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.
The next conservation work session, and the first one of the new year, is in the Cricket Scrub on Tuesday January 18th. The Cricket Scrub is an area of bushes and trees between the main football pitch and the old racetrack.
We work from 10 am to 12.30 pm, but come for as long as you can. Meet at the car park behind the Sports Club, at 10 am. If you need further directions, please email allyparkN10@gmail.com.
Art in the Park Group
Members' Walk: A look at Conifers
Winter and most of the conifers in the park will still have their leaves so a good time to have a look at them. However there are three different species of conifers in our park that lose their leaves over winter. One is the Dawn Redwoods pictured and what are the other two? Find out on our Members' Walk this Saturday.
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
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.
Autumn Tree Walk
Led by Adrian, a large group of us gathered to explore the trees near the conservation pond and the reservoirs. The soil can be quite wet in those areas, and there is even standing water. Predictably, we saw a variety of willows, which famously thrive with their roots in water, but there were also other plants that like a damp soil, such as guelder rose and Lombardy poplars. We saw plenty of horse chestnuts, field maples and oaks too. They can grow elsewhere but flourish in clayey areas where there is a plentiful source of water. Sycamores, ashes, cherries and hawthorns were widespread as well, although they can thrive on other types of soil. This was a good opportunity to consider why the trees in the park grow where they do, and a very enjoyable way to spend a mild autumn afternoon.
Art in the Park Group - October
The weather was perfect despite a very unpromising build up with wind and torrential rain only hours before. The cold was fine actually but does encourage you to move around and find other stuff to look at which is what its all about really too!
Picture on the left one of Patricia Pearl's taken during the session.
Members' Nature Walk - October
We took a stroll along the eastern edge of the park starting by the Gas Hut. The original idea was partly to admire all the spiders' webs, but they had greatly reduced in numbers over the last week and we were pleased to one garden spider.
A couple of different ladybird species were seen including a harlequin (picture left) and a seven spot. It was a bit too dull and cool for many insects so we looked a some of the birds in the park and on the reservoir. Included were cormorants, great crested grebe and a grey heron. Three Egyptian Geese also put in an appearance, but the highlight should have been the kestrel on the fencing, but was later informed that it was just a wood pigeon! Never mind - next spring, we will have a proper bird walk.
Conservation Work Party - October
More grass cutting and removal this session. During our break for drinks and chat, we were watched over by a robin sitting in a hawthorn bush. We continue to make a great difference to the area by reducing the fertility of the soil and allowing more wildflowers to predominate in the area. The weather was kind as well.
Wildflower Walk - October
Very unlucky with the weather for our wildflower walks in October with the rain trying hard to put us off. No chance, Caroline led a morning and afternoon walk in the south eastern corner of the park. It was impressive the list of plants seen flowering as just a casual look in the park gives one the impression there is nothing much. The largest number of plants flowering were bristly ox-tongues near the cricket pavilion. The picture on the left shows some of hardy afternoon group admiring them. Next time there will be sun.
The Palace has been appealing for donations, because of their almost total loss of income caused by the pandemic, and some of those donations have paid for additional John O’Conner litter clearing staff at the weekends. Please see the Alexandra Palace site if you'd like to help with a donation.
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.