Tree walks now take place four times a year, in the grounds of Alexandra Park. 

Dates for future walks can be found under What's On, and full details will appear on the Home page nearer the time. 

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

The trees at the lower end of the park are sometimes overlooked, so Adrian Thomas led a walk to find out more about them. The whole area is close to the reservoirs and is often damp, so willows and poplars are prominent, but there is a whole group of other trees, such as oaks and field maples, that flourish on the heavy clay soils, along with limes and beeches on the slightly elevated ground a little further away from the reservoirs.

The group also noted the vegetation along the ditch draining the old racecourse. Hawthorn dominated, but there were several other hedgerow plants including dogwood, blackthorn, cherry and one of the few alders in the park. One of the hawthorns already had blossom on it, showing how far the flowering date has moved: the flowers are traditionally called ‘may’.

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.

Spreadsheet of Conifers in the Park

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. 

Nature Walk - looking at tree pests and diseases

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.

Oak processionary nests were observed just below the rose garden on the same oak as were seen knopper and common spangle galls (both caused by wasps).

Mite galls were seen on walnut, sycamore, holm oak and lime (lower picture) trees.

Fungal tar spot was obvious on the leaves of many sycamore.

We took a look at two species of horse chestnut seeing the traces of horse chestnut leaf miner as well as a fungal blotching.

A few large bracket fungi were seen - Southern Bracket and an Oak Bracket (top picture). In the Blandford Hall area traces of Zigzag Sawfly on elm were spotted.

The last section of the walk took us across the road to see symptoms of Ash dieback and Dutch Elm disease as well an oriental chestnut gall.

Tree Walks - April 2021 

With the end of lockdown, our first "fun" activity were two tree walks led by Adrian Thomas.

Meeting at the Rose Garden, the paired layout of the trees below was pointed out with cedars of Lebanon, walnuts and various trees of the horse-chestnut family.

At the bottom of the hill, a sycamore and a line of silver maples were discussed.

Adrian led the group into the Blandford Hall Area where many trees have grown up since the hall burned down in 1971. The group walked through the woodland and out at the bottom. Walking back up the horse-chestnut lined path, they discovered a host of mining bee nests.

The group stopped to look at old oaks planted before the park was created and ended the stroll at the top of this path.

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.

After explaining where (and why) there were oaks planted along the southern boundary, we walked North to look at a group of three trees planted just to the left of the tarmac path. Older oak and beech were mentioned, but these went in (in 2014) after the path was upgraded.

The three trees newly planted were River Birch, Red Maple and Swamp Cypress (left) and are aimed to help screen the rest of the park from new developments.

After a longish walk and some heavy rain, we found ourselves beside the Pitch and Putt where Indian Horse-chestnuts have been planted to replace lost Horse-chestnut in this line of trees. The new species are more resistant to pests and diseases.

After mentioning Small-leaved Limes and small Oaks planted further North, we continued our walk to the South Slope. There we stopped by an Atlantic Cedar and a trio of Scots Pines - planted to replace a lost tree and to match in with trees previously planted.

We missed out Quince and Elm planted by and in the Redston Field (time pressures).

Continuing West into the Western Arboretum, we encountered the newly planted Coastal Redwood - this completes the trio of redwoods in the park. We already have Giant Redwoods and Dawn Redwoods.

The next tree to spot was the Persian Ironwood planted by the crocuses near Alexandra Palace Way replacing an earlier Silver Birch.

Crossing into The Grove, we looked at the Lime Avenue where missing trees have been filled in with Small-leaved Limes before stepping into an old holly stand which now contains a Liquidambar. Picture shows one of the Limes being planted. This site marked the place of a previous bandstand.

Crossing the path, we came to a deciduous conifer, the Golden Larch - looking forward to seeing some nice colour. Nearby is a Japanese Red Cedar.

We finished our walk by popping our heads into the Railway Orchard and indicating two new trees a Mirabelle 'Golden Sphere' and a Damson 'Merryweather'. Time for a cup of tea and biscuits in the Park Visitor Centre.

Trees planted.


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.

