Our Colonies trees – handle with care!

Autumn sees the Colonies’ trees at perhaps their most beautiful. Then, once the last golden leaves have fallen, it may be time for some pruning, so they can look their best for next year.

But prune with care, because our trees give us more than we may realise, and they are protected.

It is well known that a property on a tree-lined street is more appealing than its counterpart on a bare and open road. Indeed, British and US surveys suggest that a tree-lined street can improve house prices by as much as 15%.

But trees are not only good for our property values, they do wonders for our well-being. Margaret Lipscombe, director of urban programmes at the Tree Council, says trees bring a number of benefits to people’s lives.

“Not only are trees beautiful but they are practical. They provide a little privacy in the summer and then their leaves drop off, allowing daylight in when it is needed in winter. Trees help biodiversity, as tree-lined streets provide nests and food for birds. They also encourage healthier lifestyles and studies have shown that people are calmer when trees are in their environment.”

Trees have a positive effect on health. A Dutch study found that a 10% increase in local greenery can postpone health complaints by 5 years. And a US study showed that patients who can see nature through their windows recover better after surgery.

We are lucky in the Colonies to have a backdrop of mature trees along the Water of Leith and Glenogle Road. And our streets are enhanced by their own garden trees, which give us all the pleasures of the changing seasons.

Early blossom, the first green leaves, followed by full bloom (with plums and apples for some!), then wonderful autumn colours, before their tracery of branches breaks up the grey monotony of winter streets. This is part of the attraction of the Colonies.

But in recent years we have lost some characterful trees from Glenogle Road and the Water of Leith, and even from Colonies streets. All the more reason then to look after the trees we have.

Our garden trees help create the character of the Stockbridge Colonies Conservation Area – and for that reason they have been given statutory protection by the Council.

This applies to trees with a diameter over 75mm (3 inches) at 1.5m (5 feet) above ground level, and concerns their lopping as much as their removal. The Council must be given 6 weeks’ notice of any intention to uproot, fell or lop trees. Failure to seek consent is an offence and is liable to penalties.

Which is just as well, because without our garden trees our Colonies terraces would seem quite bare and dull!