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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:

Autumn Tree Walk

On a sparkling, sunny day more a dozen people met up to look at the trees by the Redston Field. The idea was to look at the trees that form the northern border of the Redston Field and those across from them over the old racecourse.

One the smaller trees/large shrubs is the Elder which gives us both elder flowers and elder berries earlier in the year.

Even though most have gone, still the most striking of trees in this area are the tall Lombary Poplars.

In terms of fruiting trees, the most obvious along this stretch
are the various hybrid Cockspur Thorns (american relatives of our own hawthorn).

We were pointed several large oaks which may pre-date the park. Any horse chestnuts were harder to spot as they had mostly lost their leaves already.

One of the surprises was the number of small elm trees (first picture) growing vigorously before succumbing to Dutch Elm Disease later in life. 

We were shown the equalising pond at the western end of
Redston Field which allows the water run-off from the car parks to be controlled (second picture).

We crossed over the old racecourse and there we could admire the purple colours of the dogwood in the opposite hedge.

On the same side, we looking into the cherry plum, blackthorn, goat willow and grey willows the made up the boundary. All these trees would have grown up since the closure of the racecourse in 1970.

The last of the last ended with a reviving cup of tea in the Boating Lake Cafe.... Thanks to Adrian assisted by Robyn for leading the walk

Beginners Tree Walk

Robyn lead our popular Beginners' Tree Walk starting from the Bedford Road entrance. She picked on just about half a dozen of our common trees to tell us more about them and how to identify them.

First stop was the Sycamore. This tree is a maple - its name sometimes puts people off from identifying it with others of the same genus. Robin showed us the leaves and the seeds (helicopters).

Next stop was a Field Maple. This is our only native maple tree although not the only maple tree you will find in the wild. The leaves are more elegant and the seeds are angled very different from the Sycamore.

We moved onto the Oak, probably the country's iconic tree. We heard about its longevity and use and how to recognise its bark and leaves.

The Horse Chestnut was the next to come under scrutiny, we inspected the large leaves and developing conkers.

To give everyone a change, the next stop was, probably the tree that nearly everyone can put a name to the Holly. We heard how males and female are on different trees. Berries will only be seen on the female trees.

Next stop was the fallen old field boundary oak which came down in 2014. Counting its rings, it was just over 200 years old pre-dating the park.

Hornbeam was our next stop, the most common tree in our local woodlands, but little known outside the tree-friendly world. It has very hard wood.

Lime came next on our list and Robyn pointed out that there was almost a circle of lime trees close to the old Blandford Hall site. These trees have heart-shaped, asymmetric leaves which often have colourful nail galls on them.

Last stop was a look at a final maple, the Silver Maple with a whitish underside and also often with galls on the leaves.

Early Spring Tree Walk

Winter has hung around for a while so things are a bit slow getting going on the tree flowering front. No luck as well for the day with very poor weather of rain and dark skies so just seven hardy souls joined us for the walk.

What is spectacular at this time of year is the display of flowering cherries just below the terrace giving beautiful pink blossoms. There was also the contrast of the fading yellow flowers of the Cornelian Cherries - not actually cherries, but dogwoods.

We walked down onto the South Slope inspecting the bramble clearance and a Wych Elm just about to come into flower.

Close by was the Totem Pole made from Horse Chestnut wood and now being attacked by different fungi. Next along was our native Bird Cherry full of leaves and flower buds yet to open.

Beeches were inspected above the Rose Garden with leaves still to
appear before we walked down towards the Blandford Hall area passing by different "Aesculus" species. (A. flava (Yellow Buckeye), A. indica (Indian Horse Chestnut), A. hippocastum (Horse Chestnut) and A. x Carnea (Red Horse Chestnut) before winding down looking up at some Silver Maple flowers.

A short detour into the Blandford Hall woodland gave us Goat Willow flowers both yellow males and green females (on different trees).

Retracing our steps passing above the old Eastern Deer Enclosure we could see that the Weeping Ash tree was just about to burst into flower and the Caucasian Wingnut was putting out its first leaves.

Hybrid Black Poplar "Robusta" catkins were a colourful red colour (male flowers only on this tree) by the old Dry Ski Slope.

Mentioning the new tree planting (replacement Planes and trees in the Upper Field sponsored by Go Ape) we continued on to look a Snowy Mespils or Amelanchier Tree whose buds look quite distinctive as they burst.

Our last tree on the walk was a Box Elder in full flower by the Boating Lake - another Acer (like the Silver Maple), but with a completely different looking inflorescence.

.... with the increasing rain four of the party adjourned quickly for warming sustenance at the Boating Lake Cafe.

Winter Tree Walk

Pretty bad weather for the walk and with 2 minutes to the start there were just 4 stalwarts waiting in the rain.

However, Tree Walks are always popular and we were joined by another dozen people in the next 10 minutes.

Adrian outlined the route of the walk and how we can identify the trees in this darkest period of the year. by the shape of the tree, the bark, the twigs and buds. Other "cheats" are to look for are remaining leaves on trees or below them. Also remaining fruit on the trees can be a good clue.

The group set out to walk along the terrace looking at the Cherries before going down onto the South Slope. There we inspected the Cornelian Cherry (actually a Dogwood) whose yellow flowers were just starting to open.

Down further we looked at a Silver Maple. The buds were opposite each other either side of the twigs. This is in common with all Maples as well as Horse Chestnut and Ash. Most other trees have buds that alternate one side then the other. The final clue to the tree's ID were remaining leaves on the ground.

We inspected at the Horse Chestnut identified readily by its large 
red, sticky buds.

A few conifers were passed an Atlas Cedar - needles held in a bunch (a characteristic held only in common with the deciduous Larch). Other conifers examined were the Grand Fir, Giant Sequoia, Leylandii and a Sitka Spruce.

Oaks were examined including the unusually shaped Cypress Oak.

The walk ended by an iconic tree, the Cork Oak which gave an opportunity to feel the bark.

Autumn Tree Walk

With about 20 people pushing into the Park Information Centre, our tree walks are as popular as ever.

This walk was a tree guide to The Grove. Adrian started by pointing out the age of some of the trees close to the centre and talking about the changing colours of leaves. We then moved into the area adjacent to the car park which is populated by mostly native trees. We could see there hornbeams and ash as well as both downy and silver birches. There were also some small english elms surviving.

Extracting ourselves from this little patch we stood by the large holm oak. Most people think of oaks as deciduous, but this one
keeps its leaves all Winter long.

We took a quick look at the two remaining chain saw sculptures (made out of an old dead cedar) before admiring the pines nearby. Both Corsican and Bhutan pines populate this area. The latter with impressive long, curved and resinous cones.

Passing the old veteran oak, we made our way towards the top of The Grove, looking at the Springfield Orchard which includes a couple of medlar trees with their distinctive fruits

The top of the grassy area contains a clump of Caucasian wingnuts which are trying to spread vigorously. Next to these trees is our only swamp cypress - a tall deciduous conifer looking over the 3-4-5 Playgroup. (pictured)

Circling around the Little Dinosaurs, we saw a Judas Tree on the right which had lost nearly all of its leaves and went on to admire a Red Oak with some colouring leaves.

Next en route was a sweet chestnut with its large serrated leaves.

To the left we noted the olive tree (planted by Ciro), hollies and european hop hornbeam trees (with their hop-like fruit) on the right.

Last stop was the Railway Field orchard before it was time for tea and biscuits in the warmth of the Park Information Centre.... 

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.