One of the grandest avenues of trees in London is the elm avenue in Kensington Gardens which marks the grand finale of this creative walkshop (walking workshop) to mark National Tree Week (26 Nov - 4 Dec 2016). Join Peter Coles, urban nature writer and photographer, as we go stalking elm in Marylebone, Mayfair and Hyde Park.
One of London’s great trees is an elm that has survived for more than 200 years living beside the busy Marylebone High Street. It’s very survival might well be because pollutants in the urban surroundings have defeated its predators. Much of this part of the City of Westminster is barren of street trees, so encountering this elm is a welcome reminder of the value of trees to London as a whole.
Weaving our way through Marylebone, via the streets, squares and gardens of Mayfair we will encounter other trees that have witnessed considerable urban development. Their lived experience has been far more turbulent than the elms and other trees to be found across Park Lane in Hyde Park. Our walking route, may well be determined by the shape and structure of trees as their branches become visible, now their leaves have fallen. This time of year, is often the best time to capture trees photographs, as their branches and trunks stand out starkly against wintery skies.
We are not “tree huggers” but we do love trees, for we feel that they contribute more to our urban neighbourhoods than they detract. Urban trees are a hardy bunch, able to absorb not only natural hazards, but also man-made pollutants, restoring the quality of air we breathe, and providing habitat for many species of wildlife. Many trees have witnessed significant changes to their surroundings, so as our cities expand, some trees are threatened by development, others are planted to create new vistas, shade and shelter.
For several years, we have been getting people to share their knowledge and stories about trees, and more recently, with the help of urban naturalist, photographer and writer Peter Coles, we have ‘stalking trees’ to discover more about individual species and specimen, and how they can be photographed in different seasons.