A Brisk Walk on Summerlee Avenue

Some Peace roses on Summerlee Avenue

Dear Readers, today was Wednesday, which means a 9 a.m. work call for my husband and so a rather more energetic and speedy early morning walk than usual. Today, we did a quick loop along Summerlee Avenue, which features a splendid selection of 1920’s and 1930’s houses, with their big bay windows, and medium-sized front gardens. I was struck by the array of Peace roses in the garden above – this was my Mum’s favourite rose variety (along with an inexplicable fondness for ‘Blue Moon’, which always seemed to me to be grey rather than blue).

This part of East Finchley is probably technically known as Fortis Green, and is slightly posher  than the County Roads where I live. This particular road slopes gently downwards towards Cherry Tree Wood.

There are some wonderful gardens here. I especially like this one.

I love a garden that looks as if you couldn’t fit in another leaf, and this one hits the spot. I love the bright orange and red of the alstroemeria as well, plus the sedum just starting to change from green to pink. I imagine the pollinators will be delighted.

Further along the road there is a positive sea of ox-eye daisies.

And this is the most magnificent hydrangea, fully the size of a small tree.

This garden used to have a fountain in the front, but now it has a pond. I’m not sure if the netting is to deter humans or herons, or maybe it’s just to keep the leaves out. I am enjoying the yellow loosestrife, very cheerful!

And then it’s into the woods, and our usual game of dodging the runners and dog walkers whilst waving and shouting ‘hello’. Cherry Tree Wood, like Coldfall Wood, used to be part of a much larger tract of ancient woodland, and so it has the same mix of hornbeam with oak standards. There are some magnificent trees here, but it’s more of a ‘park’ and less of a ‘woodland’. The Friends group for Cherry Tree are hoping to create a development plan, which will probably include some coppicing, as in our wood – it’s amazing what’s lurking in the seedbank ready to spring forth once it gets some sunshine.

I love the way that this oak has twisted as it’s grown.

This is a very mature wood, with little understorey. It’s very atmospheric, though. I half expect a wolf to run along the pathway (though normally it’s a labradoodle which is not at all the same thing).

Then it’s out of the wood and along the unadopted road where I found the corncockle a few weeks ago. The corncockle has faded, but there are still a few poppies and cornflowers holding on, and some rather lovely corn marigolds. These are listed as vulnerable, and are yet another declining arable weed.

Poppies (Papaver rhoeas)

Corn marigold (Glebionis segetum)

There is a magnificent stand of pendulous sedge too. I just hope that no-one ever wants to get rid of it, as they’ll need a machete for sure.

My field guide to plants describes this plant as ‘easily overlooked’, and so it is – I’d been cheerfully writing it down as red deadnettle, when it clearly isn’t. In fact, it’s black horehound (Ballota nigra), and I definitely feel a Wednesday Weed coming on.

I used to know this grey-foliaged, yellow-flowered plant as Senecio, but these days apparently it’s Brachyglottis. It comes originally from New Zealand, and loves full sun. This one was doing extremely well.

Now, Readers, I need your help with this one, that I have fallen in love with. The flowers remind me of tansy, but the whole plant has a cool, pale green air about it which I find very appealing. What on earth is it, though?

Mystery plant!

Someone is growing a crop of Hedge Bindweed (Calystegia sepium) which is pink and white candy-striped – very interesting! Field bindweed (Convulvulus arvensis) is a small-flowered pink and white plant, but I’ve never seen this colouration on the larger plant. If it wasn’t such a pain one could almost grow it on purpose.

And no walk in this area is complete without a quick look at this unpromising bit of garden at the top-end of Park Hall Road. This has provided me with some very unusual Wednesday Weeds – I can only wonder if some soul planted it with wildflower seeds many moons ago. It is the only site locally that I know for : tufted vetch (Vicia cracca)…

Tufted vetch

hedge bedstraw.(Galium album)…

….and lucerne (Medicago sativa ssp sativa)

And then it’s a final loop back to the High Street as we hot-foot it for home. I am delighted to see that the pollarded London plane trees are starting to fight back: each branch looks as if it’s holding a leafy bird’s nest aloft. It really surprises me how many plants it’s possible to see in half an hour, even if one is travelling at speed. And a walk always sets me up for the day. I heartily recommend it if it’s possible for you in your lockdown circumstances, and if it isn’t, I hope it will be soon. I have so much to be grateful for.















6 thoughts on “A Brisk Walk on Summerlee Avenue

  1. Fran & Bobby Freelove

    Your mystery plant is a Santolina, we think Rosmarinifolia. Unlike the usual grey/green foliage this had green leaves, there is a more yellow leaved one called Lemon Fizz.
    Nice photos, it proves you can make the most of your garden however small.

    1. Bug Woman

      Thanks, Fran and Bobby….I seem to remember something about Santolina being a great plant for insect deterrence (not that I want to deter most insects, but something for clothes moths would be handy 🙂 )

  2. Anne

    This was a pretty ‘speed-walk’: we had some ancient Peace roses on the property when we moved here – sadly neglected for too long so we could only enjoy them for about two years before they succumbed to age. It has been fun peeping into some gardens along the way.

    1. Bug Woman

      Glad you enjoyed it, Anne! Yep, roses need a lot of looking after, I sometimes wonder why they’re quite so popular. But then, I remember the white climbing rose at Mum and Dad’s bungalow, and how beautiful it was, and I remember the scent. Apparently the people who have moved into the house are real rose devotees, so the plants are looking better than ever. That would have made Mum and Dad very happy..

  3. Sarah

    Do you think the convolvulus is a normal variant? The convolvulus in my garden is all white but I was helping at my friend’s allotment today and his had faint but definite pink stripes – narrower than the ones in your photo but pink all the same.

    1. Bug Woman

      According to my plant book it is an occasional normal variant – I wondered if the plant was a hybrid with field bindweed, but apart from the candy stripes it looks identical to normal hedge bindweed. Very pretty it is too (though no less of a monster).


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