July 2023

Tree Matters
Graham Jack

Example tree labelling

   According to Harrow Council’s Arboricultural asset officer (who keeps track of the borough’s trees) we have over 400 in our park: some common and instantly recognisable; some rare and less easy to identify; some native to the British Isles; and some exotic imports.

    Those of us who grew up in the UK or Europe can probably recognise some of our most common trees, such as the oak, horse chestnut, or silver birch.  But can we tell a beech from a hornbeam? Or identify those huge trees which line our streets and shed their bark regularly?  On the other hand, if you have recently settled in Harrow from Africa, Hong Kong, or other far-off places, then even those most common trees may be unfamiliar to you.

    If you’ve ever admired a particular tree and wondered what it’s called, or wanted to know more about it, then Bill Stephenson, our “park champion”, has for many years been nursing an ambition to help you. Your HRUA committee loves a challenge, so we have launched our tree labelling project to realise that ambition, so that in the future you can identify trees in the Park and elsewhere.

    The project is being run with assistance from Harrow Council and our expert dendrologist, John Wells, and with funding from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) – a government programme whose objectives include promoting “people’s pride in the places they love…”.

   We’ve adopted three main goals for our project:

  • To Celebrate the wonderful diversity of trees in the Park
  • To Educate park users
    • Getting everyone, young and old, to be more knowledgeable about the most common trees found in Britain
    • Helping people identify and learn about some of the more exotic trees that we are fortunate to have in our park
  • And to Encourage all of us to venture off the formal paths and roam more widely in the less-well marked tracks

    Phase 1 has been underway since the spring, and by October we plan to have labels fixed to about 30 trees (a mix of common UK trees and other trees of interest).  The label will give the tree's common and scientific name (aka “Latin name”), plus a QR code that links to more information.  We will also publish information about the labelled trees – on noticeboards, our Facebook group and the HRUA website.

The Tree Project Team hard at work - Bill Stephenson, Gerry Mahaffey, Jane Galbraith, and me (the photographer)

Planning the tree labels - work in progress

    We have lots of ideas for future phases, including developing a “Tree Discovery Trail” and developing further information about trees of interest in the park, such as the Mayoral tree avenues.

    In the meantime, our Autumn Tree Walk with John Wells on 1st October, will feature a launch of the new tree labels, with special guests. Why not put the day in your diary, and come down to the park and give our trees some love!

Have your say...

    We welcome your thoughts, views and comments on the project - please email info@harrowrec.org.uk to tell us what you think, or to get involved. 

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