This Tree

Published 15 September 2013

Plaque saying 'This tree was planted by Dr David Bellamy' but with no tree next to it
‘This tree was planted by Dr David Bellamy’

Nothing ever lasts forever, as Echo and the Bunnymen sang so profoundly. I don’t think they were singing about a tree on Wandle Meadown Nature Reserve, not massively far from my home in London.

The plaque’s still there. It’s a nice plaque, saying the David Bellamy was there; that he planted the tree in 1993 to celebrate the launch of something called Wandle Heritage Ltd. But the tree isn’t.

There’s not even a sign that there ever was a tree there, not even one planted twenty years ago. No tree stump; no pole with a rubber strap hanging off it forlornly. Just a patch of grass, yellowing on my last visit due to the dry weather.

'This tree was planted by Dr David Bellamy' with definitely no tree near it
There’s definitely no tree

I wonder what happened to the tree. Did the tree get moved? Did it get vandalised by the local ruffians? Was it even ever planted in the first place? Is the plaque all part of some elaborate practical joke?

I don’t know. I didn’t live in the area it in 1993 when the tree was planted. I was at high school up north, preparing for my GCSEs. Not at this nature reserve opened on the site of a former sewage works.

Should you want to visit this enigmatic missing tree, you can. It’s in Colliers Wood, on the Wandle Trail. It’s not the best feature in the area, is a plaque celebrating a Houdini-esque tree. For that honour should go to the nearby Bridge to Nowhere instead. But there’s rumours that folly may be finally finished after six years. Perhaps then, the missing tree will once again be the most amazing thing in the area.

The Colliers Wood bridge to nowhere
The Colliers Wood bridge to nowhere

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