WATCH: Charles Dickens’ stomping ground is beautified by 50 new trees

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THE hard work of green-fingered city volunteers will soon bear fruit in the name of a legendary Portsmouth author.

It comes as scores of residents united to plant 50 trees along the Charles Dickens Trail – a walk comprising 15 landmarks which played a significant role in the 19th century writer’s life.

Stephen Morgan MP (second left) and Trish Bell (far right) with members of the Tree Council and volunteers. Picture by Vernon Nash (180071-2)

Stephen Morgan MP (second left) and Trish Bell (far right) with members of the Tree Council and volunteers. Picture by Vernon Nash (180071-2)

The path starts at the the Birthplace Museum in Old Commercial Road, Landport, and includes his former parish at St Mary’s Church in Fratton.

Yesterday, volunteers and Labour MP for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, met at land close to the museum to complete the third and final day of the project.

Among them was Portsmouth and Southsea tree warden and scheme leader Dennis David – the man who kick-started the project after a successful community orchard drive at Cornwallis Crescent, in Landport.

Reflecting on the project, he said: ‘I have lived locally all my life and I saw an opportunity to improve the area by providing a future legacy for young people.

Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens

‘I thought it was a good idea to provide free fruit for local people and encourage wildlife while providing educational opportunities.

‘The orchard connects us with other groups and brings together projects in the city as well as making the area look beautiful.

‘All the community groups have come together to make this project a success and I am very grateful to the council for their support and to all those involved in our first phase of this amazing project.’

The scheme began on Thursday, when Portsmouth lord mayor Ken Ellcome joined volunteers planting in the Lake Road area, near the Charles Dickens Activity Centre.

Collectively, the trees sown along the trail should bear fruit – including apples and cherries – as early as next year.

The relevance of the former harks back to Dickens’ advocacy of ‘an apple a day’ – the start of a popular saying.

As the last tree was planted yesterday afternoon John Stokes, director of programs for the Tree Council – which donated plants to the project – praised the community’s interaction with the scheme. He said: ‘Everybody has engaged with this so well and it has just worked.

‘This is what makes life worthwhile – we can’t wait to see it all flourish.’