Notes on previous Tree Walks:
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.
Tree Walk for Beginners: 20th August
Due to illness, this was postponed by 24 hours and a replacement walk leader was found although most the information was supplied by Robyn who was due to lead the walk. We highlighted four trees field maple (pictured left - pictured taken by Alessandra Rossetti), hawthorn, blackthorn and ash.
Ash was used for chassis of old Morgan cars and field maple was a specialist wood especially good for bridges of violins.
Hawthorn with its red haws (the official name its berries) and blackthorn with its dark purple sloes were on show for our walk from Nightingale Lane to the North View Road entrance. We heard about how the blackthorn flowers come out first (before its own leaves) then the hawthorn ("May") comes out later in the year.
In order to help narrow down the identification of some of the trees, we also emphasised the different leaf/branch attachment types of the trees using this crib sheet.
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.
Winter Tree Walk: 25th February
As Adrian pointed out to about 30 of us, the trouble with trees in winter is that most have no leaves. So we have to look for other clues. If the twigs are opposite, this narrows the options down to maple, ash, spindle, horse-chestnut, elder or dogwood (for more details see the autumn tree walk in the November 2022 newsletter]. We saw horse-chestnut, whose twigs are upturned at the end and tipped with a fat brown bud; ash, whose buds are black; and maple, which still had a few of last year’s seeds attached. Other trees we saw included hawthorn, which is thorny and leafs early; hornbeam, which has spreading branches and smooth bark on a fluted trunk; lime, which has red buds; oak, with several buds clustered at the tip; and poplar, which has diamond-shaped marks on the trunk and quite often grows at an angle.
Come to the follow-up walk on 29th April to see the many changes that happen in just two months.
Tom’s tree walk: 20th November
In a double first for the Friends, we had a teenager lead a tree walk for young children on a cool but very sunny morning. First Tom helped the children to make themselves a crown using autumn leaves, then they folded and cut paper to make their own booklets, which they used for leaf and bark rubbings as well as gluing in leaves. Tom named several trees, and his tips for remembering those names included a taste of maple syrup – so a very enjoyable time was had by all.
Autumn tree walk: 30th October
Stephen started off by introducing us to MASHED, a handy way of remembering which trees have opposite leaves: maple (including sycamore), ash, spindle, horse-chestnut, elder and dogwood. We saw several maples: field maple, with its smaller, more rounded leaves; sycamore, with its larger leaves with jagged edges; Norway maple, with the tell-tale points to its large leaves; and Cappadocian maple, with leaves that are a smaller and less pointy version of the Norway maple. Cappadocians are also unusual for maples in that they sucker at the base. Then there was ash: the native, with its tell-tale black buds, a cultivar called golden ash (with yellow twigs), and the non-native claret ash (brown buds). We have no spindle in the Park so we went onto horse-chestnuts, with the common variety back in leaf after the summer, and the Indian, with its pointier leaves, planted because it is less affected by the leaf miner. Representing elder was an unusually large tree at the entrance to the Park by the farmers’ market. And finally dogwood, where the veins on the leaves form arcs that never reach the edge of the leaf. Trees with alternate leaves are much more common, and we also looked at plenty of these along the way.
Urban Tree Festival Tree Walk
Stephen led an evening tree walk to look at some of the more unusual and iconic trees in the park which welcomed quite a new audience (30) to the park, (with a few people from the Friends!). We also looked at a few of the pests and diseases affecting trees in the park including Ash Dieback and seeing some of the early oak processionary moth nests. This picture left was kindly provided by Colette Joyce (@colettemjoyce on twitter) and shows the group looking at the only Oriental Plane Tree in the park. This tree is one of the "parent" trees of the much more common hybrid London Plane.
For more information on the Urban Tree Festival and to catch events next year follow this link.
Spring Tree Walk - April
Further on the group admired some of the well-grown oaks and sycamores lining the racecourse on the edge of the Conservation Area, and noted how well elm saplings are growing, even though they will probably fall victim to Dutch elm disease when they reach a height of 7 metres or so. (photo by Beatrice Murray.)
Members' Conifer Walk - January 2022
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.
Autumn Tree Walk - 2021
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.
