THE TRANSATLANTIC MAGAZINE
The US Embassy is funding the planting of American trees in Peckham Rye Park, London, to revitalize the park's American Garden. On December 14, US Ambassador Robert Wood Johnson joined with local MP Harriet Harman to plant the ceremonial first tree of the project, a “Green Mountain” sugar maple tree.
The American Garden in Peckham Rye Park celebrates the life and work of English botanist Peter Collinson, who imported and popularized plants from America during the 18th century, and inspired the concept of the ‘American Garden’.
Collinson established a seed and plant exchange with American botanist John Bartram during the 1700s, and the Embassy has selected specimens from their list to populate the garden, including: Acer saccharum - “Green Mountain”, commonly known as the sugar maple tree; Magnolia acuminata “Yellow Bird”, known as the cucumber tree; Cornus florida; Betula nigra; Sassafras albidum and Oxydendrum arboreum - also known as the sourwood or sorrel tree.
During the ceremony, Ambassador Johnson described the Garden as "a living symbol of the Special Relationship”, adding that “The Embassy is very proud to be planting these American species of trees for everyone to enjoy."
Harriet Harman, the long standing MP for Camberwell and Peckham, said that “Peckham Rye Park is a magnet for local people. They come to enjoy themselves outdoors, to exercise, to be with family & friends and to see the wonderful nature. The whole community will get to enjoy the American Garden and the great thing about planting new trees is that they take a long term view so everyone will get to see them grow over the years to come."
Nancy Coleman-Frank, Chair of the American Garden in Peckham Rye Park, thanked the US Embassy for their support, saying that "We are very honoured to have received a grant from the American Embassy. This grant contributes a vital part to the initial restoration of the Garden by providing those trees which will form the main structure of the planting beds."
Cllr Catherine Rose, Southwark Council Cabinet Member for Leisure, Environment and Roads also attended the ceremony, and said the Garden represents “a beautiful and poignant reminder of America’s great strengths and our common and shared histories", explaining that "Trees and plants that we now consider so fundamental to English gardens and parks, such as rhododendrons, azaleas and magnolias were introduced from America and at one time considered foreign."
For more details on visiting Peckham Rye Park, and the American Garden, go to www.peckhamryepark.org