It is about seven years since we were last in Walton Hall Park, no idea why we have neglected it for so long. We noticed many more interesting trees this time than last, as our interest has grown. Near the entrance where we started, by the Children’s Play Area, were two Norway Maples with engraved stones at their feet saying they had been planted in 1935 for the Silver Jubilee of George V and Queen Mary. Further east were two specimen trees in a shrubbery alcove, a Tree of Heaven and a Persian Ironwood. The number of park staff has been much reduced in recent years, so the formal edges are getting wilder, with rambling roses and bindweed growing abundantly over ornamental shrubs and a huge proliferation of the low growing wildflower/weed Black Nightshade. The wildlife is quite happy about that, of course, and one little Scots Pine was home to three or four Garden Spiders with their neatly-wrapped prey.
One large Buddleia bush was supporting a white butterfly and four or five Red Admirals.
This warm summer has promoted an amazing abundance of autumn seeds and fruit. One small Sycamore seemed to have no leaves at the top, just hundreds of bunches of helicopter seeds, while there were so many small crab apples they were weighing down the branches of their tree.
An old tree stump was sprouting vigorous growth which was hard to identify. Was it a Large-leaved Lime? A Mulberry? The chunky leaves were arranged alternately, so it could have been either. It had been very well chewed by a variety of insects, and one leaf had been rolled up. When opened it revealed a brood of spiderlings with the mother keeping guard on the left. There are several species of leaf-curling spiders in the UK, but none of the pictures I looked at seem to be of this one.
Along the northern path the verge was full of planted wildflowers, now going over, but it would have been lovely earlier in the year and we were sorry to have missed it. It was still alive with insects. All along the north-eastern edge of the great field there are thousands of new young trees, fenced off to help them survive. We spotted Oak, Holly, Hawthorn, Hornbeam, Cherry, Elder, Birch, Hazel and Alder. By the fence were three with little black berries and simple leaves whose shape was “weighted” towards the front. The berries had more than two seeds in each. I assume all the saplings were provided free of charge by the Woodland Trust, and so they must be a mix of native trees. So what were these young trees with berries? One of our rarer native species, surely. I am leaning towards Alder Buckthorn, although all their berries seem to be on single stalks, and these are sometimes in clusters.
The boating lake had Canada Geese, eleven Mute Swans and around 50 Coots. There were a few Mallards on the main lake, a late Coot chick with its mother and a probable hybrid Greylag/Canada goose that may be the same one we saw in 2015. The stars of the show were a Great Crested Grebe with four little stripy chicks. Lovely!
It was Heritage Open Day, so we crossed the main road and went to Walton Church. There has been a church on this site since Saxon times, and the city has grown up around it. They have the carved shaft of a stone cross thought to date from the 700s and a Saxon font. The list in the porch of all their Vicars and Rectors starts with “Stephen” in 1174. Amongst their treasures on show was a Bible printed in 1640.
The church itself isn’t so old. The older church had a direct hit by a bomb during WWII and was severely damaged. The bells fell and broke the Saxon font, which has had to be repaired. The church was rebuilt on the same foundations, and I see that the avenue of old Plane trees seems to have survived.
They had a Book of Condolence for the Queen, which we all signed.
Public transport details: Bus 19 from Queen Square at 10.01, arriving Walton Hall Avenue opp. Stanley Park Avenue North at 10.30. Returned on bus 310 from County Road / Church Lane at 3.25, arriving Liverpool 3.40.