Sunday, 25 April 2010

A tree walk in the park

Yesterday morning Susan and I went for a walk around Lenton Recreation Ground. It's something we have been doing for last thirty years. But this time was different. We went along to the launch of the park's 'Tree Trail', which was led by Steve, one of Nottingham City Council's park rangers and a regular visitor to our park. He quickly introduced the thirteen locals and two children who turned up to Graham, who actually did a lot of the work involved in identifying the trees in the park and provided a lot of the information which appears in the Lenton Recreation Ground 'Tree Trail' leaflet. The pics try to capture what was a very enjoyable and informative morning.
After pre-walk tea and cake we all gathered outside the park pavilion so that Steve could tell his audience a little about the history of Lenton Recreation Ground and what we should look out for.
My aim with this blog is to whet your appetite, so that you will go and pick up your own tree trail leaflet from Dave, our resident groundsman — which means I won't be telling you all about all thirty trees marked on the trail map (there are a lot more trees than this in the park, which you will be able to identify once you have used the leaflet). The second tree we stopped by was a Norway Maple, which was introduced to England in 1683, and of which 'numerous ornamental varieties exist'.
This is a pic of the Norway Maple which I took in November 2008. It is the most noticeable tree in the park, because it stands alone in the grassed part of Lenton Recreation Ground. I have many pics of it through the seasons and I like it best in late-autumn, when it is losing its leaves. Until yesterday I am ashamed to say I did not know it was a Norway Maple.
This is Graham, who was the real star of the morning. It was like walking around with your very own tree encyclopaedia. He was entertaining, informative and a joy to listen to. Here he is early on in our walk holding a leaf from a Highclere Holly tree. This particular example is a 'male' and 'very tolerant of pollution'.
Tree No.14 on our walk was a London Plane and Graham thinks is probably the largest (and oldest) tree in the park, which must have been left in situ when Lenton Recreation Ground was being created in the late-1880s. This was a tree I could identify, having grown up in Wembley on the edge of London. The London Plane is also the tree which lines Nottingham's boulevards, including, of course, our own Castle, Lenton and Radford boulevards. It's another tree I have taken lots of pictures of, but not this particular one. My favourite is on the south side of the park between the bowling green and Church Street. What I didn't know is that local authorities place values on trees and Graham estimates that this particular tree is worth 'about £190,000', whereas normal street trees are valued at '£10 to £15,000'.
I took this pic of one of the London Planes between the bowling green and Church Street in August 2007. I love its shape and never fail to look at it whenever I go in the park.
I was pleased to see that the 'Tree Trail' included the humble silver birch and I have used the two examples by the playing area on numerous occasions to 'frame' pics. And here I do it again to capture Steve telling us about this very English and relatively short-lived native tree. It is another tree I am fond of and you can find them all around Lenton.
This is another pic from 2007. This short path through the pocket-sized Priory Park in Old Lenton, less than ten minutes walk from Lenton Recreation Ground, is one my favourite Lenton spots, with its small copse of Silver Birch trees. As a child, I would catch a No.18 bus from Wembley to Harrow Weald, then a 158 to Stanmore Common. Within 40 minutes you could be lost in a wood of silver birch and elms (which have long gone and I have no idea what this once idyllic corner of Middlesex now looks like). It was heaven and to walk along the albeit far too short a path in Priory Park is a Tardis-like experience. I see and experience more in this small park than I do in many larger parks close by.
If you visit in the week after I have posted this blog you will see a version of this pic which shows just Steve's face. Susan says he is 'just looking up'. Me? I see a man enjoying a 'happy moment' of sorts, as Graham explains how to tell the flower of a chery tree from that of a apple tree. The tree they holding onto is a 'Pillar Apple', also known as a 'Chonosuki's Crab', which was introduced to England from Japan in 1897.
OK. Here's another version of the same pic. If it catches the attention of my website viewers and gets them to this blog about Lenton Recreation Ground's new 'Tree Trail', then it will have done its job — and I am sure that Steve will forgive me for taking advantage of a pic I took purely by chance. Just occasionally, us 'happy snappers' get lucky.

Yesterday morning was really enjoyable. Steve and Graham were great. I was going to an afternoon lecture in town, but by the time we had finished and walked home (all of fifty yards at most) for lunch, it was too late and I didn't mind one bit. I was still on a high of my own and away with the trees, if not the fairies.  If you want to unwind for a couple of hours, then go and see Dave in the park, pick up a 'Tree Trail' leaflet and enjoy.

Nottingham born novelist Alan Sillitoe died today at the age of 82. His best known works were Saturday Night and Sunday Morning and The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner. He left school at 14 and worked at the Raleigh bicycle factory in Lenton until he went off to do his natonal service in his late-teens.

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