Alexandra Park is a delightful mixture of informal woodland, open grassland, formal gardens and attractions such as the boating lake, cafés and the pitch-and-putt course. It covers 196 acres around Alexandra Palace in North London.
Our normal activities include:
Park rewarded with many Awards
The Park and Palace scoops lots of awards recognising the work done by the Alexandra Park and Palace Trust, John O'Conner (Park Maintenance) and the Friends. So a special thanks to our members.
The Green Flag and Green Heritage Awards have been once again awarded to the Park. Winners here.
In the London in Bloom Competition, the park scooped Gold Awards in three categories. Large Conservation Area, Heritage Park of the Year and Large Park of the Year. Winners here.
Big Garden Birdwatch with RSPB NW London Group
This is the weekend of the Big Garden Birdwatch
To help get everyone in the mood, we are very happy to welcome back the NW London RSPB Group. They will be at the Cafe Boat House on Sunday 30 January 2022 with bird identification help and bird-themed products for sale. There will be a Birdwalk scheduled for Noon.
Members' Walk - mystery....
Our monthly will be an opportunity to meet up with other members for an hour, but the subject is still to be decided.
Conservation Work Party in the Ant Hill Meadow
The next conservation work session is in the Ant Hill Meadow (previous called the Butterfly Meadow). It's back to the task of cutting back and uprooting the brambles which have been encroaching on the meadow.
Do join us if you can. We have mini-mattocks which are so good at taking out bramble roots. It's excellent exercise, and plenty of fresh air and good conversation. Please bring gloves and a drink/snack for the break that we take halfway through.
We work from 10 am to 12.30 pm, but come for as long as you can. Meet at the Ant Hill Meadow, or if you're not sure where that is, be at the finger post half way along the Lower Road at 10 am.
Art in the Park Group
This award celebrates the local people who rallied to help Alexandra Palace clear its historic parkland of litter during lockdown. The efforts of the volunteers were critical in helping to keep the parkland safe and clean for everyone to enjoy.
Extract from a statement from the Palace
Alexandra Park has served as a haven for millions of people throughout the pandemic, with visitor numbers nearly double what they would be in a normal year. Unfortunately a negative side effect of this has been a huge spike in litter. Overall for the period May-December 2020, 147 tonnes of rubbish were collected in the park, an increase of 45 per cent on the same time in previous years.
RECENT EVENTS IN THE PARK
Members' Conifer Walk - January
It was a windless morning, which was lucky because there was a large group (26) of us but we could still hear Stephen clearly.
We started off with pines, which have needles in pairs, threes or fives. In the stand of black pines next to the Grove café, we discovered that their needles come in pairs. Next came the Bhutan pine, with feathery-looking needles in fives.
And onto trees whose needles come in ones: spruces and firs. We looked at the needles of a blue spruce, which are attached by a peg, and whose cones point down and eventually fall to the ground.
Later on we looked at a grand fir (the one on the South Slope that often gets decorated with baubles in December), with needles attached like a sucker, whose cones point up and stay on the tree. We looked at redwoods: the dawn redwood, which is deciduous, and the giant redwood, which is not. Both have cones with a pattern that is reminiscent of lips. We also looked at quite a few other conifers, so we all came away feeling pleased that we’d learned so much.
Fruit Tree Pruning in the Springfield Orchard
A small group of the Friends met up with Ruben of John O'Conner (Park Maintainance Contractors) to prune the fruit trees in the Springfield Orchard in The Grove. These are the trees above the large fenced Veteran Oak and below the 3-4-5 Playgroup. The trees had not had any work recently so quite a lot of cutting was involved to encourage fruiting and to keep the trees in good condition.
Some of the things that we learnt....
To cut off any slightly damaged branches first. This is, because as soon as they get weighed down with any fruit they are liable to break off.
Next to stand back and assess which branches need to go. Those good for the chop are the ones that grow from the outside of the tree toward the centre crossing other branches. They stop air circulating and their fruit can be too each other and branches.
Later cuts are made to both remove the tops of high and elongated branches as well as branches growing too close to each other. Also we had to try a give the tree an even look. After each significant cut Ruben demonstrated that we should stand back and look all around the tree before making the next move.
One extra point was not to cut back the stone fruits (e.g. plum) as hard as the others (e.g. apple) - they don't response so well to "rough" treatment.
Thanks a lot to Ruben for his patience and clear advice.
Art in the Park - January
A great turnout of 8 people for this cool time of the year.....
Special Conservation Work Party with TCV - January
Art in the Park Group - December
The Grove Work Party - December
Shading Holly Clearance in The Grove
I’d like to thank you all for turning out on what was a pretty miserable morning, on 7th December, although the rain held off, just!
Stall at the Farmers' Market - December
This day can be summed up by poor weather and great calendar sales thanks to all the many helpers.
