St James’ Gardens, 14th November 2021

This morning we went to the Service of Remembrance at Liverpool Cathedral. In previous years the service has been held at the Cenotaph in Lime Street, but it’s still all blocked off with road works. The Cathedral site was a success, I think, and the event might stay there for the future. The dignitaries and military personnel were inside, while the rest of us stood outside, looking at a big screen. It was a lovely sunny day, with just a bit of a chilly wind. Before the service a Buzzard soared high overhead and when the gun went off, marking the two minutes’ silence, it startled the resident pair of Peregrines, which circled near the tower, observing the crowds below. We had no inkling of the serious incident outside the Women’s Hospital, although later in the day there was a police helicopter flying back and forth over the area.

We had lunch in St James’ Gardens, below the Cathedral. The sun-warmed stones were swarming with Harlequin ladybirds, looking for crevices to hibernate in. A Jay flew across the path. It has been a very poor year for acorns, says the Woodland Trust, so I don’t know how Jays will manage this winter.

We rummaged around the south end of the gardens looking for champion trees. There are only two here, and they haven’t been checked or recorded since 2004. One was supposed to be a Golden Ash, but we found no sign of it. There WAS an old gnarled Ash, but its remaining leaves were green, not yellow. In 2004 its girth was listed as 220 cm, and we measured this old tree at 260 cm, a plausible increase in 17 years. So has the champion Golden Ash been felled, or is this the actual tree which has reverted from gold to the more usual green?

The other was a rare thorn, the Dotted Hawthorn or White Haw Crataegus punctata. It is said to have light grey bark, a thorny trunk and 3-5 seeds in the haw. The champion tree in St James Gardens is the girth and height county champion of Lancashire, 141 cm girth in 2004, with an extra stem at 1.5 meters. We found a tree which looks possible. There were no thorns on the trunk, and it wasn’t particularly light in colour, but it was definitely some kind of hawthorn with multiple seeds in the fruit. We measured the girth, which was 159 cm, another plausible increase from 2004.

We walked back to the city centre via the small plantation of Dawn Redwoods at the junction of Upper Duke Street and Gt George’s Street, on the pavement opposite the Chinese Arch and the old church known as “The Blackie”. There are eleven of them, now with their needles turning rusty red and looking stunning.

Public transport details: We walked in and out of the city centre today

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