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..)