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Environment

London’s hidden wonder: An ode to the capital’s trees

An amazing variety of natural organisms can be found on our doorstep, says lifelong dendrophile (that’s a fan of trees!) Des McKenzie

I first became interested in London’s trees as a birdwatching teenager. I would regularly spend hours scouring local parks or looking at street-trees and endeavoured to learn all the native species I could find, not always successfully.

I initially found tree identification hard going due to the fact there were so many other trees I’d come across which didn’t feature in my little book of native species. London appeared to be something of an arboretum, full of exotic as well as native species. Where to start!

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I bought every tree book I could lay my hands on and studied hard. These were books that contained trees from all over the world, many of which I’d later find growing in the capital. And so my arboreal education had begun.

Since then I’ve travelled extensively, looking at trees in foreign climes as well as here at home, all the while building up my knowledge of these fascinating entities.

Latterly, I’ve tried to popularise the wealth of tree species found in London with the #TreesOfLondon hashtag on Twitter and with my Trees of London Instagram account where I’ve amassed thousands of photos of the trees of the big smoke. Feel free to take a look!

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Trees are not only beautiful but essential for our wellbeing, they form the largest living organisms many people will ever see. Considered too crammed with variables to easily identify, some can be tricky but most are straightforward once you know what family you’re looking at.

London is home to a vast array of species plus their cultivars and hybrids, and there’s enough sylvan interest to keep any tree enthusiast busy for decades.

It’s spring as I write this, many trees are now flowering or coming into leaf and it’s a great time to be out and about. Next time you step outdoors be sure to stop and look, you never know what you’ll discover.

Follow Des on Twitter @McKenzie6593 or Instagram @desmckenzie65 #TreesOfLondon

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