Sefton Park Gardens, 8th September 2019

Today was another National Garden Scheme day, when members of the RHS with extraordinary private gardens open them to the public for a small fee, proceeds to charity. Nothing starts until noon, so we dawdled outside the Museum of Liverpool to see the old Ribble buses that had drawn up there for the company’s 100th birthday

Princes Park, where we had an early lunch, has a wealth of unusual trees, but we only puzzled over one of them, a young conifer that looked like some kind of Cypress. It had unusual fruits shaped like bells which came apart into separate slices, which were the seeds. Happily the Friends of the Park have numbered all their star trees and labelled them with QR codes that link to their website. It says that tree number 3 is an Incense Cedar Calocedrus decurrens. It isn’t a true cedar.  The sweet-smelling wood is used to make pencils.

Our first garden was the marvellous Park Mount at 38 Ullet Road. A large traditional garden with sweeping curved lawns and little plots of ornamental trees and shrubs.

They had a young Indian Bean tree by the side of the house, and small tree on the edge of a lawn with pretty opened seed heads like little lanterns. It looked rather like a Spindle, but we have never seen the native Spindle Tree open its fruits like that. The owner agreed, rather vaguely, that it was a Spindle, but I think it was a decorative “garden” species, the Korean Spindle Tree Euonymous oxyphyllus.

All around the edge was a woodland walk with odd little nooks containing a temple here, a barbecue there, and statuary in odd corners. Altogether an astounding garden.

The next one was Sefton Villa at 14 Sefton Drive, a lovely small garden with a secluded shady area containing four or five big bonsai trees, which must have taken years of careful nurturing.

Then we walked around to Sefton Park Allotments. It was a riot of sheds and greenhouses, Sunflowers and Nasturtiums, and some serious vegetable growing.

One greenhouse had a successful crop of tomatoes coming on, but also an unexpected row of ripening red grapes.

Do you remember the old TV series “Bread”, about a fictional Liverpool family? The father of the family had an ongoing affair with a woman from these allotments known as “Lilo Lil”. Her shed has survived, the owner is about to restore it, and he is thinking of putting a blue plaque on it!

Lots of vegetables were on sale (also for charity) and I bought an unusual spiky thing called a Bolivian Cucumber, also known as an Achocha, about the size of an egg. It is said by the botanist James Wong to be very good fried, sautéed or baked. We shall see!

Public transport details:  Bus 80A from Liverpool ONE bus station at 10.50 arriving Princes Avenue / Kingsley Road at 11.08. Returned on the 86 from Smithdown Road / Greenbank Road at 15.47, arriving City Centre at 16.05.

Next few weeks:
15th September, Heritage Open Day, Old Lister Drive library. Meet at Queen Square at 10 am

Anyone is welcome to come out with the Sunday Group. It is not strictly part of the MNA, although it has several overlapping members. We go out by public transport to local parks, woods and nature reserves all over Merseyside, and occasionally further afield. We are mostly pensioners, so the day is free on our bus passes, and we enjoy fresh air, a laugh and a joke, a slow amble in pleasant surroundings and sometimes we even look at the wildlife!
If you want to join a Sunday Group walk, pack lunch, a flask, waterproofs, binoculars if you have them, a waterproof pad to sit on if we have to have lunch on the grass or a wet bench (A garden kneeler? A newspaper in a plastic bag?), and wear stout shoes or walking boots. We are usually back in Liverpool City Centre by 4pm at the latest.

If you are interested in the wildlife of the north-west of England and would like to join the walks and coach trips run by the Merseyside Naturalists’ Association, see the main MNA website for details of our programme and how to join us.

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