We met up by the Park Visitor Centre for a quick briefing before looking at the Horse chestnut tree and its large sticky buds which may be a protection against insects tucking in.

Sycamore and Ash followed and with key points to identifying the trees in Winter - these trees have buds that come out "opposite". This means that there is always buds in pairs either side of the twig.

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) 

Stopping at a Holm Oak, he showed its clustered buds at the top of the twig (like all oaks). Then we looked at a Lime Tree in the Avenue and he explained a lot of the problems in managing such an avenue.

Other trees that we looked at were the large Veteran Oak and a Sweet Chestnut - the latter with its prominent lenticels

Also in The Grove there is a large dead standing tree (Sweet Chestnut?) showing a great example of cubical brown rot with Greg explaining its use in breaking down the wood and recycling nutrients into the soil.

Just outside The Grove, we looked at the fate of a Hornbeam attacked by Ganoderma residaceum (underside here) and a Sycamore killed by Soot Bark disease.

On the up side, we admired the Dawn Redwoods and Wellingtonias before finishing up by our leaning Cork Oak opposite the Palm Court.

More pictures from the walk here. 

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.

The first true avenue was a new one of small leaved limes leading to the Rose Garden. Passing a line of Manna Ashes by the Pavilion Car Park, we saw an odd narrow avenue of purple-leaved plums to the right and London Planes to the left.

Leaving the Boating Lake on the left, Adrian led us down the avenue of old London Planes each side of the road with one playing host to an Elder nestling in a hollow (pictured). At the junction there was quite an old avenue of Common Limes going down to the Alexandra Park Road entrance and a younger one rising up by the old Dry Ski Slope.

The walk passed on to admire the Horse Chestnut Avenue by the Pitch and Putt before the group (after spotting an unusual oak) returned and walked up through a line of (mostly) Horse Chestnuts and passed up through the Rose Garden to end the walk.

More pictures from the Autumn Tree Walk here.

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.

Adrian introduced the walk as a talk on the trees of the South Slope (actually South East) below the Palace. Seventeen of us made our way down the steps to investigate what's there.

We first looked at the reduced holly, cornelian cherries and hornbeam before stopping at a group of horse chestnuts large and small. (left) We saw the leaves and flower buds appearing and were reminded that this tree, like all maples and ashtrees, has opposite buds. This means that a twig appears on both sides of the branch at the same point in contrast to most trees where they appear in an alternating or spiral pattern. At this point the sun came out and kindly stayed with us for the whole walk. 

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.)

We passed by the small Monkey Puzzle Tree before walking down to inspect the poplars (white and aspen) that will soon be putting on an early Spring display.

From the Lower Path, we energetically climbed the hill, admiring flowering hazel and spotting the difference between Oriental and London Plane trees - the former has commonly 3 fruit balls dangling whereas the latter has usually just one or two.

Up top the Cornelian Cherry was just starting to open its yellow flowers and we finished by the Purple Plums below the BBC tower which are breaking into flower. (second picture)

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.

One the smaller trees/large shrubs is the Elder which gives us both elder flowers and elder berries earlier in the year.

Even though most have gone, still the most striking of trees in this area are the tall Lombary Poplars.

In terms of fruiting trees, the most obvious along this stretch are the various hybrid Cockspur Thorns (american relatives of our own hawthorn).

We were pointed several large oaks which may pre-date the park. Any horse chestnuts were harder to spot as they had mostly lost their leaves already.

One of the surprises was the number of small elm trees (first picture) growing vigorously before succumbing to Dutch Elm Disease later in life. 

We were shown the equalising pond at the western end of Redston Field which allows the water run-off from the car parks to be controlled (second picture).

We crossed over the old racecourse and there we could admire the purple colours of the dogwood in the opposite hedge.

On the same side, we looking into the cherry plum, blackthorn, goat willow and grey willows the made up the boundary. All these trees would have grown up since the closure of the racecourse in 1970.

The last of the last ended with a reviving cup of tea in the Boating Lake Cafe.... Thanks to Adrian assisted by Robyn for leading the walk

Link to all the pictures from the walk.

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.

More pictures from the walk here.

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.