Members' Walk and Christmas Meet-up
We had our traditional festive walk in The Grove followed by a drink and mince pies with suitable COVID precautions - well attended and appreciated.
Anthill Meadow Work Party - November
The Butterfly Meadow becomes the Anthill Meadow
The work in the Anthill Meadow changes as the seasons change. Our November schedule consisted of planting yellow rattle seeds, an annual plant that parasitises the roots of some grasses, reducing their vigour and so allowing more flowering plants to thrive. We scraped off the turf in six small areas, loosened the soil, broadcast the seed then tamped it down. We sowed the seed more thickly this time compared to previous years, in the hope that we’ll have an improved germination rate. I did see a robin on one of the patches and couldn’t tell whether it was after a worm or the seed! A beautiful sunny morning brought everyone out (there were 17 of us) and therefore much bramble was cleared as well.
Bruce Carson Fundraiser
We held a very successful fund-raising evening in memory of Bruce Carson in CUFOS. Bruce was one of the Park’s most dedicated and enthusiastic birders, who tragically died suddenly in the summer. His partner, Fiona, kindly donated his collection of bird books to the Friends to raise funds for habitat work in the Cricket Scrub (see November’s newsletter). Some of the books were auctioned on the evening and many others were available to buy. In addition to the auction, Mark Evison gave a presentation on his woodland management plan and, in particular, how the restoration of the Cricket Scrub will play an important role in maintaining a good diversity of habitats in the park. The evening was rounded off with Dominic Mitchell presenting a slideshow of the brilliant array of birds that visit the Park. Around 35 people enjoyed the evening and more than £600 was raised, which will be particularly valuable as Mark’s application to the Grow Back Greener Fund has been turned down. Once more we thank Fiona for her generosity.
Art in the Park Group - November
We had a lovely session this month. The light in the woods was fabulous – we really couldn’t have asked for better weather! I think all seven of us were slightly overwhelmed by the beauty at every level – from the leaf fall on the ground to the yellowing tree canopies – so it took us a while to choose what to focus on in our art work. But we all thoroughly enjoyed that part of the process: the opportunity to engage with the woodland on such a beautiful autumn day, to slow down, enjoy the sights and sounds around us, and the company of others.
Members' History Walk - November
Perhaps attracted by a desire to learn more about the interestingly named Topham Beauclerk, quite a sizeable group joined Gordon to find out more about the history of the Grove. It was formerly the garden of a fine house called the Grove, lived in during the late 18th century by said Topham Beauclerk. He had an observatory and a conservatory built in the garden, but these are both long gone; as are more recent structures such as the Japanese Village, a restaurant with a large terrace and an elegant bandstand. The location of the last of these is now marked by a liquidambar tree, which in years to come will be equally elegant, but won’t house (human) musicians.
Some of the Friends normal events
Conservation Work Parties
We have been working in the Butterfly Meadow on an almost weekly basis for the last few months with limited numbers. This open space is covered in anthills of the yellow meadow ant. A great place to spot different butterflies and other wildlife. Other work parties have taken place in The Grove and by the edge of the Redston field and an annual litter pick.
Mostly taking place in the Winter and early Spring the talks focus on Nature (Butterflies, Bees, Birds etc.) with some on history and other subjects that are relevant to the Park.
We have had great talks on Bats, Trees, the New River and the old railway line that used to run up to the Palace.
Coming up when conditions allow, local resident Stuart Little will presenting elements from his film about the Park and Palace....
This will be great opportunity to see some elements of history from the early days up and until the (second) fire in 1980.
We put on a number of different Nature Walks throughout the year. Normally 2 Bird Walks a year, 2 Bat Walks, 2 Fungi Walks, 3 or 4 Tree Walks plus extra walks on an ad hoc basic such as this year's Moss and Liverwort walk. All these activities are open to all and free.
There are normally about 10 of these a year focusing on Nature (Wild Flowers, Tree Galls plus plus), History (seeing what was where) or just keeping people informed as to what's going on in the Park - these are our only Members' Only events.
The next walk (when pandemic restrictions permit) is planned to be:
Beating the Bounds: A brisk walk round the perimeter of the Park and a chance to look at what’s been happening in the Park in recent times.
Our Calendar for next year has now arrived! Available to order online for free local delivery via this link. Cost £8.50 (as always!)
Or in person.....
We will have a stall at the Farmers' Market in the Park on
Sunday, 5th December from 10am to 3pm
Also available at the Parkrun start on the Lower Path every Saturday from 8:45am to about 10am.
Available at the Park Visitor Centre 11am to 1pm while stocks last on
Sunday, 28th November
Saturday, 4th December
Sunday, 12th December and probably on
Sunday, 19th December.
Cash and card payments accepted.