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Tree Walks

Tree walks now take place four times a year, in the grounds of Alexandra Park

Dates for future walks can be found under What's On, and full details will appear on the Home page nearer the time.

Notes on previous Tree Walks:

Beginners Tree Walk 2017

Over twenty people assembled for our annual Beginners Tree Walk led by Robyn. We were boosted by quite a few people who were attending as part of London Tree Week.

Meeting at the BBC Tower, we were taken down onto the South Slope to identify some of the more common (mostly) native species of trees.

We are pictured admiring a Common Lime. Other trees featured included Weeping Willow, Sycamore, London Plane, Hornbeam and Beech.

Identification clues were given included leaf shape, bark and how the shoots come off the branches.

Members Spring Tree Walk 2017

People arrived early for our Spring Tree Walk, but were not allowed to relax! There was a table full of leaves to identify. Some easy - Horsechestnut, Holly, Oak... some harder Rowan, Field Maple, Sycamore and some quite fiendish young London Plane tree, Amur Maple, Manna Ash.

April was a good month for a Spring Tree Walk with the Horse chestnuts putting on a great show with their white candelabras. It was pointed out that the flowers start off with a yellow centre before changing via orange to a red colour when fertilised.

We looked at a colourful gall on English Elm in The Grove (might be first British sighting).

The walk meandered around The Grove passing by a Norway Maple cultivar with a beautiful contrast between its red leaves and yellow flowers (pictured).

The walk finished in Western Arboretum with a look at some different Ash Trees, the Dawn Redwoods, Hornbeam, Cappodacian Maple seedlings and terminating with the favourite Cork Oak below the Palm Court.


Winter Tree Walk 2017

With Winter still keeping a heavy grip on the Park, the Friends took a walk to discover how to identify Trees in their bare state and to look for any early signs of Spring.

Just below the Terrace it was a pleasure to see the Cornelian Cherries (actually not Cherries, but Dogwoods) starting to come out in their yellow-flowered finery. (pictured left)

We took a walk down past the Pitch and Putt and through the Butterfly Meadow. On the way we learnt that the buds of a tree can come out either opposite each other on a branch or alternating providing a valuable method for identifying the tree.

While on the walk we spotted a nice couple of patches of snowdrops on the Old Racecourse before seeing traces of the Elm Bark beetle larvae on the dead elm trees.

On a lighter note there were also Hazel catkins to be seen as well as the minute red female flowers.

Another little identification clue given is when a deciduous tree still clings to its dead leaves. Often this happens when the branch or tree is dead. Otherwise it is likely that the tree is either a Beech, Hornbeam or Oak. This tendency is especially prevalent in younger trees.

Looking across the Nature Pond, we could see the first Pussy Willow coming out.

Our walk finished by going up through the Blandford Hall area where a forest of Silver Birch trees is evident after the Hall burnt down in 1971.

We finished at the top of the Rose Garden before adjourning for a cuppa in the Lakeside Cafe.

Autumn Tree Walk 2016

Two dozen enthusiastic participants joined us on our Autumn Tree Walk. With the beautiful colours prevalent this year it was a real treat. Robyn, who lead the walk, pointed out how trees can be identified from the very different way in which they change colour in autumn: uniform yellow of the ash, yellow and green on the hornbeam and red of the turkey oak, while the English oaks were still showing green.

Beginners Tree Walk, June 2016

Part of London Tree Week, Robyn led a walk to look at some of our most common native, deciduous (those that lose their leaves in the Winter) trees.

Good weather and a good crowd for this stroll along the Lower Road.

We started with probably this country's most iconic tree, the Oak, explaining how to recognise the trees and pointing out that some of the trees in the Park were there before there was a Park. They were part of old field boundaries.

We then looked at Hawthorn (pictured) with its May Blossom coming to an end and Cherry with the first green fruits already visible.

Another of our native trees spotted was the Ash with its leaflets and Robyn pointed out how this tree doesn't give such a dense shade as the Oak or the Beech tree allowing other trees, shrubs and wild flowers to grow up underneath it.

Our native Field Maple as well as the long established Sycamore (also a Maple) were contrasted with the Field Maple having rounder lobes and small leaves while the Sycamore had larger leaves with more jagged edges.
Sometimes growing under these trees could be found the Hazel - more a large shrub than a tree as it produces multiple stems from the base.

Two more of our Native Trees that we were introduced to were the Lime and Beech. The Lime having asymmetrical leaves and dangling fruit and the beech with its smooth oval leaves.

We were given this guide (left) to these leaves to take away. 

The walk finished with some remaining to puzzle over a group of Poplars....

Spring Tree Walk, May 2016  

Trees in Groups

Sunshine came as ordered threw a great light on the enthusiastic group of walkers looking at trees especially on the South Slope....