A good turnout helped by lovely evening sunshine for walk down from the Rose Garden. We looked a lot of galls and fungi as well as other problems faced by trees in the park.
Fungal tar spot was obvious on the leaves of many sycamore.
Tree Walks - April 2021
With the end of lockdown, our first "fun" activity were two tree walks led by Adrian Thomas.
Early March Members' Walk: New Trees in the Park
Meeting at the Newland Road entrance, a hardy group of about ten of us congregated to inspect the trees that have been planted in the park this Winter season.
Winter Tree Walk
We were very lucky to welcome Greg Packman for our Winter Tree Walk. He surveys and looks after the trees in Alexandra Park. As well as giving us some great tips on Winter tree identification, he talked about some of the tree management issues in the Park.
Greg then contrasted the Hornbeam and Beech trees - both have pointed buds, but the Hornbeam ones turn back into the twig whereas the Beech point out proudly. (left)
Autumn Tree Walk 2019
Not the sunniest of days, but a score of us met up by the BBC Tower to investigate the avenues of the Park and trees that took our fancy. We looked down the South Slope and saw a tall lime rising up then moved to look at some beeches at the entrance to the car parks by the East Court.
Beginners Tree Walk Summer 2019
Perhaps 2pm on a 30 degree plus day was a bit of a disincentive, so only 4 enthusiastic members joined our Beginners Tree Walk.
This Summer Walk made use of the shade as Robyn led us around The Grove inspecting Hornbeams, Beech, Lime, Oak for example and explained some of ways of identifying all these tree species – by leaf shape, leaf feel, bark etc.. A very enjoyable walk and the participants finished it off with cool drinks in the garden – all in all a very pleasant afternoon.
Spring Tree Walk
We met by the BBC Tower as the last the hail passed over leaving a chilly cloudy day with a patch of sunshine over the new Spurs stadium.
We admired a cedar (bunches of needles and no proliferation of cones) and scots pine (pinkish bark higher up) to illustrate a couple of the conifers on the slope.
Oaks were mostly in flower with their long male catkins and light coloured leaves a welcome Spring sight.
We wandered into the secondary woodland below the grassy slope that has grown up since the closure of the racecourse in the early 70s.
There were a lot of different species represented in this woodland including especially Field Maple, but also lots of ash and some silver birch, grey poplar and plane trees. Slightly more surprising was, perhaps, the presence of a flowering cherry. (above)
We walked back up the slope to reward ourselves afterwards with tea in the Boating Lake cafe.
More pictures from the walk here.
Members' Walk: Winter Trees
Starting in the Park Visitor Centre with an eight minute talk on trees, Winter and what we can see in the Park, our group ventured outside to see what we could see....
One of the Winter ID tricks was looking at the bare twigs and seeing if the buds are in opposite pairs up the stem or not. Most are not (they are on alternating sides), however, ash, horse chestnut and maples are "opposite" and this can be could clue to Winter tree ID. The ash has noticeably black buds and the horse chestnut large sticky buds. So a ID of the Horse Chestnut outside the PVC and the ash tree further down was successfully made.
One effect this time of year is the early emergence of leaves on young and very young trees. We saw, opposite the PVC, the lines of recently planted hedge shrubs/trees and some of the hawthorns were coming into leaf well before their more mature cousins elsewhere in the Park.
Walking on to look at some Redwood trees first we spied the three Dawn Redwoods by Alexandra Palace Way which are one of a small group of deciduous conifers (those that lose their leaves in the Winter). The most well-known of this group being the Larch of which we have 0 examples in our Park.
The Giant Redwood (evergreen) further along had kindly dropped some cones on the floor and we were able to spot the characteristic "lips" on those cones. (First picture taken here.)
Autumn Tree Walk
On a sparkling, sunny day more a dozen people met up to look at the trees by the Redston Field. The idea was to look at the trees that form the northern border of the Redston Field and those across from them over the old racecourse.
Beginners Tree Walk
Robyn lead our popular Beginners' Tree Walk starting from the Bedford Road entrance. She picked on just about half a dozen of our common trees to tell us more about them and how to identify them.
First stop was the Sycamore. This tree is a maple - its name sometimes puts people off from identifying it with others of the same genus. Robin showed us the leaves and the seeds (helicopters).
