Thrive triangle

This is not so much a walk but a patch of trees that is worth a wander around. It is, not surprisingly, in a triangular area next to the Thrive garden – what used to be called the ATV garden. For quite a small area of the park it has a good number of interesting trees in it.

Probably the biggest tree in this area is the Oak that stands on the apex of the triangle at the top end of the path into the Thrive garden. It’s a very impressive tree and the trunk has many burrs on it. The tree behind and to the right of this oak is taller but not as massive. It is also an Oak but a Red oak rather than an English or Pedunculate oak like the big one; it’s leaves have more pointy lobes than the familiar oak leaf. Another big tree behind the oak is a Field maple. Again, it is big and tall but not as massive as the oak which has a huge trunk and limbs. Standing underneath all these trees is a small Crab-apple tree which is still in a good enough position to get plenty of afternoon light and produces lots of bright red fruit.

Two more sizeable trees at the top end of the triangle are a Cherry tree just below the Field maple and below that, near the T-junction of the paths is a variegated Maple. I think this is a variegated Sycamore, Acer pseudoplatanus ‘Varegatum Leopoldii’ which is quite a mouthful to say a sycamore with mottly leaves, but apparently it is quite rare.

The path to the Thrive garden defines the top edge of this triangle and just off this path there is an odd-shaped Silver birch. Below that and closer to the Thrive garden fence there is a Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima). It has pinnate leaves, much like an Ash tree, meaning they are arranged in a feather like pattern. The Tree of Heaven is dioecious so trees are either male or female. I know of two of these trees in the park but don’t know what sex they are yet.

A number of trees in this area are Himalayan birches. They are readily recognisable by their white stems. Many of them are multi-stemmed and have peeling bark. I think they are a particular variety known as Betula utilis Jacquemotii. I believe there are also a number of them inside the \Thrive garden.

Below the Tree of Heaven there is a Crab apple, which I didn’t really notice last Spring but it produce a load of fruit in the Summer and it has clung on to them all through Winter. Next to this is an American sweet gum tree (Liquidambar styraciflua). They have lobed leaves a little bit like a maple, but more deeply cut and pointy. They have a reputation of producing very bright red colours in Autumn. This particular tree took its time last Autumn and was quite a bit behind the other sweet gums.

Moving down from the Sweet gum, between two Himalayan birches there is a small apple tree with a broken branch hanging down but still cling on to life and flowering vigorously. This tree produces wonderful bright pink blossom and lives up to its name, Malus spectabilis or Asiatic apple. Not far away there is another apple, this time a multi-stemmed crab apple. Further down still, closer to the fence there is a taller crab apple, which produces a deep pink blossom in the Spring, followed by small bright red fruits.

Step back towards the path, from the last crab apple, and you will come across a Medlar (Mespilus germanica). It has white flowers in Spring and small, russet brown fruit which are best consumed when bletted – a process of over-ripening the fruit to make it more palatable. None of the medlar fruits that I’ve seen, in the park, seem large enough to bother with but maybe its quality that matters more than quantity.

Closer, still, to the path is a very small cherry tree.

From the cherry tree, walk away from the path, past a Himalayan birch and as you reach the fence you will be standing by a Norway maple (Acer platanoides). It has variegated leaves and may be a variety known as Drummondii. The big gnarly tree below it is a Field maple (Acer campestre) our only native maple. It is a particularly handsome tree in the Spring when it has a fresh flush of leaves and it is in flower.

Just across the path from the Field maple, perhaps up a bit, there is a a Sour cherry tree (Prunus cerasus) that has white blossom in Spring. It’s flanked by a Copper beech above it and a Snakebark maple below it. It’s worth getting up close to the Snakebark maple to have a good look at the markings on the trunk and some of the lower branches.

There are only three more trees left within the triangular area, a pear, a maple and an oak. The pear, I believe, is a Callery pear which is a native of China and its white blossoms are supposed to smell of rotten fish which attracts flies as the main pollinator, rather than bees. The maple is a Cappadocian maple (Acer cappadocicum) which has the usual five pointed leaves but the central point, at least, is rather more wispy. The oak is just a regular oak (Quercus robur).

Just across the path from this triangular patch, there is a large oak. You may have to cross a little stream to get underneath it but once you are you can appreciate its huge size and large canopy. There are two other oaks further downstream.

If you cross the path again, near the lowest oak, you come into a wooded area. There is a Hornbeam by the corner of the fence with two more, tiny Hornbeam saplings which are probably self-seeded. The wooded area has a lot of large Scots pine, Elder and some Hazel. Altogether there are forty two Scots pine in this part of the park with a lot of them being over on the other side of the path. Also on the other side of the path is a large ash tree. Opposite the Ash tree there is a Copper beech and another Oak.

On the corner of the path the small, somewhat mis-shaped tree is a Medlar. Following the path around there are two large trees, on the right, which overhang the path. These are Silver maples and in early Spring these overhanging branches are bright red with small flowers. Sometimes an occasional speck of yellow flowers are also seen. Most of the trees behind are silver birches and some of these also overhang the path, further along.

There are a good many more trees within reach of here but this is a good place to stop and sit on one of the three benches and just take in the view and relax in the company of the trees. This is a quiet spot in the park and may be as close as we can get to Waldeinsamkeit, the German word for that sublime feeling of being alone in the woods.