Allerton Cemetery, 7th May 2023

There was no rain today, it was warm and sunny for a change. In Allerton Cemetery all was calm and ordered, with manicured lawns, neat shrubberies and pretty flower beds outside the gate lodges.

The Cherry blossom is falling.

There were Blackbirds about, a Robin and this smart and alert Mistle Thrush.

We saw one or two white butterflies, and a single blue, but all were distant and fast-moving, so we couldn’t identify them. It was the flowering trees that were easier to examine.  Hawthorn, Oak, Sycamore and Hornbeam, as well as some lovely Rhododendrons and Azaleas. The Red Horse Chestnut, the Judas Tree and Laburnum were following closely behind. In a corner is a grafted  Manna Ash, with its white frothy flowers.

We also looked at the Bauman’s Horse Chestnuts,  a variety with double flowers. This interferes with their reproductive apparatus, meaning they are sterile and produce no conkers. They are favoured in town plantings because there are no messy conkers and cases for the council to clear up.

Along the path leading to Springwood we were surprised to see copious Oak Apples on the ground, much mashed by the passing cars. We haven’t seen them so abundantly before. They are caused by a tiny female wasp of the species Biorhiza pallida, who lays her eggs in the developing leaf buds of several species of Oak. The oak itself produces the spongy “apple”, which may contain quite a few developing wasps.

Springwood Avenue is lined by magnificent Copper Beeches.

Over the road is the main crematorium for Liverpool, and its gardens are very beautiful. We sat by the rose beds for lunch and found we were seated under a tree we had looked for earlier in the year without success. It was a Box Elder / Ash-leaved Maple Acer negundo. The male tree puts out clusters of bright pink tassels before the leaves. They have all gone dull and brown now, of course,

Behind the gardens is a small wild woodland called the Eric Hardy Nature Reserve. What a contrast to the neat lawns and shrubberies of the cemetery and crematorium! The woods are mainly Oak, Cherry and Hawthorn, with Bramble and Elder below. This is a young wood, so the floor is colonised by prolific “weeds” like Nettles, Goose Grass, Green Alkanet, Spanish Bluebells, Garlic Mustard, but also Wild Arum (= Lords and Ladies) and Cow Parsley.

A Jay flashed past, and as we emerged at the north end of Clarke Gardens we heard some Ring-necked Parakeets squawking. We walked along the edge, looking at the new trees planted amongst the daffodils. Some have been vandalised and snapped, some are completely gone with just the stakes to show where they had been, and the best survivors seemed to be the unstaked tiny “whips”. Then we headed back for the train. It was full of revellers heading for the Eurovision events in town, so we made the right decision to avoid the buses, which were all being re-routed!  

Public transport details: Train from Central at 10.14, arriving Liverpool South Parkway 10.28. Returned from Liverpool South Parkway station at 14.46.

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