Adrian led about 15 Friends to look at the groups of trees on the South Slope: with copies of a current google earth photo and a 1935 map we were able to identify original groups and later additions. Groups of large oaks, both directly in front of the Palace and to the west, may have been part of the original Mackenzie planting, but other groups seemed to have disappeared or changed: in the south east corner, for example, was a large group of magnificent white willows, which may have been planted just after WW2, while to the north of them stood a solitary towering lime (the tallest tree in the park?) surrounded by more recent white maples and cherries. 

Planes formed other more recent groups, an unusual distinction for a street tree. Interestingly, the unmown ground beneath some of the groups sported many adventitious saplings of other species, such as hawthorn, sycamore, oak, hazel, and maple. We wondered what the area would look like in 10 years time if they were all allowed to grow, and we agreed that some of the groups, especially the oaks, showed off the shape and splendour of the tree like nothing else!

Shown in the background of the picture, a group of Copper Beeches.

We also heard from member, Margret, that a new website has been set up called Tottenham Trees to help celebrate the Tree Charter campaign.

Winter Tree Walk, February 2016

For a change, this walk concentrated on the conifers in the Park. Starting from the Park Information Centre on a cold, dull afternoon, we inspected some of the leaves that we would encounter and discussed how to tell a pine from a fir or a spruce by looking at their needles.

We encountered two different deciduous conifers (those that loose there leaves in the Winter). These were the Dawn Redwood (only discovered in the late 1940s in China) of which there are about half a dozen in the Park and our single example of a Swamp Cypress.

Moving across Alexandra Palace Way, we saw how large a Leylandii can grow and admired the two Giant Redwood (Sequoia) trees together with a small example of a Monkey Puzzle Tree.

At this point even though people were starting to get cold, we tried a few methods to estimate the height of one of the Redwoods. Unfortunately due to circumstances beyond our control we couldn't try a method based on the length of the tree's shadow.

About 8 of the hardiest troopers from 20 who came along carried on to the Boating Lake Cafe to be warmed up with a well-deserved hot drink.
Picture shows a Giant Sequoia and the small Monkey Puzzle.

Autumn Tree Walk, October 2015

Brilliant sunshine on a perfect Autumn day to discover Autumn with its changing colours and tree fruits.

Over 30 people joined on the walk so Adrian had to use his best projecting voice.... 

Starting at the Newland Road entrance, we looked newly planted oaks and then progressed along the side of the old race course. 

An old gnarled elder drew some appreciative comments....

We saw two trees large large sticky buds, Balsam Poplar and Horse Chestnut. Also spotted were several trees with mixed yellow and green foliage including Silver Birch, Field Maple and (identified for the first time) an Alder Buckthorn.

The hedge along the cricket pitch looked to have been planted with native species including alder, hornbeam, hawthorn and, with its dark red leaves, an impressive dogwood.

Picture shows Lombardy Poplars, Field Maple and Narrow leafed Ash among others.

Signs of Spring included Hazel and Alder catkins...

A great little walk with a nice adjournment to the Boating Lake Cafe afterwards for a well earned cuppa.

Tree Walk, March 2015

Highlights of our tree walk this time were looking at large veteran oak trees and seeing how Spring was coming at different speeds to different trees.

Some of the hawthorns already had plenty of leaves and young sycamores were bursting into leaf. Horse chestnut leaf buds were starting to open as were the first Hornbeams. Oaks and Lime (Linden) trees were resolutely stuck in Winter mode.

Small elm trees were identified by their small buds, rough bark and flange-like growths on their twigs. They were thriving in the Nature Conservation area before succumbing to Dutch Elm Disease. Traces of the beetle that carries the fungus were pointed out.

Our route t
ook us around part of this area before crossing Alexandra Palace Way and threading our way through the woodland towards the Blandford Hall area.

Holly leaves were shown to be more spiky close to the ground to protect them from browsers and less so as you look up the tree.

It was noted how the non-native Holly Oak (a type of oak with holly-like leaves) is colonising very successfully. We passed massive Ash, Hornbeams and even a Monkey Puzzle Tree before entering the Blandford Hall area.

This area has been left wild since the Hall burnt down in July 1971 and it was instructive to see the trees that were colonising this space. Silver Birches dominate the view, but other trees are growing up and will eventually supplant them.

Strolling alongside the deer enclosure up towards the Boating Lake, we saw Cedars of Lebanon, Robinia and a Caucasian Wingnut.

It was also pointed out that Lime Tree stalks are light green below and reddish on the top side.

A section of the party adjourned to the Cafe for a well-earned warming drink.

It was really encouraging to see a large turnout (25) for our tree walk even though the day was cloudy and cool.

Tree Walk, February 2014

We met by the Palm Court for this Winter Tree walk and stayed on the terrace to admire several trees including the Giant Redwoods pushing relentlessly upwards....

