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:

Conservation Work Party in the Anthill Meadow


Tuesday 21st May from 10:00am to 12:30pm

A few years ago large areas of the Ant Hill Meadow (previously called the Butterfly Meadow) had been invaded by brambles.  We have been removing the brambles and improving the margins to encourage insect (peacock butterfly pictured left) and bird life. Progress has been made but there is always more to do! Do join us for this or future sessions, if you are free. No special skills required; enjoy exercise, plenty of fresh air and good conversation. Please bring gloves and a drink/snack for the break we take halfway through. We will provide tools, but bring secateurs if you have them. We work from 10 am to 12.30 pm, but come for as long as you want. Meet at the Ant Hill Meadow, or if you're not sure where that is, please email us at AllyParkN10@gmail.com

Members' Nature Walk


Tuesday 4th June from 8pm to 9pm

Subject to be decided very soon. Details will be emailed out to members.

Friends' stall at Into the Grove Family Fun Day


Saturday 8th June from Noon to 5pm


You are invited to be part of the final activity of a public engagement exercise, led by architectural cooperative Unit38 and designers Studio Hyte, to explore potential ideas for improvements to a specific part of Alexandra Park – the Grove. This free open-access family fun day, co-created by the Young Creatives Network will present some of the findings and recommendations made so far, including improving accessibility and legibility, enhancing the feeling of safety and elevating the biodiversity of the Grove. There will be engaging activities, music and performances.

A unique part of the Park and once the grounds of a large country house, the Grove is located at the western end of Alexandra Park, and is primarily a wooded area with ancient oak trees. It was described in the Park’s official guide in 1875 as: “One of the loveliest spots in any of the home counties. Here McKenzie (the Park designer) seems to have preserved and enhanced the romantic atmosphere of the old woods.”

Come and explore the findings of this project whilst immersed in the surroundings of the Grove.


Conservation Work Party in the Anthill Meadow


Thursday 27th June from 10:00am to 12:30pm

 A few years ago large areas of the Ant Hill Meadow (previously called the Butterfly Meadow) had been invaded by brambles.  We have been removing the brambles and improving the margins to encourage insect (peacock butterfly pictured left) and bird life. Progress has been made but there is always more to do! Do join us for this or future sessions, if you are free. No special skills required; enjoy exercise, plenty of fresh air and good conversation. Please bring gloves and a drink/snack for the break we take halfway through. We will provide tools, but bring secateurs if you have them. We work from 10 am to 12.30 pm, but come for as long as you want. Meet at the Ant Hill Meadow, or if you're not sure where that is, please email us at AllyParkN10@gmail.com

RECENT EVENTS IN THE PARK 

Spring fungi walk: 27th April

Clifford Davy started off by explaining that the part of a fungus that we see is the fruiting body, with the rest of the organism being hidden underground or in a tree, for example. Our first find was a small yellow chicken of the woods on an old log. This is edible when very fresh, but Clifford pointed out that the fruiting bodies of fungi concentrate pollutants, which makes eating them unwise, especially in a city. Other fungi we found ranged from orange pustules (beech woodwart) to red disks ringed with hairs (eyelash fungus) to stripy brown petal-like structures (yellowing curtain crust) - pictured left. We also saw some large brackets – beeswax bracket (about the size of half a dinner plate), artist’s bracket and lacquered bracket, both about the size of half a saucer. By the end of the walk, there were two additions to the park’s list of fungi.

More pictures from the walk here.

List of Fungi seen

Art in the Park: 25th April

The group is growing: we had three new joiners and three recent joiners as well as six old timers. It’s always nice to meet new people and old friends in one session. It was cold but at least dry for us. The spot above Redston Fields is frothing with cow parsley, plentiful fresh green leaves and the last breath of crab apple blossom. The challenge is deciding what to draw! As always, however, we had a lovely spread of sketches at the end as everyone found something to spend time looking at and sketching/painting, but the true joy is in the taking part. To anybody with any interest in drawing outside – we’d love you to join us.

Anthill Meadow conservation work: 25th April

We had a lovely sunny morning, made brighter by the loud backdrop of spring birdsong, especially a very insistent chiffchaff. We were very excited to see that largish areas of yellow rattle had germinated in amongst the grass (pictured), and there were even a couple of plants in flower. This shows that it has established itself, as we did no extra seeding last year. Yellow rattle parasitises grasses, reducing their vigour and allowing flowering plants to thrive. The flowers attract insects and therefore birds. We did see a small white butterfly. Conditions were dryish underfoot, in complete contrast to last month’s mud, making the work much easier. And, as always, working in a group is rewarding in itself.

