U.S. Embassy, London
December 15, 2020


On Monday 14 December, Ambassador Robert Wood Johnson participated in a tree planting ceremony to support the revival of the American Garden in Peckham Rye Park.

The United States Embassy has provided a grant to purchase ten American trees, that will be planted as part of the revival project. Ambassador Johnson and Harriet Harman QC MP jointly planted a “Green Mountain” sugar maple tree.

Ambassador Robert Wood Johnson said:

“The American Garden in Peckham Rye Park is a living symbol of the  Special Relationship. 

The Embassy is very proud to be planting these American species of trees for everyone to enjoy.”  

Harriet Harman QC MP said:

‘’The American Garden is a terrific new addition to Peckham Rye Park and I was delighted to join the tree planting ceremony in celebration.

My huge thanks go to Nancy Coleman-Frank and all the teams that made the creation of the American Garden possible.

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, American Garden in Peckham Rye Park, said:

The ‘new’ American Garden will be a major feature of Peckham Rye Park and a springboard for future outreach and educational projects.  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, Cabinet Member for Leisure, Environment and Roads, said:

“It is a tremendous honour to welcome Ambassador Johnson to Peckham Rye Park and his warm recognition of all the efforts of everyone involved in the restoration of the American Garden.

The garden is a reminder of the power of people with a shared purpose, determination and ultimately of the benefits migration. Specimens of plants can be brought across the world and transplanted to new places, where they not only adapt but thrive to the different conditions. 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. The garden speaks as loudly today as these exotic plants did to 18th Century botanists and to our Edwardian park builders. The garden is a beautiful and poignant reminder of America’s great strengths and our common and shared histories”

Ceremony Participants.

  • United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Robert Wood Johnson
  • The Rt Hon Harriet Harman QC MP:  MP for Peckham and Camberwell, House of Commons
  • Nancy Coleman-Frank:  Chair, American Garden in Peckham Rye Park
  • Councillor Catherine Rose: Southwark Council Cabinet Member for Leisure, Environment, and Roads

About the Trees

Trees paid for by the U.S. Embassy have been chosen from a list of those introduced to Britain by botanist Peter Collinson as part of his seed and plant exchange in the 1700s with American botanist John Bartram.

They include:

  • Acer saccharum  – “Green Mountain”, commonly known as the sugar maple tree. The tree is native to the northcentral and northeastern United States, from Minnesota to Maine and down to Virginia and Tennessee and is source of maple syrup.
  • Magnolia acuminata – “Yellow Bird”, commonly known as a cucumber tree. It is native to eastern Northern America and often seen in the Appalachian Mountains.
  • Cornus florida – The flowering dogwood, is one of the most beautiful eastern North American trees having showy white early spring flowers, which are followed by red fruit and scarlet autumn foliage.
  • Betula nigra – River Birch is originally found along river banks of south eastern United States Its unique shaggy, ruffled bark displays an array of colours and makes for brilliant year round interest.
  • Sassafras albidum – native to eastern America, is a deciduous tree with deeply fissured bark and glossy aromatic leaves which color well in autumn.
  • Oxydendrum arboreum – also called the sourwood or sorrel tree, has grey bark which is deeply furrowed and scaly. In spring it is covered with lacy white flowers. Its autumnal coloring is particularly beautiful and brilliant

About The American Garden in Peckham Rye Park

The American Garden in Peckham Rye Park celebrates the life of British botanist Peter Collinson, who lived in Peckham in the 1700s. His work to import and popularize plants from the United States helped inspire the 19th century “American garden” style.