Allerton Cemetery and Clarke Gardens, 23rd August 2020

On a wet and windy day I met two others of the group for the first time since March and we went tree hunting in Allerton Cemetery and Clarke Gardens. We were interrupted several times by heavy showers, but at least there were plenty of trees to shelter under. Our first target tree was this Persian Ironwood Parrotia persica, which is the Lancashire girth champion at 118 cm.

Near the southern quartet of Monkey Puzzle trees there is a very interesting little Judas Tree. It isn’t a listed champion for height or girth, but it is a survivor. We first noted it over a decade ago, when it was just a broken and fallen sapling, but it has grown and re-rooted remarkably and this year it is covered in seed pods, unlike the one in Reynolds Park.

Last week I looked at two Japanese Pagoda trees in Hesketh Park, which were county height champions. The girth champion of the same species in Lancashire is this one, at 207 cm. Many trees which live long enough to be the tallest or widest get to be rather straggly, and look like they might be on their last legs. This is one of them.

We also found the champion Highclere Holly, Ilex x altaclerensis ‘Wilsonii’. At 12 meters, it is the county height champion, but it doesn’t look very dramatic, just one of the many big old dark Holly trees. More exciting was a Great Spotted Woodpecker, which had adopted the spire of the north chapel at its perch and was admiring the view.

On the other side of Springwood Avenue is Clarke Gardens, which surround Allerton Hall.  It is now a restaurant but it was formerly the home of one of Liverpool’s West Indies merchant families, the Hardmans, who were slave traders. We took the path around the back of the hall, in the area once designated as the Eric Hardy nature reserve. The path edges were full of Bramble, masses of Himalayan Balsam and also some more demure woodland wildflowers like Wood Avens and Enchanter’s Nightshade.

Masses of Himalayan Balsam
Enchanter’s Nightshade

More champion trees to photograph here – a Narrow-leaved Ash, Fraxinus angustifolia, girth & height county champion; a Pin Oak, Quercus palustris, girth county champion at 222 cm and a remarkable Hungarian Oak, a species I have never seen before. Another new one was this Oriental Beech, Fagus orientalis, girth and height champion of Lancashire at 18 meters and 284 cm. The leaves are very similar to ordinary Beech, just with something “not quite right” about them, but the trunk is fluted, not a plain column, and it breaks into branches far lower down.

For the last tree on the list we had to go down the side of the house to the east lawn, where there is a Blue Colorado Spruce, Picea pungens, the girth and height champion of the county. It is very tall at 22 meters (about 70 feet) and was said by Alan Mitchell in 2015 to be “unusually good”. Sadly, it appears to be coming to the end of its life and was looking very sick and sparse. It’s the distant tall tree in the centre on this picture.

So that was a good day, with seven more champion trees photographed for the Tree Register. And there were some bright and cheerful red “wild” roses planted in the shrubbery around Liverpool South Parkway station. Very nice!

Public transport details: Merseyrail train southbound from Blundellsands and Crosby at 9.13, changed at Moorfields, arrived Liverpool South Parkway (LSP) station at 9.55. I just missed the return train back to Central, which are currently only running hourly, so I got the train from Manchester at 14.39, arriving Liverpool at 14.55.

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