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.
The Friends of Alexandra Park is a voluntary group that promotes the use of the Park, encourages the conservation of its wildlife and protects the Park from unwanted development.
Become a Friend here - buy our book "A History Of Alexandra Park" in our shop
Our normal activities include:
Organising walks and talks about trees, bats, fungi, moths, insects, birds and the history of Alexandra Park, and conservation work.
Sending a newsletter every month to all our members.
Opening the Park Visitor Centre, where you can find leaflets, chat to volunteers and find activities for children.
Conservation Work Party
Thursday 25th May from 10:00am to 12:30pm
A whistle-stop tour of Alexandra Park and its history – from archery to Ada Webb.
Meet outside Cufos at 7 pm.
Members' Nature Walk
Saturday 17th June from 2pm to 3pm
A look at the insects around in the park ahead in the Blandford Hall and Anthill Meadow areas. Meeting place will be emailed to members. Not yet a member? Only £5/household to join - more information here.
Pictured left is a cardinal beetle.
Conservation Work Party
Thursday 20th June from 10:00am to 12:30pm
Anthill Meadow work party. No special skills needed. Bring secateurs and gardening gloves if you have them, although we have spares to lend. Refreshments provided part way through.
Meet in the Anthill Meadow.
London Metropolitan Brass in The Grove
Sunday 25th June from 2pm to 4pm
Back for more brilliant music through The Grove. Come and sit on the grass, enjoy a picnic and listen to the band.
Art in the Park
Thursday 29th June from 10:00am to 11:30am
Monthly informal meet ups for anyone who would like to spend time enjoying looking closer at nature and making new friends.
Do you fancy getting more creative in the new year? Spending more time relaxing in the park through the seasons? Our monthly Art in the Park group, hosted by local artist Katy Fattuhi, is open to anyone who would like to join. We have people who sketch, paint and photograph. No experience is necessary, but
To quote one of the group: 'What could be nicer than sitting in a gorgeous place, in sunshine, drawing with such lovely companions!'
Sessions are free, but you do need to book a place and ideally bring along some materials and something to sit on (if this is not possible please speak to Katy as basics can be provided).
Each month we meet in a different part of the park and enjoy noticing what is happening in nature at that time of year. Look out for future dates on the monthly Newsletter.
If you would like to find out more about the sessions or book a place for Thursday please email firstname.lastname@example.org
RECENT EVENTS IN THE PARK
150 years of the Palace: 27th May
We had many visitors to our stall in the East Court, including the Mayor of Haringey, Lester Buxton, pictured talking to Jane (photo by Ghislaine Fournigault). Most came to hear about our activities, others came to join, and some just to have a chat. By the end of the day we had sold all our copies of A History of Alexandra Park. Meanwhile, out in the park, Gordon led walks to illustrate how far the park had developed by the time the palace opened in 1873 – for example, the large Banqueting Hall was in use. Alexander McKenzie had laid out the shrubberies, open grassland and sweeping paths in 1864, and that landscape is largely intact, but with some significant changes: the loss of the northern section of the park and of the racecourse, and the gain of thousands of trees. The latter were the topic of Stephen’s walk, while Gerry’s introduced people to the birds and butterflies that flourish in the environment of the park.
Conservation Work Party: 25th May
On a dry but overcast morning, 11 of us joined forces to root out small brambles in the Anthill Meadow and cut back the advancing wall of brambles at the top end. At this time of year it can feel like a lost cause, with lots of young bramble shoots throughout the meadow, but each year the number of brambles is down and the quality of the meadow improves. Even more so this year, with the very pleasing spread of the yellow rattle, which parasitizes grass roots, reducing their vigour. There were areas where many had self-seeded and spread widely through the grass. Lots of other plants were in flower, such as cat’s-ear, red clover and ribwort plantain. There were also signs of ant activity on several of the anthills, and we saw small copper and holly blue butterflies, plus several varieties of bee.
Art in the Park: 18th May
A group of 10 of us finally enjoyed a mild session after the cold of the winter sessions. We sat around the path at the bottom of the Grove. There is great variety here – in one direction you look up towards a more formal part, with its avenue of lime trees (Dr Johnson’s Walk) and the cluster of black pines. In the other direction is the much more natural-looking Spinney, under the canopy of which is frothing cow parsley dotted with purple bluebells. Giving ourselves a bit longer (2 hours) now that the weather is milder meant more time to build up our drawings, resulting in some lovely spring scenes.
Annual General Meeting: 18th May
Before the changes to the committee were announced (see ‘News and views’ above) Emma Dagnes, the CEO of the Alexandra Park and Palace Trust, outlined her vision for the park and palace over the next 10 years. This ranges from safeguarding our green lung for London to protecting our heritage assets, all embedded in sustainability. Then Mark Evison, Head of Park and Environmental Sustainability, talked us through the park’s relationship with carbon: how much is emitted by everyday processes, how much the park stores, and how fast the park captures it. None of these tasks were simple, because there has been little comparable research, so Mark’s park-based project has been truly innovative.
Wildflower Walks: 20th May
Caroline being trapped inside by her broken front-door lock prevented her from leading the morning walk, but luckily for all Stephen was able to take over. Thankfully Caroline was released in time to lead the afternoon walk.
In both groups we noted the amount of cow parsley. Later we compared those flowers to elder, which are similar, even though the two plants aren’t in the same family. We also compared shining crane’s-bill (leaves shiny-ish, petals rounded) to dove’s-foot crane’s-bill (leaves duller, petals notched). We looked at creeping and meadow buttercups (the latter has finely divided leaves), and then the only bulbous buttercup to survive the mowing: the leaves are similar to the meadow buttercup’s but under the flower, you can see that the sepals fold back on themselves. Another highlight was comparing two related plants: the yellow goat’s-beard and the mauve of salsify (pictured).
