Reynolds Park, 4th June 2023

Reynold Park is a jewel, tucked away in Woolton, near the official residence of the Bishop of Liverpool. Its walled garden is now one of the only places in Liverpool where there is still a proper old-fashioned display of roses and dahlias between neatly-mowed lawns and herbaceous borders, and where they make an effort with the topiary. We, however, went in by the back gate.

Their wildflower meadow is here, planted by the Friends about ten years ago. Our late friend Olive was one of the team putting in the plug plants. It wasn’t the showy just-planted display of colour which you sometimes see on roadsides, and not very exciting-looking, but it is probably evolving into a proper wildflower-rich meadow. We spotted Meadow Cranesbill and Buttercups, and lots of different grasses, and there will be more flowers to come later in the season. We thought we would see some butterflies there, but sadly not.

We walked along the north edge of the main field, looking at the trees lining the path. The Beeches are having another great fruiting year, and we thought we spotted some early fruits of the Sweet Chestnut.

Developing Beech mast
Developing fruits of Sweet Chestnut?

One small tree out on the grass looked newly-planted, and didn’t seem to have many leaves out. It still bore its nursery label, and it was Alnus glutinosa ‘Imperialis’, a new one on me. It’s a Common Alder, but extremely “cut-leaved”. Some nursery websites call it the Royal Alder and say it is very light and airy, with an elegant pyramidal crown of feathery green foliage.

Just before the Walled Garden is a sunken lawn where they have interesting trees. There was no sign of the Oriental Plane or the fastigiate Pin Oak that we have looked at before, but the Sweet Gum (Liquidambar) was growing well. There is a new yellow-foliaged Honey Locust “Sunburst”, and a snake-bark Maple near to the path that I haven’t noticed before. Could it be a Moosebark Acer pensylvanicum? It has the stripy bark and large three-pointed leaves.

The sunken lawn – possible Moosebark on the left, yellow Honey Locust in the middle

We sat in the walled garden in the hot sun for our lunch. It seems ages since we had any rain.

Then we strolled around the herbaceous border. We still didn’t see many butterflies, just an  occasional white one, but the border was buzzing with Bumble bees. We saw Buff-tailed and Red-tailed. We also admired the flowers. There were Triliiums, both white and purple, some marvellous yellow-brown Irises of the variety ‘Rajah’ and a brilliant little red flower that might be an ornamental strawberry.

Iris ‘Rajah’
Strawberry flowers?

They also have some special trees. The Judas tree was flourishing around the entrance tunnel, although its flowers had gone over. The Tulip Tree was in flower, and we were able to reach one to smell it. Yes, they DO smell of chocolate, specifically warm and melting Cadbury’s milk chocolate!

The Indian Bean tree was doing well, although it is late to leaf, so was only just out. And there is a beautiful Chinese Dogwood Cornus kousa with its lovely flowers.

Not may birds today. The usual Wood Pigeons and Magpies, Robins singing and a Long-tailed Tit in a dead tree. On the ground in the walled garden were Blackbirds, Sparrows and Dunnocks. Then we headed down Church Road and popped in to St Peter’s churchyard to see the gravestone of Eleanor Rigby. We were just commenting that it was unusual not to see any Beatles tourists about, when a guide appeared with two of them in tow, running through his spiel about “Father Mackenzie”. Parked outside was their “tour bus”, a magnificent Rolls Royce, painted up like a gypsy caravan or a canal boat and said to be a replica of John Lennon’s roller. I looked up the company, Beatstours, and they offer a very extensive three-hour tour, stopping at all the statues, landmarks and birthplaces, at £70 per person. 

Public transport details: Bus 75 from Liverpool ONE bus station at 10.00, arriving Rose Brow at 10.30. Returned from Woolton Village on the 75 at 2.20, arriving Liverpool 2.45.

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