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:
Art in the Park
Conservation Work Party in the Spinney
We’ll be working with the John O’Conner team in the Spinney (the wooded area opposite the Park Visitor Centre), clearing the brambles and saplings that suffocate the lovely spring bulbs in the area – snowdrops, scillas and various daffodils. No special skills needed. Bring gardening gloves if you have them, although we have spares to lend. Refreshments provided. Meet by the Park Visitor Centre.
Meet by the Park Visitor Centre.
For more details email AllyParkN10@gmail.com
Members' Walk and Christmas Social
Friends stall at the Ally Pally Farmers' Market
The Friends will have a stall at the Ally Pally Farmers' Market in order to engage with the public and sell copies of our 2025 calendar. Come along and pick one up.
Conservation Work Party in The Grove
We’ll be working in The Grove pruning hollies. No special skills needed. Bring gardening gloves if you have them, although we have spares to lend. Refreshments provided.
Meet by the Park Visitor Centre.
Art in the Park
RECENT EVENTS IN THE PARK
Autumn Fungi Walk: 11th November
Impressive sun for our Fungi Walk after rain the day before, couldn't be better. Clifford Davy took us from The Grove to the area below the Rose Garden via the Western Arboretum before finishing on the south slope.
Clifford explained the two main types of fungi. Ascomycetes have the spores in the middle and shoot them through the skin whereas basidiomycetes drop the spores from gills or through pores.
We had many fine finds including yellow brain, velvet shank, young King Alfred's cakes and the notorious honey fungus before hitting the acid grassland. There we found large numbers of slender parasols before seeing a couple of different waxcaps including the honey waxcap.
Autumn Tree Walk: 28th October
Around 20 of us gathered at the top of Nightingale Lane, and Adrian started off by encouraging us to think about how the park’s trees had reached the hedge around the Cricket Pitch (the area we focused on). Which trees had been planted and which had self-seeded? And how about ‘planting’ by squirrels and jays? Some natives – such as dogwood, white willow, crack willow, hornbeam and many others – are likely to have self-seeded. But the Lombardy poplars and a river birch (unfortunately dead) will have been planted. We did see some lovely autumn colours – the deep-red dogwood leaves, the yellowish willow leaves, and the almost-black poplar leaves.
Anthill Meadow Conservation Work: 5th, 19th and 24th October
The late September work party had to be cancelled due to heavy rain, but to make up for it we had three in October. On the first two, nine of us, on our hands and knees, cut grass with garden shears, mimicking grazing animals (after a fashion). It sounds gruelling but the weather was so pleasant that it was a pleasure to be outside enjoying the extended Indian summer. This part of the meadow now looks like a lovely, undulating, manicured lawn. On the third session we were back to the task of uprooting brambles in the central part of the meadow; the overnight rain had made the ground soft and easier to work. The rain had also brought out an array of fungi that we had fun trying to identify, including a couple of penny buns (ceps) that we weren’t brave enough to take home to eat!
Art in the Park: 19th October
A small group of us braved it out into the woods above the Lower Road during a break in the rain, but unfortunately by the time we had settled down, got out our drawing things and begun, the rain came down again! Nevertheless, no one regretted having made the effort – it’s always a tonic to get out into nature whatever else is going on in the world.
Members' Nature Walk: 8th October
A sunny day for our walk, which we started in the Rose Garden. We walked down the hill looking at the trees, listening for the birds and inspecting the fungi at our feet. A weeping silver lime tree near the bunker in the Blandford Hall area was admired, as it was doing its trick of turning its leaves around when the sun gets too hot (pictured – look for the whitish leaves). This is thought to reflect more of the sun and thus lessen overheating. We took a little time to search out some galls, with examples seen of artichoke galls on both oak and yew – though they are caused by different species on each.
Art in the Park: 21st September
Six of us gathered for a peaceful morning drawing (and photographing) in the warm glow of the September sun sweeping across the South Slope. The array of picturesquely positioned clusters of trees and smaller details such as bark, drying grasses and a clump of ragwort glowing gold in the seasonal light caught the attention of our group.
Bird Walk: 17th September
With Gerry’s move to the Lake District, this was the first bird walk without a ringing demonstration for many years; thankfully, there were still plenty of birds to see. Meeting at 8 am in the Grove car park, we were soon enjoying good views of two vocal nuthatches and a great spotted woodpecker. We then headed across the slopes below the palace, where a green woodpecker fed inconspicuously on the grass and there was a mixed flock with at least two chiffchaffs alongside four species of tit and another nuthatch. Moving down to the cricket pitches, Markus alerted us to a common buzzard overhead. Our enjoyment of this infrequent visitor to the park was not shared by the local peregrines, who thrillingly swooped on the larger bird and quickly moved it out of their airspace (photo by Greg Smith). Although it lasted no more than 30 seconds, this was perhaps the most spectacular sighting we have ever had on a Friends’ bird walk.
Wildflower Walks: 16th September
Our rather unglamorous location (the Cricket Pavilion car park) proved very fruitful. Among the highlights was a rose bush that led to a conversation about the way that roses pop up in all sorts of contexts: rosaries (the beads were made of compressed rose petals); ceilings (if you speak under a rose – sub rosa – everything said in that room remains a secret); nutrition (during World War II rosehip syrup was a very good source of vitamin C). We compared the very different seeds of three members of the carrot family (hogweed, cow parsley and wild carrot), and the subtle difference between soft rush (smooth) and hard rush (slightly ridged). In spite of it being the end of summer, there was plenty to see.
Anthill Work Party: 12th September
September is the time of year when we cut the grass in one section of the Anthill Meadow. So, on an unseasonably warm and sunny morning, nine of us spent a couple of hours on our hands and knees cutting grass with garden shears to great effect. Fred, our 10th member, used an Austrian scythe to do the job with great panache. Why, you might ask, do we hand cut the grass? To avoid damaging the ant hills, the residences of the yellow field ants, an unusual feature in any urban park but reasonably common in ours. The anthills are a relic of Alexandra Park’s previous history as grazed farmland. These anthills and the meadow are part of the mosaic of habitats that contributes to the biodiverse nature of Alexandra Park.
Autumn Bat Walk: 11th September
With the weather beautifully warm and still, it was not surprising that a large number of people signed up for the bat watch. However, after his usual introductory talk about bats in general and the bats we hoped to see (common pipistrelle and soprano pipistrelle), Gordon had an anxious wait, with no bats evident well after their usual arrival time (20 minutes after sunset). Finally the bat detectors did start to sound, and happily they were soon clicking furiously as the bats sought their ‘breakfast’ of insects over the Boating Lake – though as it was darker it was not easy to see them. This is the mating season for bats, and they are also building up reserves ready for hibernation.
On the following evening Gordon led another bat watch for the Greenwood Elfins, a local Woodcraft group. Despite drizzle and cloud overhead, the bats came out ‘on time’ and the youngsters’ sharper eyesight helped them to see the bats zipping over our heads – much excitement all round.
London Metropolitan Brass Community Band: 10th September