Estate residents bid to save remains of ‘green oasis’

public housing
Bolney Meadow estate

Residents of the Bolney Meadow housing estate in Stockwell will tomorrow (14 February) attempt to preserve what is left of trees and plants cultivated over many years by a resident to “green” the estate.

People living on the estate, which is run by the Notting Hill Genesis (NHG) housing association, woke yesterday to find people digging up and removing plants and small trees.

They had been planted by resident David Sieferhi, who died from Covid in September.

He had spent more than a decade greening the estate. His plantings and were widely known, appreciated and cared for by residents.

flower with buildings in out of focus background

The removals came after messages appeared on WhatsApp groups and Nextdoor on Friday saying NHG intended to dispose of the plants on Monday.

They encouraged readers to take plants “in David’s memory”.

An NHG contractor told residents on Saturday that they had been informed the plants were a hazard – encouraging rodents, and concealing needles and other drug paraphernalia.

Similar arguments were advanced before the destruction of a community garden in central Brixton recently.

Bolney Meadow residents said that a rental van made half a dozen visits to the estate to take away plants, greenery and soil.

One person used a wheelbarrow to remove an olive tree.

“The removals seemed like a free-for-all, with complete strangers turning up to grab whatever they could,” said one local activist.

“All this caused residents huge alarm and upset, not least as they then had to tidy up after the removal, which left massive disarray, with soil and damaged pots strewn over a large area.”

NHG workers are expected to arrive at 11am tomorrow (Monday, 14 february) to remove any remaining plants.

Residents plan to meet them to argue for the plants to be saved to preserve David’s memory and to maintain the “green oasis” that he helped to create.

flowers in pots and soil

One resident said: “David took his personal time, money and energy in improving the environment by introducing plants to communities that previously had high levels of anti-social behaviour.

“Our small community enjoyed and supported David’s work.

“It was us who signed petitions to have these plants here in the heart of where we live when NHG had no interest or care to improve our estates.

“NHG forced the majority of these residents to remove their flowers and plant from their balconies.

“We clubbed together and helped David to buy plant pots as well as plants. So effectively they belong to us.

“NHG should have the basic decency to consult us on any changes that affect us, the residents.

“How come the residents who actually live here did not get any notification but, via WhatsApp messages to specific groups, people were encouraged to come from all over Lambeth to take from those that live here?

“Even if NHG had good intentions, this was not the way go about it.

“We would have preferred for some of the plants, which are extremely valuable, to go to local schools, the Holy Family Convent and the children’s community garden, rather than affluent individuals’ homes.”

David’s sister Rosemary said: “It is with utter shock and disbelief then that I learnt this weekend  that a call went out from the Notting Hill Genesis authorities for non-residents to help themselves to the plants, trees and flowers so lovingly cultivated by my brother for the children and residents of the estate.

“The utter devastation that resulted was nothing short of vandalism as people from outside of the estate entered it and took trees, pots and plants, even attempting to strip the local nursery of its flowerpots. 

“I am not a resident of the estate but I shared the story of how the residents fought and eventually won the right to self-fund their very own beautiful haven of peace in the heart of the city with those that attended his funeral by means of a video.

“Friends as far afield as France (where I have lived for 30 years) as well as Spain, Africa the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and more were touched by the story.

“I am ashamed that, without any input from the locals, permission has been granted the whole thing to be razed to the ground – the plants my brother raised like his babies, to be incinerated.

“I was assured that the garden would remain in some form and that a memorial would be erected to remember the thousands of hours David dedicated to its upkeep, free of charge. 

“I wish to lend my voice to those of the residents who wish to keep their a tiny oasis of green in in the city.”


  1. My heart is broken with what’s happened on this estate. This was a beautiful place before these people came and stole our best healthy plants to put in their gardens ; greenery , olive trees , fig trees, apple trees , bay leaves trees that they could buy anywhere. But these rich people came and took them from us. This is devastating because all of David’s hard work is just being taken from our community in the most horrendous way. Us residents could have found a solution by volunteering our time to help David’s plants , but now we can’t do that because a lot of them have been trashed and stolen by many people outside of our estate with no permission at all! I caught two ladies trying to take our olive trees and most of what was left and we confronted them. They said that “a resident had told them that they were going to be put in a skip” and none of the residents here had any awareness of this. I asked for the residents name and then they put the plants back immediately out of their zip-van and drove off. This morning, I also have suspicions that housing officers came around to spy and they left without any words with the residents that were there campaigning against this. It’s utterly appalling and unprofessional. NHG are by far the worst housing association in London. They treat us like second class citizens. The tenants need more respect and help. Equal rights for all.

  2. I knew David and hugely admired what he achieved. He was a lovely man. He encouraged me to pick his rhubarb for my kids. (They liked it) However I suspect that following his death the plants – nearly all of which were in pots – became a burden because they require watering and looking after. It needed a coordinated attempt to take over. NHG probably thought it would be too much trouble.

  3. So very sad and sorry to be reading of this tragic story, it makes me want to cry. The love that it takes to create a thing of such beauty , selflessly and generously with time and care ! Then to be wrenched apart by heartless do gooders who have no idea of it’s value! Shocking ! I am speechless! Words fail me except to say that a persons’ legacy is to be honoured, not advertised for removal in the name of officialdom and red tape! Disgusted!

  4. NHG has no respect to the this community we feel like we don’t exist. Talking about climate change and “saving the trees/plants”, who has the audacity to damage the plants it’s a world we’re losing behaving like this!

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