A Blossom-Filled Walk in East Finchley Cemetery

Goodness Readers, although East Finchley Cemetery is a much posher, more manicured cemetery than my favourite, St Pancras and Islington Cemetery, it certainly has some very trees. Today, the rose-garden was looking a bit bare, but the trees more than made up for it.

One of the disadvantages of roses is that, although they look and smell wonderful when they’re in flower, they are very uninteresting for the rest of the year (and many varieties need a fair bit of looking after as well, what with the pruning and the feeding and the keeping an eye open for black spot). Furthermore, this part of the cemetery, which has an ornamental pond and then a small stream running down the middle, has been a bit of a problem for the landscape gardeners – the bit at the bottom was a quagmire earlier this year, though the weeping willows loved it.

However, there are some very pretty trees here. There is the usual Kanzan cherry tree, not my favourite but very ebullient.

Kanzan cherry. Look at all those petals!

There are some magenta-coloured crab apples too – I think this is purple crab (Malus x purpurea) but am happy to be corrected, as always.

But I think my favourite is this tree, which I think could be Siberian crab (Malus baccata), possibly the Lady Northcliffe variety? I think that it might be the prettiest blossom tree I’ve ever seen, what with those cherry-pink buds. Let me know what you think, you clever people!

Elsewhere, I find an Indian horse chestnut (Aesculus indica) – it has much narrower, more dainty leaves than ‘our’ horse chestnut, and is smaller and more delicate. I love the way that this cemetery makes a feature of its specimen trees – some of those in St Pancras and Islington are rather swallowed up with undergrowth, though this is much better for wildlife. I’m lucky to have both types of cemetery within a twenty-minute walk.

Indian horse chestnut (Aesculus indica)

And the pollen from this fir tree is absolutely everywhere. No wonder my husband’s nose is twitching. I’m thinking it looks most like a Nordmann Fir (i.e. the one that’s used as a Christmas tree), and if so these are the male flowers.

The ‘willow garden’ is coming on nicely, with lots of spring flowers, including this rather nice white Dicentra.

And the tree below rather caught me out – it’s a bay tree. I’d never seen one in flower before. What a twit.

I always stop to pay homage to the Cedar of Lebanons as well. What magnificent trees they are, planted when the cemetery first opened in 1854. I love the barrel-shaped cones, which gradually disintegrate, allowing the seeds to fall.

And the monkey-puzzle tree is putting on lots of new growth too – look at those cones! Apparently they will break up on the tree, rather than falling on someone’s head.

While I was admiring the monkey puzzle, my husband spotted that I had a hitchhiker – this bee. I’m thinking that it’s an orange-tailed mining bee (Andrena haemorrhoa) but these are tricky critters to ID to species level. As it likes south-facing grassy slopes to nest in, there will be plenty of opportunities for it in the cemetery – in some places the turf is kept very short, but there are also areas that are more overgrown.

The cemetery is a hot-spot for bats, too. What a shame that it closes at 4.30 p.m! But then there are signs outside prohibiting alcohol and barbecues, so I imagine that it has been the site of what I loosely describe as ‘urban vibrance’. Maybe it’s just as well that the bats, birds and bees have the whole place to themselves as dusk falls.

A fine array of bat boxes


3 thoughts on “A Blossom-Filled Walk in East Finchley Cemetery

  1. Anne

    So many of the trees you mention are exotic. They must be representative of a time when the world was England’s oyster and the ‘best’ of anything was brought back to enjoy on home shores. I enjoyed your commentary this morning.

    1. Bug Woman Post author

      The trees that end up in the gardens of stately homes were certainly relics of Empire, Anne – the Victorians in particular shipped back seedlings from the four corners of the world. In cemeteries it’s often cedars and pines and big stately trees which were thought to be ‘mournful’. I’m sure that most of the cedars of Lebanon in the UK are in cemeteries.


Leave a Reply