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Fallen 50ft ‘tree of heaven’ causes hell

Garden left covered in ‘dangerous’ debris and wood a week after ‘enormous crash’

28 August, 2020 — By Sam Ferguson

The fallen tree which came crashing down in high winds

NEIGHBOURS say they are lucky to be alive after a 50ft tree collapsed over gardens where children usually play.

The ailanthus altissima tree – also known as a tree of heaven – came crashing down in high winds in Drayton Park, Holloway, and is blocking some access to some residents’ gardens.

“It fell over our back garden, which is shared, and the neighbours shared garden too,” said homeowner Deborah Ball.

“We think it was after the recent rains and stormy weather. I was in the kitchen on Thursday morning and I heard this enormous crash. I looked out the window and this huge tree had just toppled.

Deborah Ball and the wood debris still lying in the garden

“We use the garden regularly, and next door has children who play in theirs. Both were just covered in debris and wood. It’s lucky nobody was killed, this could have been a real tragedy.”

Landlords Partners for Improvement sent teams from the council’s tree department to make the area safe, but a week on and the amount of debris has made the garden almost impassable to residents.

Partners yesterday (Thursday) said they had found Japanese knotweed in the garden. The highly aggressive weed has been known to destroy walls and damage property. With bamboo-like stems it can grow up to 10cms a day.

“It’s still so dangerous out here,” said Ms Ball. “Our neighbours can’t get out because of the amount of wood in their garden. They came and cut up the wood, but Partners haven’t told us what is happening next. It’s all just lying here, and it doesn’t look safe at all. There are similar trees still standing. Will more bad weather make them unsafe too?”

A spokesman for Partners told the Tribune: “The council’s tree service dealt with the removal of the fallen tree and made the area safe last week. We [Partners] were told that Japanese knotweed was found in the garden on August 27.

“We are now appointing specialist contractors to safely remove these invasive plants and once finished, the tree service will go back to finish the clear up.”

The Town Hall said anyone concerned about trees falling on council-owned land should contact them immediately.

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