Spring wildflower walks: 20th April


Caroline kicked off by talking us through flower structure using a diagram of a simplified flower. The idea was to look at the function of the different parts, and how their shapes and colours can vary from one plant to another. We then walked around looking at all the variations – from wood anemones and white deadnettle to bluebells and honesty. A hand lens was very useful for the smaller structures, such as a dusting of bright yellow pollen.


Members' Nature Walk - 6th April

We took a seasonal walk starting at the Park Visitor Centre in the Grove. We started by looking at the horse-chestnut starting to flower before taking a stride out towards the garden centre. 

We passed by the last of the flowering wood anemones before crossing the road and heading for the Paddock Car Park and seeing some native bluebells. We followed it by a wander along a cow parsley lined woodland with some of the first hawthorn flowers coming out.

Passing the white poplars, we climbed up to the middle path where we contrasted the oriental plane flowers and leaves with the London planes.

We finished the walk with a small oak tree covered with many oak apples (two pictured left). These galls are stimulated by small wasps whose larvae grow inside.

Fungi Talk by Clifford Day - 27th March

Clifford Davy started by outlining the vital role of fungi in an ecosystem: as decomposers they free the nutrients in dead plants for use by growing plants and thus all other organisms. (He pointed out that the leaves that fall each autumn would simply build up without decomposers.) Fungi also share nutrients in another way: as mycorrhizal fungi, which establish close links with tree roots underground. Mycorrhizal fungi provide trees with minerals and trees provide fungi with sugars. We were then treated to a photographic tour of mushrooms. We saw them in all colours and a huge variety of forms – spots (coral spot), blobs (King Alfred’s cakes), balls (puffball, one recorded as weighing 25 kg, which fed a family of seven for a week), cups (scarlet elfcup), and feathers (hen of the woods), to name but a few. And they range from delicious (penny bun) to fatal (death cap). A great introduction to Clifford’s fungus walk later in the month.

Planting for OPM Predators - 27th March

A few of us helped Leo, the Assistant Park Manager, sow and rake in a mix of wildflower seeds around oaks in the Grove (pictured), the South Slope and near the Rose Garden [Eastern Arboretum?]. The sun shone as we worked, and the rain watered in the seeds as we left. In the coming weeks the flowers will attract pollinators, including a fly that parasitises OPM caterpillars. Birds will be drawn in by the pollinators and also eat the caterpillars.

Some more pictures here. 

Art in the Park - 21st March

We had a good turnout (nine sketchers and one photographer) as the lure of the cherry blossoms and the spring sun drew people out (excuse the pun!). The petals gently fell around us as we took up spots amongst the blossoming trees and decided what to draw/photograph. Some focused on trying to capture the ethereal candy-floss effect of the cherry trees and others focused on the views both up and down the hill. A thoroughly enjoyable morning, though once again it passed too quickly! We look forward to having slightly extended sessions as the weather warms. The group is very friendly and open to anyone who would like to give outdoor sketching a try – please do join us!

Conservation Work - 19th March

We returned to the Anthill Meadow this month, after a break of four months working in various parts of the Grove. And what a muddy session it was! Following all this winter’s rain, especially February’s record-breaking rainfall, the ground was saturated. I don’t think any of us escaped a mud spattering by the end of the session. We did a hard but satisfying morning’s work, extracting bramble roots from the mud. Some of us reduced field maple saplings to hedge height, to vary the habitat levels at the upper edge of the meadow. We were rewarded with spring birdsong as we worked, a couple of chiffchaffs being particularly insistent. We’re looking forward to the meadow blossoming in the next few months and being abuzz with insects.

Moss and Liverwort Walk - 17th March 

Professor Jeff Duckett led us on another look at mosses and liverworts (bryophytes) in the park. Starting with on and off rain - great for mosses, the weather gradually dried up - better for participants.

We spent the time mostly in The Grove where a large number of different species were found. Although moss and liverworts like damp conditions they can survive in many different places. We found them on a brick wall, on stone, in grass and on the bark of trees. One particular leaning ash tree provided a lot of mosses to investigate.

Jeff told us how bryophytes like the high nitrogen that we have in the atmosphere nowadays and expected the number and quantity of mosses to decline when this is reduced. 

Some more pictures from the walk here.