Spring Bird Walk and Ringing Display: 7th May
Our Spring Bird Walk started at the usual meet up in The Grove Car Park. Gareth led us around the area looking and listening. Blue tits, great tits, wood pigeon and stock dove all around and our youngest participant spotted a great spotted woodpecker on a dead stump prospecting for insects.
A jay put in a good appearance before we left The Grove and walked towards the South Slope. There we saw starlings and goldfinches near the fenced off oaks.
Further walking took us towards the cricket scrub and Gerry's ringing display. He explained the reasons and technique of ringing and how it causes no harm to the birds. He ringed two whitethroats (one pictured left), a sparrow and a great tit.
A shout of surprise from Gareth as he pointed out a cuckoo flying over our heads - a rare delight for the park.
The last of the group looked through a scope at a peregrine on the BBC Tower before before moving to the reservoir where we saw kestrel, herring and lesser black-backed gulls, cormorant, great crested grebe, grey heron, coot, moorhen, grey heron as well Canada and Egyptian geese. The highlight was a distant view of an aerial "battle" between a jackdaw and some magpies - this illustrative picture taken just after the end of the walk. Jackdaws are not very common in the park.
Spring Tree Walk: 29th April
On a beautifully warm and sunny day, about 20 of us gathered to retrace the route of the February walk. What was most obvious was just how much had grown since then – things we had struggled to identify from stems and twigs were fully in leaf. We compared sycamore and field maple leaves: the sycamore’s larger with a toothed edge, the field maple’s smaller and more rounded. By the Grove car park, very pale leaves turned out to belong to whitebeams (‘beam’ was Saxon for ‘tree’). Over in the Western arboretum, we looked at trees ranging from dawn redwood to narrow-leaved ash. At this time of year, trees are fully in reproductive mode. Some (the whitebeam) are just flowering, others (hazel, hop hornbeam and oak) had pollen-producing tassels and tiny female flowers. And a field maple even had tiny seeds visible. Spring has finally arrived.
Art in the Park: 27th April
We chose a verdant spot in the south-west corner of the park (just above Redston Field) with a lovely mix of trees, including a number of apples and cherries in blossom. The undergrowth seemed to be growing before our eyes and it was the sunshine formations of the dandelions that seemed to particularly catch our artists’ attention this time.
It was nice to be joined by a couple of new faces, and a few old faces who had not been able to make it for many months enjoyed making it back into the fold. We’re always open for more people to join! This month we even had our youngest-ever participant, courtesy of the teacher strike.
Anthill Work Party: 25th April
On a lovely, sunny spring morning filled with birdsong (the most insistent being a wren’s), nine of us returned to the business of removing bramble roots to allow resident flowers and grasses to flourish over the summer. We noted that the yellow rattle seedlings (from seeds planted last autumn) are doing well and even better, a self-seeded patch, planted four years ago, is doing really well. It’s heartening because these delightful plants parasitize the rampant grasses, reducing their vigour; this allows more flowering plants to grow, which is better for insects. As if to prove it a bee fly joined us. We also saw a female brimstone butterfly, no doubt checking out the alder buckthorn to lay her eggs on. All in all, a very satisfying morning’s work.
Spring Fungi Walk: 22nd April
We welcomed Clifford Davy of Forest Foragers who led our Spring Fungi Walk. Starting in The Grove, we saw the remains of old chicken-of-the-woods and then Cliff cut through one of King Alfred Cakes to see the interior with its rings and saw where the scientific name came from Daldinia concentrica.
Pausing near the entrance to the garden centre we saw a living red oak and a dead hornbeam with Ganoderma resinaceum - quite a rarely reported fungus.
On the south slope we investigated more dead and dying trees with a Pedical Cup (Peziza micropus) on one of them.
Moving into the woodland below the middle path we looked a dead willow or poplar with several Giant Elm Brackets (Rigidoporus ulmarius) on it. Also present Tripe Fungus (Auricularia mesenterica) and the intriguing Eyelash Fungus (Scutellinia scutellata) pictured left. We finished the walk in the Anthill Meadow with some Sulphur Tuft (Hypholoma fasciculare) popping up.
Spring may not be as productive as autumn for fungi, but Cliff showed us some great finds.
A list of the fungi seen here.
More pictures from the walk here. (with a couple of extra fungi spotted after the official end of the walk)
Spring Bat Walk: 17th April
After a warm day and with a clear sky overhead, the prospects of seeing bats around the Boating Lake looked good. However, after his usual introductory talk, Gordon was worried that no bats were to be seen. Usually the bats are out chasing insects over the lake. So the group started to walk round the lake and then the bat detectors started to click. The bats were all around us, zipping past very close. They had apparently abandoned the lake in favour of hunting for food under the trees – maybe our body heat was attracting the insects. A thrilling evening!
Members' Nature Walk: 15th April
A muddy walk around and into the Nature Conservation Area exploring some of the less used minor paths. We saw streams, the remains of snowdrops and ivy broomrape and some lilies starting to grow. Also looking at dutch elm disease on some trees as well as spotting the first flowers coming out and identifying some trees. Also bird song was in evidence with chiffchaffs and great tits providing a musical backdrop.
Family Art in the Park: 2nd April
Our first Family Art in the Park session with Katy was a great success with lots children (and accompanying adults!) being very creative and enthusiastic. The weather wasn't warm, but the interaction with nature looking at the wild flowers, trees and even some tadpoles was follow by an explosion of creativity. Katy give the children plenty of ideas and help on what to do and the children didn't disappoint.
The session ended with the tadpoles being returned to the pond under the close supervision of the children.
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