Sunday, 29 May 2016

London Tree Week--Ladywell Fields Tree Walk: Part 4

To mark London Tree Week 2016 (28 May - 5 June 2016), we continue our tree walk from part 3, introducing the twenty most interesting trees in Ladywell Fields. 

As you pass underneath the railway bridge from the middle field into the southern field, on the far bank is a gap where a Crimean Lime (11) stood until Easter 2016 when it blew down in a storm. They are often said to the be ugliest tree in the park, especially in winter when its drooping, tangled branches are easily visible. This one has now mostly been chipped and the wood chips used to mulch the trees in the community orchard.

Continue to follow the river upstream and you will see a fine pair of London Plane trees (12) to your left. Then after the concrete events area, notice the Ash tree (13) ahead and to your right, just before the playground. It is an odd tree, as the bark changes half way up. It appears that someone has grafted a Manna Ash onto a Common Ash tree, although it is not clear why.

Just beyond the playground you will see the Community Orchard (14). The first trees were planted in 2011 when the park was renovated. They are now maturing and in the summer you should see fruit on the frees. There are apples, pears, plums and cherries. A sign on the far side tells you when it is time to pick.

Turn back at this point and take the path running diagonally up the hill, between a row of cherry trees. In front of you on either side of the path are a fine pair of English Oak trees (15). They have grown without obstruction and have developed that classic oak shape which is so beautiful. They probably mark the line of an old hedgerow from the days when this was Kent countryside.

(To be continued..)

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Ladywell Fields Tree Walk: Part 3

We continue the tree walk from part 2, introducing the twenty most interesting trees in Ladywell Fields. 

As you cross from the northern field into the middle field via the spiral bridge, you will immediately see another fine female Black Poplar (7) in front of you. She also snows in early June. Keep left and follow the path along the riverside. You will soon see a Dawn Redwood or Water Fir (8). These have the distinctive red bark but do not grow very tall like the Giant Redwoods. Again, it likes the moist soil of the river-side.

Next is the Lewisham Elm (9), the only tree in the park with its own sign and designated one of The Great Trees of London. Since Dutch Elm Disease struck the UK in the late 1960s only a few mature elms survive and this is one. The disease actually strikes all elms, not just Dutch ones, so it is uncommon to see any elm over 20 years old. The sign says this is a rare variety ‘Klemmer’, or Flanders Elm. Some experts think that it is actually a European White Elm, but this is also rare and makes its survival no less remarkable. Look for the beautiful confetti-like seeds in spring.

Next along this path is a fine row of London Plane Trees (10). The London Plane is not in fact a native, but thought to be a cross between the Oriental Plane and the American Plane. It was widely planted across London in the 19th century when urban pollution made it difficult for any tree to survive. Its waxy leaves and peeling bark, combined with its ability to grow in very poor soil made it the ideal tree for Victorian London. 

(To be continued..)

Ladywell Fields Orchard Volunteer Workday – Saturday 4 June, 11am

Our next orchard work day will be on Satruday 4th June at 11am. Meet in the communtiy orchard near the south entrance and the children's playground.
In celebration of London Tree Week, the Urban Orchard Project are giving us small potted comfrey plants to accompany the fruit trees. We need to plant them in the ground around the edge of the mulch circle. Comfrey bring valuable minerals up from deep below, which makes the leaves a good addition for future mulching, keeping the trees healthy. For more information see
This is also a chance to do some weeding and inspect for pests and diseases.
Everyone welcome. Bring thick gloves if you have them as there are thistles to pull out.

River clean-up: what's been achieved?

On Sunday 24 April, we worked our way through two the River Ravensbourne from the curly bridge to the southern boundary of the Fields.  We removed various large objects and some 30 black bags worth of cans, bottles and plastic rubbish.  We also cleared the 'Turning Tree' of accumulated debris so that it is once again functioning as it should.  Thanks as ever to Thames 21 for leading the event and supplying all the kit.  Thanks also to the nine children who joined in and enjoyed themselves thoroughly.  All-in-all a worthwhile, sociable and rewarding few hours.