Winter Tree Walk - 24th February

Adrian introduced the walk by saying that trees in winter have many distinguishing features that make it possible to identify them. He also suggested that participants consider how each tree got there in the first place: was it planted as part of an avenue, as a single specimen, or had it just taken advantage of an unoccupied spot, as many sycamores do? And if it was not part of our native flora, was it a welcome addition, such as ginkgo, or an invasive pest, such as Caucasian wingnut, which is colonising various parts of the park? The park was at its muddiest, so the group kept mostly to hard surfaces round the Boating Lake, which has a more interesting collection of trees than many realise. There will be a follow-up walk in early May to see how much changes during March and April. 

Talk: A clean energy plan for the park and palace - 21st February

As the Head of Environmental Sustainability, it was Mark Evison’s task to assess the baseline sustainability of the park and palace. He found that some employees already had sustainable policies up and running, while in other areas, such as power use, there was much room for improvement. So he focused on eight areas: biodiversity, carbon footprint, energy management, catering, governance, transport, waste management and water use. The next step was to commission Rodrigo Matabuena of AECOM, funded by an £85,000 grant from the GLA’s Local Energy Accelerator, to formulate a clean energy plan and generate a list of projects for which funding could be applied for at short notice (which is usual for funding applications). Rodrigo pointed out that the biggest carbon reduction would come from a series of ground-source heat pumps in the park. If they could be installed by 2028, carbon could be reduced by 85–98% by 2040, thus helping to meet Haringey’s aim to be a carbon-neutral borough by 2041. 

Spring Litter Clean-up - 17th February

With 22 members responding to the call to dig into the brambles and bushes for old litter, we were able to split into three groups and cover much of the park. It’s amazing what people leave in the park, and we lost count of the number of bags we filled, but this team were pleased with their haul. 

Conservation work in The Grove - 15th February

The blackthorn, cherry, dogwood, field maple, guelder rose and hawthorn hedge pictured above was planted about six years ago. This year the saplings were big enough to lay. Robert Cole, of the National Hedgelaying Society, showed us how to saw about two-thirds of the way through the trunks near the base to leave a flexible strip that could be bent over at an angle. That live strip will allow the shrub to continue to grow and thicken up, thus creating a hedge that will protect the spring bulbs in that part of the Spinney. The hedge was finished off with supporting stakes held together with binders woven in the south of England style (different areas of the UK have different styles). The stakes and binders were all sourced from the park with the help of the John O’Conner ground maintenance team.

    It was a team effort: Mark Evison, the Park Manager, sanctioned the work in the first place (and admired the end result) and Rubén found Robert Cole from the National Hedgelaying Society website. Robert Cole, 22 Friends and three members of the John O’Conner team completed the work in a day and a half. Everyone enjoyed learning a new skill and had the satisfaction of seeing the result, which has been much admired by passers-by. Now we are all eager to see how it looks as the leaves appear. 

Winter Bird Walk - 10th February

This was our first winter bird walk led by Gareth. We started by the boating lake and the many participants (22) managed to get great view of the birds in around the lake and we were particularly pleased to see our winter visitors - the redwings - flitting in and out of the ivy on trees near the boating lake (pictured). Among the birds seen there were tufted ducks, pochards, mallards, Canada, Egyptian and greylag geese, feral pigeons, coots, moorhens and black-headed gulls. Gareth also set up his scope and enabled people to see a peregrine perched on the BBC Tower. 

We then wandered off in the direction of the reservoir where gadwall and great crested grebe were seen with robins and dunnocks singing nearby. Just a selection of the birds that we saw on a very successful first outing for this walk.

More pictures from the walk here.

Members' Walk: Winter flowering plants - 4th February

On this month's Members' Walk, a dozen people joined me to try to find five flowering wildflowers, five flowering planted flowers or shrubs and five flowering trees.

We started in the Rose Garden where we ticked off several wildflowers including groundsel, shepherd's purse and annual meadow grass. Shrubs included winter honeysuckle, Viburnum x bodnantense, Mahonia and witch hazel.

Wandering below the Palace, we passed red dead-nettle and annual mercury to tick off our five wild flowers. We saw the first flowers on the purple-leaved plums (pictured left) and just below the palace we could just make out the winter flowering cherries.  Closer to we passed the Cornelian cherries which were starting to display their vibrant yellow flowers.

As we reached the western arboretum, we saw a great display of daises on the right and on the left we found a Raywood Ash in flower. Walking on a hazel was found with its male catkins and discreet red female flowers making up our five flowering trees. We also saw a planted section of crocuses making our five planted shrubs and flowers.

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