What is spectacular at this time of year is the display of flowering cherries just below the terrace giving beautiful pink blossoms. There was also the contrast of the fading yellow flowers of the Cornelian Cherries - not actually cherries, but dogwoods.

We walked down onto the South Slope inspecting the bramble clearance and a Wych Elm just about to come into flower.

Close by was the Totem Pole made from Horse Chestnut wood and now being attacked by different fungi. Next along was our native Bird Cherry full of leaves and flower buds yet to open.

Beeches were inspected above the Rose Garden with leaves still to ppear before we walked down towards the Blandford Hall area passing by different "Aesculus" species. (A. flava (Yellow Buckeye), A. indica (Indian Horse Chestnut), A. hippocastum (Horse Chestnut) and A. x Carnea (Red Horse Chestnut) before winding down looking up at some Silver Maple flowers.

A short detour into the Blandford Hall woodland gave us Goat Willow flowers both yellow males and green females (on different trees).

Retracing our steps passing above the old Eastern Deer Enclosure we could see that the Weeping Ash tree was just about to burst into flower and the Caucasian Wingnut was putting out its first leaves.

Hybrid Black Poplar "Robusta" catkins were a colourful red colour (male flowers only on this tree) by the old Dry Ski Slope.

Mentioning the new tree planting (replacement Planes and trees in the Upper Field sponsored by Go Ape) we continued on to look a Snowy Mespils or Amelanchier Tree whose buds look quite distinctive as they burst.

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.

The group set out to walk along the terrace looking at the Cherries before going down onto the South Slope. There we inspected the Cornelian Cherry (actually a Dogwood) whose yellow flowers were just starting to open.

Down further we looked at a Silver Maple. The buds were opposite each other either side of the twigs. This is in common with all Maples as well as Horse Chestnut and Ash. Most other trees have buds that alternate one side then the other. The final clue to the tree's ID were remaining leaves on the ground.

We inspected at the Horse Chestnut identified readily by its

The group set out to walk along the terrace looking at the Cherries before going down onto the South Slope. There we inspected the Cornelian Cherry (actually a Dogwood) whose yellow flowers were just starting to open.

Down further we looked at a Silver Maple. The buds were opposite each other either side of the twigs. This is in common with all Maples as well as Horse Chestnut and Ash. Most other trees have buds that alternate one side then the other. The final clue to the tree's ID were remaining leaves on the ground.

We inspected at the Horse Chestnut identified readily by its large red, sticky buds. 

A few conifers were passed an Atlas Cedar - needles held in a bunch (a characteristic held only in common with the deciduous Larch). Other conifers examined were the Grand Fir, Giant Sequoia, Leylandii and a Sitka Spruce.

Oaks were examined including the unusually shaped Cypress Oak.

The walk ended by an iconic tree, the Cork Oak which gave an opportunity to feel the bark.

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.

Extracting ourselves from this little patch we stood by the large holm oak. Most people think of oaks as deciduous, but this one  keeps its leaves all Winter long.

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.

Passing the old veteran oak, we made our way towards the top of The Grove, looking at the Springfield Orchard which includes a couple of medlar trees with their distinctive fruits.

The top of the grassy area contains a clump of Caucasian wingnuts which are trying to spread vigorously. Next to these trees is our only swamp cypress - a tall deciduous conifer looking over the 3-4-5 Playgroup. (pictured)

Circling around the Little Dinosaurs, we saw a Judas Tree on the right which had lost nearly all of its leaves and went on to admire a Red Oak with some colouring leaves.

Next en route was a sweet chestnut with its large serrated leaves.

To the left we noted the olive tree (planted by Ciro), hollies and european hop hornbeam trees (with their hop-like fruit) on the right.

Last stop was the Railway Field orchard before it was time for tea and biscuits in the warmth of the Park Information Centre.... 

A few extra pics here.

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.

Just below the Terrace it was a pleasure to see the Cornelian Cherries (actually not Cherries, but Dogwoods) starting to come out in their yellow-flowered finery. (pictured left)

We took a walk down past the Pitch and Putt and through the Butterfly Meadow. On the way we learnt that the buds of a tree can come out either opposite each other on a branch or alternating providing a valuable method for identifying the tree.

