A Bank Holiday Walk in St Pancras and Islington Cemetery

Dear Readers, as we’ve been walking the Capital Ring  on Saturdays for the past few weeks, I’ve been neglecting my beloved St Pancras and Islington Cemetery. But today we popped over to see how things were doing. For some plants, autumn has definitely come early, though the rains of the recent few days are starting to revive the grass. What an astonishing plant this is! No wonder it took over the world.

I make my poor husband stand around for twenty minutes while I try to take a photo of the ivy bees feeding on (guess what?) the ivy. These bees are relatively new arrivals to the UK and are the last solitary bees to put in an appearance, dependent as they are on ivy flowers. Lots of other pollinators are attracted to it too, from bumblebees to this rather handsome hoverfly, but I didn’t manage to catch a shot of the ivy bees. There are some on the linked post above though if you want to have a look.

The poor horse chestnuts, with their leaves frazzled by leaf-miners and drought, are looking even worse than usual. Nice fat conkers though….

Frazzled horse chestnuts

Elsewhere, though, there is fruit in abundance. The dog roses and the hawthorn are laden down with hips and haws.

The ash trees are full of keys…

Right next to the North Circular Road there’s an apple tree full of fruit – I wonder if it’s from a seed dispersed by birds, or if someone twenty years ago ate an apple and tossed the core out of the car window?

Then there’s the pyracantha, which I assume was planted as a barrier shrub to shield the path from the passing traffic, and some cherry laurel…

Pyracantha (firethorn)

Cherry Laurel

And then there’s the acorns. Lordy, the acorns! I have never seen so many. There is a theory that trees produce more fruit when stressed, as if they suspect that they won’t survive and so are desperate to reproduce. I wonder if the abundance of fruit and nuts so early in the year means that the drought has changed the internal clock of these shrubs and trees  (and I’m not the only one). I regret more than ever not keeping a consistent nature notebook, to map the first occurrences of flowering and fruiting, the first appearance of the frogs and the fledging of the starlings and to see how things have changed even in my lifetime. At least the jays will be happy,

We trundle around the new circular path in what used to be the meadow, and which, judging by the standpipes so that people can water their flowers, will soon be new graves. I am strangely gratified by the way that the ‘weeds’ are already taking over the verges next to the paths, with this Redshank (Persicaria maculosa) popping up impudently through a crack in the tarmac. I love weeds, their persistence and their opportunism, and I suspect they will eventually outlive us all.

About eighteen months ago, someone cleared all of the horseradish (Armoracia rusticana) off of this grave. Alas, it, too, has fought back, and is even flowering.

And this grave is completely covered in the pretty leaves of pink sorrel (Oxalis articulata). It’s funny how this one is so full of the sorrel, and yet there are no other plants nearby. Maybe someone planted a few bulbs and off it went.

And so, some plants are thriving and others are suffering, and for some the jury is out. Cracks have appeared in the turf, but the green leaves of new growth, stimulated by the rainfall, are also there. It will be interesting to see what happens going forward. It was good to reacquaint myself with my local ‘patch’ after my wanderings further afield. After all that wandering, there really is no place like home.

4 thoughts on “A Bank Holiday Walk in St Pancras and Islington Cemetery

  1. Anne

    I too often wish I had kept a more detailed note of changes that have taken place over the past few decades – we had no idea such changes would take place though: here the Cape Chestnut is blooming when we normally expect the flowers during November and December!


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