A chilly day to begin with, and raining when we came into the garden, to be greeted by Dean, a senior site officer for Hill, the contractor for the next door site. He has, he tells us, good news and bad. The good news is there is often material available on their site. They use lots of wood for instance. We tell him of our need for water in the summer months, and he suggests the possibility of a hose from the site.

Then the bad news. The yew tree is going to go. This tree has a tree preservation order on it, so we are somewhat puzzled. Dean tells us that the tree will be in the way of incoming lorries to the site, and the planning office has agreed its removal. There will be some replanting but the tree goes. At time of writing, there is disquiet and head scratching over this.

The yew is on the boundary of the site of a former vicarage, demolished around ten years ago. It is on the 1894 map of Forest Gate. Yews are slow growing trees, so it is possible the tree dates from this era. The vicarage was a handsome house in the arts and crafts style and I was surprised, and somewhat aghast, when I saw it being demolished. I am not against modern architecture but we have a duty to conserve the best of the past.

The construction industry is one of our least green industries, and responsible for around 5% of global greenhouse gases. The most common material used is concrete. Concrete is made mostly from cement and sand. Cement is made from limestone. Up to 80% of the weight of the limestone becomes CO2 in the process of making cement. The site next door will use thousands of tons of cement in making foundations, floors, roads and walkways. A massive carbon footprint before a single person moves in.

There are mushrooms at the foot of our large sycamore. They are low growing, just a few inches in height. The largest has a white, flat head about the size of a saucer. I look it up and think it may be Agaricus xanthodermus.

I decide to look for moss. And it is harder to find than I first thought. We have lots of wood in our fencing and raised beds, and there’s none of it there. There’s a wall by the middle door that has some on top, and also growing between the top stones. There is a little growing in what’s left of the turkey tail fungus in the moribund cherry tree under the back shelter.

Moss is a non flowering plant, not to be confused with lichen which is part plant and part algae. They belong to the family of bryophytes which includes hornworts, which we have in our pond. Moss is low growing because it does not have proper roots, but small hairlike appendages called rhizoids which anchor the plant and take in water. Mosses reproduce via spores which are primitive seeds. They were one of the first land plants, appearing around 470 million years ago, during the Ordovician period.