Tag Archives: tree planting

Dick Ford 1932-2012

Edna and Dick at a Tree Musketeers stall 
with (foreground) Anne Woollett,
another great friend & activist 
now looking after a Norfolk woodland

Many of the trees now growing and flourishing on Millfields were planted or looked after by Dick Ford, who died last week.

I first met Dick over a decade ago in what was then the Hackney Tree Wardens, local people volunteering to plant and care for trees. He was a man it was very easy to like – large, gentle, good-humoured and warm, with a big face and a throaty chuckle. And if Dick was on an outing, you got not only the pleasure of his company, but Edna’s home-made scones as well. So they were both very popular.

It was Dick and Edna’s popularity, in fact, which led to Hackney’s famous Tree Musketeers replacing the more demure Tree Wardens, following a wardens’ AGM at which Edna, not being a paid-up member, was asked to leave the room. My missus protested and we both left, as did most of the other active members. After that the Tree Musketeers were formed, where we understand that it’s people not rules that make a group tick. So the Musketeers are, in a way, part of Dick’s legacy.
Dick lived in Overbury Street and Millfields was his local park. Thinking over which trees we planted or mulched together, I’m sad to think that the cherries near the substation’s west wall were among the many Millfields trees ripped out by National Grid. It’s not only the greenery you lose when they send the bulldozers in. But the arboretums on north and south are still there and looking better every year, as are other teenage trees dotted round the edges and avenues. So next time you’re enjoying them, don’t forget to think of Dick Ford.

Salvatore salvages saplings

This is one of Millfields’ two gardeners, Salvatore Aquilina, on his litter picking round. He’s standing next to a young field maple on south Millfields which I planted a few years ago with the Tree Musketeers. If you’re very observant you may have noticed that the guard on this tree changed a few weeks ago. That’s because the old guard fell off, leaving the trunk exposed to the whims of passing gnashers.
As this tree is close to my heart, I nipped out with some zip ties, temporarily lashed the guard back together, and texted Salvatore. An hour later I looked out my window to see Salvatore and our chargehand, Andy Day, just completing the installation of a new guard. I don’t think they needed my text — they must have already been on their way when I sent it.
I had a slight twinge about my lost zip ties — they don’t grow on trees (I generally harvest them from railings). But in other respects I was mightily pleased.
Salvatore was back in tree-salvaging action this week when this north Millfields tree fell over (was pushed?). When he took this photo he’d already got a plastic bag over the roots to stop them drying out. Shortly after that he had it back in the ground and most of us will never have noticed its mishap.
But I never got my zip ties back.