While on the walk we spotted a nice couple of patches of snowdrops on the Old Racecourse before seeing traces of the Elm Bark beetle larvae on the dead elm trees.

On a lighter note there were also Hazel catkins to be seen as well as the minute red female flowers.

Another little identification clue given is when a deciduous tree still clings to its dead leaves. Often this happens when the branch or tree is dead. Otherwise it is likely that the tree is either a Beech, Hornbeam or Oak. This tendency is especially prevalent in younger trees.

Looking across the Nature Pond, we could see the first Pussy Willow coming out.

Our walk finished by going up through the Blandford Hall area where a forest of Silver Birch trees is evident after the Hall burnt down in 1971.

We finished at the top of the Rose Garden before adjourning for a cuppa in the Lakeside Cafe.

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.

We started with probably this country's most iconic tree, the Oak, explaining how to recognise the trees and pointing out that some of the trees in the Park were there before there was a Park. They were part of old field boundaries.

We then looked at Hawthorn (pictured) with its May Blossom coming to an end and Cherry with the first green fruits already visible.

Another of our native trees spotted was the Ash with its leaflets and Robyn pointed out how this tree doesn't give such a dense shade as the Oak or the Beech tree allowing other trees, shrubs and wild flowers to grow up underneath it.

Our native Field Maple as well as the long established Sycamore (also a Maple) were contrasted with the Field Maple having rounder lobes and small leaves while the Sycamore had larger leaves with more jagged edges.

Sometimes growing under these trees could be found the Hazel - more a large shrub than a tree as it produces multiple stems from the base.

Two more of our Native Trees that we were introduced to were the Lime and Beech. The Lime having asymmetrical leaves and dangling fruit and the beech with its smooth oval leaves.

We were given this guide (left) to these leaves to take away. 

The walk finished with some remaining to puzzle over a group of Poplars....

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.

We also heard from member, Margret, that a new website has been set up called Tottenham Trees to help celebrate the Tree Charter campaign.

This links to their launch flyer.

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.

We encountered two different deciduous conifers (those that loose there leaves in the Winter). These were the Dawn Redwood (only discovered in the late 1940s in China) of which there are about half a dozen in the Park and our single example of a Swamp Cypress.

Moving across Alexandra Palace Way, we saw how large a Leylandii can grow and admired the two Giant Redwood (Sequoia) trees together with a small example of a Monkey Puzzle Tree.

At this point even though people were starting to get cold, we tried a few methods to estimate the height of one of the Redwoods. Unfortunately due to circumstances beyond our control we couldn't try a method based on the length of the tree's shadow.

About 8 of the hardiest troopers from 20 who came along carried on to the Boating Lake Cafe to be warmed up with a well-deserved hot drink.

Picture shows a Giant Sequoia and the small Monkey Puzzle.

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.

Some of the hawthorns already had plenty of leaves and young sycamores were bursting into leaf. Horse chestnut leaf buds were starting to open as were the first Hornbeams. Oaks and Lime (Linden) trees were resolutely stuck in Winter mode.

Small elm trees were identified by their small buds, rough bark and flange-like growths on their twigs. They were thriving in the Nature Conservation area before succumbing to Dutch Elm Disease. Traces of the beetle that carries the fungus were pointed out.

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.

Holly leaves were shown to be more spiky close to the ground to protect them from browsers and less so as you look up the tree.

It was noted how the non-native Holly Oak (a type of oak with holly-like leaves) is colonising very successfully. We passed massive Ash, Hornbeams and even a Monkey Puzzle Tree before entering the Blandford Hall area.

This area has been left wild since the Hall burnt down in July 1971 and it was instructive to see the trees that were colonising this space. Silver Birches dominate the view, but other trees are growing up and will eventually supplant them.

Strolling alongside the deer enclosure up towards the Boating Lake, we saw Cedars of Lebanon, Robinia and a Caucasian Wingnut.

It was also pointed out that Lime Tree stalks are light green below and reddish on the top side.

A section of the party adjourned to the Cafe for a well-earned warming drink.

It was really encouraging to see a large turnout (25) for our tree walk even though the day was cloudy and cool.

