Leading gardener Alan Titchmarsh is urging gardeners to join a campaign to save trees at RHS Garden Wisley in Surrey, under threat because of a road-widening scheme.
Dubbed ‘the ultimate garden grab’, the £214 million project to widen the A3, which runs alongside the Grade II* registered garden, would gobble up 2.5 acres of the garden including a 100ft stretch of woodland. About 500 trees would be cut down, many over 100 years old and one of them planted by the Queen to celebrate her Silver Jubilee. Also under threat are five rare trees and several giant Californian redwoods.
The RHS says the plan would be “visually devastating” and argues that the trees provide a shelter belt against the noise and emissions of the 19,000 cars which use the road each year as well as providing habitats for a wide range of wildlife. The charity wants the government to pursue an alternative plan for widening the road on the other side instead, without affecting the garden.
“We must stand together and protect our gardens,” said former BBC Gardeners’ World presenter Alan, who is an RHS ambassador. “This potential garden grabbing plan would be another unacceptable example of this government’s poor perception of horticulture and lack of appreciation of the vital role that plants play for the environment.”
RHS Director General Sue Biggs said the plan would be ‘criminal’. “The role that these trees play in mitigating against pollution, giving a home to wildlife and providing a visual and noise barrier to preserve the peace and productivity of the garden cannot, and must not be underestimated,” she said.
Highways England says it is considering the two options and will announce its decision shortly. The RHS’s petition against the scheme has now almost reached its target of 75,000 signatures: to sign, visit www.rhs.org.uk