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DeptfordFolk planted 200 trees in Deptford’s Evelyn Ward to celebrate 200 years since the publication of John Evelyn’s diaries in 2018. We also held talks, activities for children, art events and more to celebrate trees in Deptford.


John Evelyn, a 17th century diarist who wrote about trees, air quality, urban design, gardening and horticulture. Evelyn lived in Deptford at Sayes Court Manor, long since demolished, along with his famous garden. Evelyn200 was awarded the Forestry Commission’s ‘Community Tree Planting Award’ in 2019.

"Men seldom plant trees till they begin to be wise, that is, till they grow old, and find by experience the prudence and necessity of it"

John Evelyn

Who was John Evelyn

John Evelyn, FRS (31 October 1620 – 27 February 1706) was an English writer, gardener and founder of the Royal Society. He lived in Deptford at Sayes Court Manor. He is most famous for his diary written around the same time as the diary of Samuel Pepys. John Evelyn also wrote about Trees (Sylva), London Air Pollution (Fumifugium) and Healthy Eating (Acetaria). Incredibly, Deptford is still looking at ways to address these challenges today.


Evelyn is also famous for is garden at Sayes Court which you can read more about here. The present Sayes Court Park was not part of John Evelyn's Garden but, just like Deptford Park, part of the wider Sayes Court Estate. 

John Evelyn's work has inspired almost four centuries (his 400th birthday is in 2020) of thought and engagement with our environment. Take a look around the Evelyn Ward at the street names and local historic commemorations and you will see references to John Evelyn and his life here in Deptford alongside his contemporaries; Naval Administrator Samuel Pepys, and woodcarver Grinling Gibbons.

Tree Planting

Deptford folk planted Evelyn200 tree number 1 on the 800th anniversary of the Charter of the Forest, November 6th 2017. The first tree was planted with children from Deptford Park Primary School and local residents. 

The 200 evelyn trees planted include trees in parks, housing estates, schools and streets. We've planted 2 orchards and replaced missing trees. We planted trees with residents, primary schools, nurseries and businesses. 

Deptford is a densely populated urban area with the highest rate of child poverty in Lewisham - 49%. Giving children the opportunity to plant trees was an important part of the project. All the trees were of substantial size when planted. 

First Tuesday Talks

Tree planting took place in winter to ensure the new trees could settle in and establish in spring. Between May and October DeptfordFolk held a series of talks about trees, air quality and John Evelyn. We are extremely grateful to our speakers who offered their time and enthusiastic support to the Evelyn200 project. All our talks are free.


Paul Wood 

Author The Street Tree and London is a Forest

Gabriel Hemery

Sylva Foundation founder and author of The New Sylva

Jennifer Gabrys 

Professor of Sociology, Univerisity of London

Principal Investigator: Citizen Sense

Gillian Darley

Author - Living with Ingenuity, a biography of John Evelyn

Edwin Malins

London Wildlife Trust - Great North Wood Project

Evelyn200 Events

In addition to tree planting events DeptfordFolk organised a range of free tree related events to complement Evelyn200. 

Local artists worked with us to organise a week long "Nature of Cities" programme which included an exhibition of local work at No Format Gallery, forest school sessions for children, a cycle ride to mulberry trees across South East London, a camera obscura in Deptford Park, cyanotype printing and screen printing.

Evelyn Parents Forum at Deptford Park Playclub helped us organise events for families including a celebration of "Blossom Day", forest school and tree planting. 

All DeptfordFolk Evelyn200 events were free of charge. We are thankful to our sponsors for all their support delivering Evelyn200.

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