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Thursday 23 May 2024

Protecting our Trees – Redirecting humans through a more than human world

Our woodland space is an important part of Orleans House Gallery, and works will be taking place shortly to erect a dead hedge to close one of the paths. By closing this path off, we’ll be ensuring the protection of two historic trees for generations to come.   

The two large trees that you can see in the accompanying photos, a Cedar of Lebanon and London Plane, are several hundred years old and are an important part of the woodland here at Orleans House Gallery. They were saved by Nellie Ionides, the last private owner of the house, when gravel merchants sought to extract 100,000 tons of gravel from the site in the 1920s. These make up five historic trees on this site which we are able to enjoy today.  

Artists from our 2021 exhibition, Remember the Future, in front of our London Plane tree. Image by Cristina Schek.

The path is a popular historic thoroughfare across the site. Over time, the soil above the roots of these trees have become compacted, threatening their growth and stability by limiting its food sources and the space for its roots. By closing this path off, we can allow these trees to flourish and be part of our landscape for several centuries more. The dead hedge will also become an ecosystem, with a habitat for creatures and food for insects.   

This is the first of three phases of planned work, closing the path most affected by footfall. In the next six months, we will create an alternative path that will connect the existing routes for you to enjoy. The final phase will close off the path near the London Plane, giving space for these trees to continue to grow and still be enjoyed by locals and visitors alike.   

This work is taking place as a collaboration between Richmond Arts Service and Richmond Parks Service. Our Ecosystem Plan outlines our shared vision and plans to maintain our woodland space. We also explore how we can renew our relationship with nature through the Arts Service’s Cultural Reforesting programme.  

If you have any comments, please do come into the gallery and complete a comments card so we can understand your thoughts on our vibrant, almost wild ecosystem.