Local tree expert Bettina Metcalfe writes: Belsize Park has more different tree species than most people realise, ranging from native to quite exotic trees. The traditional planting consists mainly of London Plane trees, Lime trees, Maples and Ash and we can still see magnificent large old trees in some of our local streets. Nowadays, many councils adopt a different planting regime; they favour smaller spring-flowering trees such as cultivars of Hawthorn, Cherry, Apple, Pear and Juneberry. Due to climate change, there is, however, also a trend to increasingly diversify and plant more exotic trees from further afield in our streets.
You can find Trident Maple from Korea in Swiss Cottage behind Hampstead Theatre along with Tulip trees from the eastern USA. Fellows Road boasts a number of unusual street trees; Harlequin Glorybower a small example from Japan has been added recently and the Foxglove tree from China displayed its large blue trumpet-shaped flowers in April. Lyndhurst Gardens features a profusely flowering Manna Ash and a couple of Golden Rain trees. The delicate leaves of Henry’s Lime from China can be spotted in Belsize Avenue and you can admire the bark of the Mediterranean Cork Oak in Lancaster Grove. A very fine example of a Turkish Hazel is growing in Downside Crescent. The mottled bark of Crepe Myrtle from Asia is most intriguing, it is hardy in most of the UK; look out for its reddish crimpled flowers in summer in Belsize Square.
We’ve had an early dry spring this year and were therefore blessed with an extended period of fabulous spring blossoms. Newly planted trees need to be watered, especially in the first three years after planting. Some trees have a slow release green watering bag fitted around the trunk which is filled through a small opening at the top and can hold about 50 litres. Please help look after the trees in your neighbourhood and water them regularly.
If you would like to learn more about the trees in London, go to treetalk.co.uk which maps many of the street trees. Trees are represented by green circles and by clicking on them, useful information is given about each tree. The website Trees in Camden Map Open Data Portal also gives details of the trees in Camden.
Please email Bettina at email@example.com if you are interested in improving your tree identification skills.
List of Interesting Trees in Belsize
Scientific name, English name, year of introduction and origin
Swiss Cottage. Acer buergerianum, Trident Maple, 1896, E China and Korea
Haverstock Hill. Liriodendron tulipifera, Tulip Tree, 1680s, East USA
Fellows Road. Clerodendron trichtomum, Harlequin Glorybower, c1880 China and Japan; Paulownia tomentosa, Foxglove Tree, 1838, China
Lyndhurst Gardens. Fraxinus ornus, Manna Ash, late 1660s, South Europe and SW Asia; Koelreuteria paniculata, Golden Rain Tree, 1763, Asia, China
Belsize Avenue. Tilia henryana, Henry’s Lime, 1901, C China.
Lancaster Grove. Quercus suber, Cork Oak, late 1600s, S Europe and N Africa
Belsize Square. Lagerstroemia indica, Crape Myrtle, 1759, China and Korea
Downside Crescent. Corylus colurna, Turkish Hazel, 1582, SE Europe, Asia
TREES IN BELSIZE: HELPING THE SOCIETY Are you interested in preserving trees in Belsize? Would you like to help our community organisation? We’d welcome a member to act on the Society’s behalf commenting on applications made to the Council about trees. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.