Next stop was a Field Maple. This is our only native maple tree although not the only maple tree you will find in the wild. The leaves are more elegant and the seeds are angled very different from the Sycamore.
We moved onto the Oak, probably the country's iconic tree. We heard about its longevity and use and how to recognise its bark and leaves.
The Horse Chestnut was the next to come under scrutiny, we inspected the large leaves and developing conkers.
To give everyone a change, the next stop was, probably the tree that nearly everyone can put a name to the Holly. We heard how males and female are on different trees. Berries will only be seen on the female trees.
Next stop was the fallen old field boundary oak which came down in 2014. Counting its rings, it was just over 200 years old pre-dating the park.
Hornbeam was our next stop, the most common tree in our local woodlands, but little known outside the tree-friendly world. It has very hard wood.
Lime came next on our list and Robyn pointed out that there was almost a circle of lime trees close to the old Blandford Hall site. These trees have heart-shaped, asymmetric leaves which often have colourful nail galls on them.
Last stop was a look at a final maple, the Silver Maple with a whitish underside and also often with galls on the leaves.
Early Spring Tree Walk
Winter has hung around for a while so things are a bit slow getting going on the tree flowering front. No luck as well for the day with very poor weather of rain and dark skies so just seven hardy souls joined us for the walk.
Our last tree on the walk was a Box Elder in full flower by the Boating Lake - another Acer (like the Silver Maple), but with a completely different looking inflorescence.
.... with the increasing rain four of the party adjourned quickly for warming sustenance at the Boating Lake Cafe.
Winter Tree Walk
Pretty bad weather for the walk and with 2 minutes to the start there were just 4 stalwarts waiting in the rain.
However, Tree Walks are always popular and we were joined by another dozen people in the next 10 minutes.
Adrian outlined the route of the walk and how we can identify the trees in this darkest period of the year. by the shape of the tree, the bark, the twigs and buds. Other "cheats" are to look for are remaining leaves on trees or below them. Also remaining fruit on the trees can be a good clue.
Autumn Tree Walk
With about 20 people pushing into the Park Information Centre, our tree walks are as popular as ever.
This walk was a tree guide to The Grove. Adrian started by pointing out the age of some of the trees close to the centre and talking about the changing colours of leaves. We then moved into the area adjacent to the car park which is populated by mostly native trees. We could see there hornbeams and ash as well as both downy and silver birches. There were also some small english elms surviving.
We took a quick look at the two remaining chain saw sculptures (made out of an old dead cedar) before admiring the pines nearby. Both Corsican and Bhutan pines populate this area. The latter with impressive long, curved and resinous cones.
Beginners Tree Walk 2017
Over twenty people assembled for our annual Beginners Tree Walk led by Robyn. We were boosted by quite a few people who were attending as part of London Tree Week.
Meeting at the BBC Tower, we were taken down onto the South Slope to identify some of the more common (mostly) native species of trees.
We are pictured admiring a Common Lime. Other trees featured included Weeping Willow, Sycamore, London Plane, Hornbeam and Beech.
Identification clues were given included leaf shape, bark and how the shoots come off the branches.
Members Spring Tree Walk 2017
People arrived early for our Spring Tree Walk, but were not allowed to relax! There was a table full of leaves to identify. Some easy - Horsechestnut, Holly, Oak... some harder Rowan, Field Maple, Sycamore and some quite fiendish young London Plane tree, Amur Maple, Manna Ash.
April was a good month for a Spring Tree Walk with the Horse chestnuts putting on a great show with their white candelabras. It was pointed out that the flowers start off with a yellow centre before changing via orange to a red colour when fertilised.
We looked at a colourful gall on English Elm in The Grove (might be first British sighting).
We have two native oaks the Sessile (acorns with no stalks, leaves with stalks) and Pendunculate or English (acorns with stalks, leaves with virtually no stalks) and we contrasted the two.
The walk meandered around The Grove passing by a Norway Maple cultivar with a beautiful contrast between its red leaves and yellow flowers (pictured).
The walk finished in Western Arboretum with a look at some different Ash Trees, the Dawn Redwoods, Hornbeam, Cappodacian Maple seedlings and terminating with the favourite Cork Oak below the Palm Court.
