 beech trees into axial avenue, felling of 2 bird cherry and one pear + the removal of one dead beech

    That's a total of six trees to be removed.

    And once the 25 haku cherries are planted, is there space for any other trees?

  4. It is one of many items which need clarifying.

    The plan on page 41 of the report shows only three trees in the cherry tree avenue to be felled.

    Section 3.6.3 - the summary of the proposal for this avenue doesn't mention felling all 26 trees now; which surely it ought to if that is the plan.

    I agree if the new cherries are planted the others will need to be felled at some point. What evidently isn't clear enough is the proposed timing.

  5. I’m mystified by the statement that “The avenue from Jesus Lock to Portugal Street was planted with 22 Japanese cherries and bird cherries in 1979.”
    Likewise at 3.6.1: “The last of the original avenue trees either collapsed onto the ground, or was felled, in 2007. Replacement Japanese and bird cherry trees were planted in 1979, but these are failing. At the northern end some of the bird cherries and a single Japanese cherry survive. At the western end the trees have died and have been replaced with a mix of hornbeam, beech, pear and oak, which do not create a feature avenue.” In the last ten years to my recollection there has been only one Japanese cherry, the one that is there now. The avenue was formerly planted with white hawthorns, of which the last were felled in the last 2 years. These aren’t mentioned, why not? The document states that “the bird cherries were inter-planted with Japanese cherry” but I remember them being inter-planted with white hawthorn.
    The statement “At the northern end some of the bird cherries and a single Japanese cherry survive” is extraordinary, unless I don’t know what a bird cherry is. It seems intended to suggest that the avenue is sparse and incoherent. The avenue is actually thick with bird cherries, currently in their glory, and their scent can be appreciated on the far side of Chesterton Road even on a cold evening. The map in the document makes that clear: there not ‘some’ bird cherries ‘at the northern end’ but 22 bird cherries the length of the whole path except the stretch from the tennis courts to Portugal St on the N side, about one sixth of the total. One bird cherry was marked for felling over a year ago and has not been removed. If was sick, why was it not removed; it’s hard to avoid the suspicion that it has been left to infect the rest.
    I don’t understand why the bird cherries, which are native, beautiful, scented, and increasingly uncommon in central Cambridge, have to be removed or, if they do, why they should be replaced with Japanese cherries, a non-native tree which the Council is already planting all over Cambridge with indiscriminate promiscuity. Why not plant a native species and one that was formerly there, viz hawthorn? They grow fast and last.
    3.1“The plane and horse chestnut avenues should be treated as individual units. A strategy will need to be developed for their removal and replacement.” What about a strategy for their preservation? If drainage had been properly maintained, if the paths had been maintained, if heavy vehicles had been prohibited from the area, would the recent loss of a plane “following root severance”(it was bending over without attention for years) have been avoidable? These problems are listed under 3.2.1 without any suggestion that they can or should be remedied. “Unless the
    issues associated with the poor ground conditions are addressed, the trees
    are unlikely to survive for another century.” – what plans does the Council have to address them? The document says that the avenue is able to last another 100 years and then says at 3.3.2“it is likely that the whole avenue, including the younger trees, will be felled. So we have the responsibility of planning for the future for the period of time when the plane trees are felled.”
    3.4.2 If ‘wild cherry’ = prunus avium how does the proposal to plant along Victoria Avenue square with 3.1 (p 30) “It is important to recognise the importance of views into the Green from the surrounding streets and out of the space to the city. In order to achieve this trees should be of a forest scale so the lower canopy can be lifted above pedestrians.”? Photos of naturally growing wild cherry show them to be dense to the ground.
    Ruth Smith