An 82-year-old woman who spent 16 years working for free to create a popular glade of native trees has been told to quit by the Navy.
Devonport grandmother Polly Pollock has turned an illegal rubbish tip on the fringes of a former housing estate into a popular estuary-side jogging and walking track.
There is no running water to the site, so for more than a decade she has been carrying buckets up and down the 2.8ha site to water seedlings and fill birdbaths.
The Navy, which administers the land for the Crown, said it revoked her licence to use the Lake Rd property after she told them it was time to stop planting.
Mrs Pollock said she had planted about 3000 native trees of 52 different species in the Mary Barrett Glade, many of those paid for or grown from seedlings herself.
She created the small native forest to honour her daughter, who died in 1989.
The Navy said it admired her work and that she had created a "Devonport treasure" on what was once a dump site for rubbish.
But it has revoked her licence to use the land as of October.
A spokeswoman said the Navy decided to take over management of the glade and instigate community planting days after Ms Barrett told them she could not continue for medical reasons.
The Navy said Mrs Pollock agreed, but had said enough planting had been done and only maintenance was required.
"As a consequence of this decision, and with Mrs Pollock's agreement, she was given three months' notice in accordance with the revocation clause in her licence."
Mrs Pollock - who is fit for her age - said she wanted to keep caring for the land herself.
She was worried that her project would be undone by managers who did not understand the glade's history.
She had suffered health problems after an operation on her leg this year but was almost back to full health, she said.
The glade bears evidence of Mrs Pollock's personal approach to conservation.
She has built tracks and kept them clear with improvised weed mats made from old lengths of carpet.
Park benches for visitors consist of old tyres and planks of wood, and there are hand-rails made from garden hose and lengths of old clothesline.
The space has won an environmental award and is popular with school groups and tramping clubs.
Mrs Pollock has clashed with the council over her ruthless pruning of pohutukawa to prevent them getting too big - a policy that resulted in her being issued with a legal notice this year after she also pruned hundreds of pohutukawa on Esmonde Rd.
The widow and grandmother of nine was a lighthouse keeper's daughter and said she had always wanted a piece of land to plant.
Her small flat did not have much of a garden.
"When I [first] saw this dump site I thought 'hallelujah'," she said.
The spokeswoman said the Navy was determined to carry on Mrs Pollock's good work and would keep in touch with her about future management.
"Members of the public will still be able to access the glade but not to undertake any gardening or planting work on the site," it said.
WHO'S IN CHARGE?
1992: North Shore City Council gets permission to plant trees and make a walking track on Navy-administered land between Lake Rd and Wesley St, on the condition work is done at no cost to the Navy.
1993: Council starts work with periodic detention and conservation corp workers but work stalls.
Late 1993: Polly Pollock volunteers to take over.
2004: Mrs Pollock is issued a licence to formalise her right to work on the land.
2006: Council verbally agrees to take over responsibility and Mrs Pollock is given three months' notice. Her licence is extended one month at a time after the council advises there will be a three- or four-month delay.
2007: Council decides not to accept responsibility for the glade and Mrs Pollock's licence is fully reinstated.
2009: Navy gives Mrs Pollock three months' notice to quit.By Eloise Gibson Email Eloise