Tree Walk, February 2014

We met by the Palm Court for this Winter Tree walk and stayed on the terrace to admire several trees including the Giant Redwoods pushing relentlessly upwards....

We then took a gentle walk below the terrace starting by inspecting a couple of evergreen oaks and bright white bark of some exotic birch trees. 

As this was Winter we also looked several tree buds to gain insight into the identification of trees without their leaves. One tree that was quite easy was the ash tree which has characteristically dark buds.

We were glad to see flowering cherries flowering and to see some Cornelian cherries that aren't cherries at all (they are a type of dogwood).

The walk finished with refreshments at the Lakeside Cafe.

Tree Walk, October, 2013

The rain was pouring down as an intrepid dozen of us met up for the Tree Walk under the shelter of the BBC Tower.

After an explanatory welcome, Adrian led us over towards the Rose Garden pointing out the line of lime trees taking on a nice Autumn yellow hue as the skies cleared slightly. At the top of the Rose Garden, there was an impressive dangling silver birch and a honey locust tree with large bean-type pods. We then cut past some manna ash trees towards the Boating Lake.

We were introduced to one of the Park's two Ginkgo trees (from the age of the dinosaurs) before circling clockwise around the Lake. Stopping by a decapitated, but still growing Oak Tree, we measured its girth and calculated that it must have been planted just at the moment of the establishment of the Park 150 years ago.

Further round a cherry tree was showing especially good colour and a pair of rowans had a nice compliment of berries. Several people joined us for a cuppa afterwards in the Lakeside Cafe for a longer discussion, and two households were welcomed into the Friends of Alexandra Park.

Tree Walk, March 2013

The tree walk began just as the sun was trying to come out after a miserable, rainy morning. We were pleased with the turnout of about 15 considering the weather. The walk focused mainly on native trees as we spent the time in the Nature Conservation area.

The walk started with a little exercise (no not stretching!). We tried to estimate the age of an oak tree from its circumference. The formula used came from the nationalparks website.


We later measured an ash tree as well and this showed how much faster growing the ash is compared to the oak.


Spring has only just begun and it seems a little later this year so not too many trees were yet in flower.

Goat (Pussy) willow flowers were seen, alder and hazel catkins were seen as well as cherry plum flowers and just one poor, lonely blackthorn flower. The first leaves were coming out on quite a few trees, the most advanced being hawthorn.


As the group walked around the sun went in, the rain came on, then stopped, then more sun, then more rain.......


We found out why the Crack Willow is so named  -  the twigs don’t bend, but snap with an audible crack.


Plenty of small elm trees were seen (before they are attacked by Dutch Elm Disease) with their characteristic flanges on young twigs, and towards the end of the walk a dead elm was seen with the trace of the Elm Bark Beetle which spreads the disease.

A full list of the trees, identified on this walk, can be seen under Trees.

Beginner’s Tree Walk, August 2012

Our first Beginner's Tree Walk was a pleasant amble round The Grove on a sunny Sunday afternoon in August. 

We identified ten trees, mainly by looking at their leaves and bark.  Starting with leaves we looked at their size and colour, whether they were lobed or rounded, smooth edged or serrated, with a short of long leaf stalk, and once shown we could clearly see the differences.  Similarly with bark - we looked at the texture, whether smooth or rough, the colour and other identifying characteristics.  We also touched on the uses and value of particular species such as the hornbeam, which is so common in the woodlands around here and has a very interesting history.  We ended with a quick memory test on leaves, which the children did best at, of course.  It was a very pleasant hour and a half, spent in the open, absorbing a little knowledge about the giants of the plant world in our midst.

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

Alexandra Park has a fine mixture of traditional British trees and exotics. Many of them are in flower at the beginning of April and the tree walk was an opportunity for sixteen or so enthusiasts to compare catkins and blossom, and to see the less well-known but equally impressive flowers on trees such as maples, ashes and elms.

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.

It ended up by going up the southern slope to see the fine specimen trees at the top of the hill, where the cafe was conveniently near for a closing cup of tea.

Dates for future walks can be found under What's On, and full details will appear on the Home page nearer the time.