Winter Tree Walk 2017
With Winter still keeping a heavy grip on the Park, the Friends took a walk to discover how to identify Trees in their bare state and to look for any early signs of Spring.
Autumn Tree Walk 2016
Two dozen enthusiastic participants joined us on our Autumn Tree Walk. With the beautiful colours prevalent this year it was a real treat. Robyn, who lead the walk, pointed out how trees can be identified from the very different way in which they change colour in autumn: uniform yellow of the ash, yellow and green on the hornbeam and red of the turkey oak, while the English oaks were still showing green.
Beginners Tree Walk, June 2016
Part of London Tree Week, Robyn led a walk to look at some of our most common native, deciduous (those that lose their leaves in the Winter) trees.
Good weather and a good crowd for this stroll along the Lower Road.
Spring Tree Walk, May 2016 - Trees in Groups
Sunshine came as ordered threw a great light on the enthusiastic group of walkers looking at trees especially on the South Slope....
Adrian led about 15 Friends to look at the groups of trees on the South Slope: with copies of a current google earth photo and a 1935 map we were able to identify original groups and later additions.
Groups of large oaks, both directly in front of the Palace and to the west, may have been part of the original Mackenzie planting, but other groups seemed to have disappeared or changed: in the south east corner, for example, was a large group of magnificent white willows, which may have been planted just after WW2, while to the north of them stood a solitary towering lime (the tallest tree in the park?) surrounded by more recent white maples and cherries.
Planes formed other more recent groups, an unusual distinction for a street tree. Interestingly, the unmown ground beneath some of the groups sported many adventitious saplings of other species, such as hawthorn, sycamore, oak, hazel, and maple. We wondered what the area would look like in 10 years time if they were all allowed to grow, and we agreed that some of the groups, especially the oaks, showed off the shape and splendour of the tree like nothing else!
Shown in the background of the picture, a group of Copper Beeches.
Winter Tree Walk, February 2016
For a change, this walk concentrated on the conifers in the Park. Starting from the Park Information Centre on a cold, dull afternoon, we inspected some of the leaves that we would encounter and discussed how to tell a pine from a fir or a spruce by looking at their needles.
Autumn Tree Walk, October 2015
Brilliant sunshine on a perfect Autumn day to discover Autumn with its changing colours and tree fruits.
Over 30 people joined on the walk so Adrian had to use his best projecting voice....
Starting at the Newland Road entrance, we looked newly planted oaks and then progressed along the side of the old race course.
An old gnarled elder drew some appreciative comments....
We saw two trees large large sticky buds, Balsam Poplar and Horse Chestnut. Also spotted were several trees with mixed yellow and green foliage including Silver Birch, Field Maple and (identified for the first time) an Alder Buckthorn.
The hedge along the cricket pitch looked to have been planted with native species including alder, hornbeam, hawthorn and, with its dark red leaves, an impressive dogwood.
Picture shows Lombardy Poplars, Field Maple and Narrow leafed Ash among others.
Signs of Spring included Hazel and Alder catkins...
A great little walk with a nice adjournment to the Boating Lake Cafe afterwards for a well earned cuppa.
Tree Walk, March 2015
Highlights of our tree walk this time were looking at large veteran oak trees and seeing how Spring was coming at different speeds to different trees.
Our route took us around part of this area before crossing Alexandra Palace Way and threading our way through the woodland towards the Blandford Hall area.
Tree Walk, February 2014
Tree Walk, April 2012
We had about 20 people (young and old) for our Tree Walk on 1st April, 2012. The sun brightened the day without it being too warm. Adrian led the walk from the BBC Tower down to the Eastern Arboretum.
It was a great time of year to see the trees as many of the cherry family were covered in pink and white blossom, but it was also interesting to look at the flowers of trees that you don’t normally think of having flowers like the the oak and the ash trees.
We also saw in operation how different trees had taken over the Blandford Hall Area since it burned down in 1971. Pioneering species such as the silver birch at present predominate, but other slower growing trees such as yew are now starting to fight for space.
Tree Walk, April 2011
Led by the Trust for Haringey, a successful Tree walk took place on Saturday, 2nd April, 2011
The walk focused on the lower part of the Park where there are still old hedgerows, but also identified some more unusual species like Caucasian Wing-nut and American hawthorns.