We then took a gentle walk below the terrace starting by inspecting a couple of evergreen oaks and bright white bark of some exotic birch trees. 

As this was Winter we also looked several tree buds to gain insight into the identification of trees without their leaves. One tree that was quite easy was the ash tree which has characteristically dark buds.

We were glad to see flowering cherries flowering and to see some Cornelian cherries that aren't cherries at all (they are a type of dogwood).

The walk finished with refreshments at the Lakeside Cafe.

Tree Walk, October, 2013

The rain was pouring down as an intrepid dozen of us met up for the Tree Walk under the shelter of the BBC Tower.

After an explanatory welcome, Adrian led us over towards the Rose Garden pointing out the line of lime trees taking on a nice Autumn yellow hue as the skies cleared slightly. At the top of the Rose Garden, there was an impressive dangling silver birch and a honey locust tree with large bean-type pods. We then cut past some manna ash trees towards the Boating Lake.

We were introduced to one of the Park's two Ginkgo trees (from the age of the dinosaurs) before circling clockwise around the Lake. Stopping by a decapitated, but still growing Oak Tree, we measured its girth and calculated that it must have been planted just at the moment of the establishment of the Park 150 years ago.

Further round a cherry tree was showing especially good colour and a pair of rowans had a nice compliment of berries. Several people joined us for a cuppa afterwards in the Lakeside Cafe for a longer discussion, and two households were welcomed into the Friends of Alexandra Park.

Tree Walk, March 2013

The tree walk began just as the sun was trying to come out after a miserable, rainy morning. We were pleased with the turnout of about 15 considering the weather. The walk focused mainly on native trees as we spent the time in the Nature Conservation area.

The walk started with a little exercise (no not stretching!). We tried to estimate the age of an oak tree from its circumference. The formula used came from the nationalparks website.
We later measured an ash tree as well and this showed how much faster growing the ash is compared to the oak.

Spring has only just begun and it seems a little later this year so not too many trees were yet in flower.

Goat (Pussy) willow
flowers were seen, alder and hazel catkins were seen as well as cherry plum flowers and just one poor, lonely blackthorn flower. The first leaves were coming out on quite a few trees, the most advanced being hawthorn.

As the group walked around the sun went in, the rain came on, then stopped, then more sun, then more rain.......
We found out why the Crack Willow is so named  the twigs don’t bend, but snap with an audible crack.
Plenty of small elm trees were seen (before they are attacked by Dutch Elm Disease) with their characteristic flanges on young twigs, and towards the end of the walk a dead elm was seen with the trace of the Elm Bark Beetle which spreads the disease.

A full list of the trees, identified on this walk, can be seen under Trees.

Beginner’s Tree Walk, August 2012

Our first Beginner's Tree Walk was a pleasant amble round The Grove on a sunny Sunday afternoon in August. 

We identified ten trees, mainly by looking at their leaves and bark.  Starting with leaves we looked at their size and colour, whether they were lobed or rounded, smooth edged or serrated, with a short of long leaf stalk, and once shown we could clearly see the differences.  Similarly with bark - we looked at the texture, whether smooth or rough, the colour and other identifying characteristics.  We also touched on the uses and value of particular species such as the hornbeam, which is so common in the woodlands around here and has a very interesting history.  We ended with a quick memory test on leaves, which the children did best at, of course.  It was a very pleasant hour and a half, spent in the open, absorbing a little knowledge about the giants of the plant world in our midst.

Tree Walk, April 2012
We had about 20 people (young and old) for our Tree Walk on 1st April, 2012. The sun brightened the day without it being too warm. Adrian led the walk from the BBC Tower down to the Eastern Arboretum.

It was a great time of year to see the trees as many of the cherry family were covered in pink and white blossom, but it was also interesting to look at the flowers of trees that you don’t normally think of having flowers like the the oak and the ash trees.

We also saw in operation how different trees had taken over the Blandford Hall Area since it burned down in 1971. Pioneering species such as the silver birch at present predominate, but other slower growing trees such as yew are now starting to fight for space.

Tree Walk, April 2011

Led by the Trust for Haringey, a successful Tree walk took place on  Saturday, 2nd April, 2011

Alexandra Park has a fine mixture of traditional British trees and exotics. Many of them are in flower at the beginning of April and the tree walk was an opportunity for sixteen or so enthusiasts to compare catkins and blossom, and to see the less well-known but equally impressive flowers on trees such as maples, ashes and elms.

The walk focused on the lower part of the Park where there are still old hedgerows, but also identified some more unusual species like Caucasian Wing-nut and American hawthorns.

It ended up by going up the southern slope to see the fine specimen trees at the top of the hill, where the cafe was conveniently near for a closing cup of tea.

Dates for future walks can be found under What's On, and full details will appear on the Home page nearer the time.