Little Ilford Park and Webster's Land

Webster's LandWebster's Land, looking south

This area is a bit of a surprise - tucked away behind the unpromising welcome to the London Borough of Newham if approaching from Ilford. Along the Romford Road here - after passing beneath the flyover and access roads to and from the North Circular Road above - there are some untidy business premises on the north side shielding the Alders Brook from the main road whilst on the south side a complex of high-rise blocks and 1960s housing do not do justice to what lies behind them. At the River Roding end of the old Church Road (which itself supports a 12th Century Church) lies a railing-surrounded recreation ground which is Little Ilford Park - at first sight an impressively large area of mown grassland bordered with a tarmacked path and apparently much used by joggers and exercise-walkers.

It was the trees by the border path that caught my eye, for immediately on entering the park I was confronted with a number of ornamental trees that were unfamiliar to me. One of the first that I identified was Oriental Hornbeam Carpinus orientalis and then Dombey's Southern Beech Notofagus dombeyi, next was a small Olive tree Olea europaea. London Plane has been commonly planted, and there are some fine specimens, and also noted were Rowan Sorbus aucuparia, a couple of Silver Pendant Limes Tilia petiolaris, Red Horse Chestnut Aesculus x carnea, a common Hornbeam Carpinus betula and a Paper-bark Birch Betula papyrifera.

Walking along the northern edge of the park, still adjacent to Church Road before it comes to an end, an area of rough land opens out with an introduction to "Websters Land" presented on a Newham Council information board, on which the images were designed by pupils from nearby schools. A nice selection of the plants, birds and animals that might be found on this meadow-land is shown, and the meadow-land itself was an inviting mix of flowers, shrubs and small trees - quite colourful even when I visited in early August at a time when a lack of rainfall had dried up many areas. Webster's land - apparently relating to Lt. Col. Webster who left some land for the enjoyment of the people of Manor Park - stretches northwards away from the recreation area, bordered on the west by the housing estate and on the east by a hedgerow that shields it from the North Circular Road. It doesn't quite reach the Romford Road at its northern extent because of industrial premises hereabouts.

Around the east and west boundaries of the land, acting as a shield from the A406 and the housing estate, are numerous trees and shrubs - again mostly the results of deliberate planting as is evident in such species as Spindle Euonymus europaeus and Wayfaring Tree Viburnum lantana. These are not known as native species in the area. There are too a variety of trees present including Scarlet Oak Quercus coccinea,  White Willow Salix alba and a large Poplar, possibly Hybrid Black-poplar. Grey Poplar Populus x cansescens - as usual - is regenerating freely. Amongst the obviously seeded flower species, a specimen of Broomrape - possibly Knapweed Broomrape - Orobanche sp. was a nice find. A list of the "wildlflowers" (many originally introduced, of course) is given below.

On the visit on 10 August, it was apparent that the area with its abundant flowers was a good environment for insect species. Hoverflies of a variety of species were seen on many of the flower-heads, whilst grasshoppers were common. Apart from "Cabbage" White butterflies, there were many Gatekeepers, some Meadow Browns, a few Common Blue and a Small Copper.

 

A list of plants in Webster's Land

Recorded in 2010

Stace - 2nd ed.SpeciesName
103
Papaver rhoeas
Common Poppy
117
Urtica dioica
Nettle
122
Quercus robur
English Oak
122 Quercus coccinea
Scarlet Oak
124
Betula pendula
Silver Birch
126
Alnus glutinosa
Alder
127
Corylus avellana
Hazel
186
Polygonum aviculare
Knotgrass
194
Rumex crispus
Curled Dock
195
Rumex obtusifolius
Broad-Leaved Dock
207
Hypericum perforatum
Perforate St. John's Wort
210
Tilia x europaea (vulgaris)
Common Lime
212
Malva sylvestris
Mallow
226
Populus tremula
Aspen
227
Populus sp.
(Hybrid Black?) Poplar
228
Populus x canescens
Grey Poplar
234
Salix alba
White Willow
234
Salix fragilis
Crack Willow
237
Salix caprea
Goat Willow
258
Armoracia rusticana
Horse Radish
272
Lepidium draba
Hoary Cress
279
Hirschfeldia incana
Hoary Mustard
281
Reseda luteola
Weld
335
Rubus sect. Glandulosus
Bramble
344
Potentilla reptans
Creeping Cinquefoil
346
Geum urbanum
Wood Avens
360
Rosa canina
Dog Rose
365
Prunus spinosa
Blackthorn
365
Prunus avium
Wild Cherry
370
Sorbus aucuparia
Rowan
397
Crataegus monogyna
Hawthorn
402
Galega officinalis
Goat's-rue
417
Melilotus officinalis
Ribbed Melilot
420
Medicago lupulina
Black Medick
427
Trifolium pratense
Red Clover
436
Ulex europaeus
Gorse
444
Epilobium hirsutum
Great Willow-herb
448
Chamerion angustifolium
Rosebay Willow-herb
453
Cornus sp.
Dogwood
455
Euonymus europaeus
468
Aesculus hippocastanum
Horse Chestnut
470
Acer pseudoplatanus
Sycamore
470
Acer campestre
Field Maple
506
Foeniculum vulgare
Fennel
518
Daucus carota
Carrot
531
Solanum dulcamara
Bittersweet
534
Convolvuls arvensis
Field Bindweed
535
Calystegia silvatica
Great Bindweed
559 Ballota nigra Black Horehound
560
Lamium album
White Dead-nettle
583 Plantago major Great Plantain
584
Plantago lanceolata
Ribwort Plantain
585 Buddleja davidii Buddleia
586
Fraxinus excelsior
Ash
624
Rhinanthus minor
627
Orobanche sp.
649
Galium aparine
Cleavers
651
Sambucus nigra
cultivar 'laciniata'
Elder
652
Viburnum lantana
652
Symphoricarpos albus
Snowberry
661
Dipsacus fullonum
Teasel
662
Knautia arvensis
Field Scabious
674
Arctium minus
Lesser Burdock
676
Cirsium vulgare
Spear Thistle
678
Cirsium arvense
Creeping Thistle
681
Centaurea cyanus
Cornflower
683
Centaurea nigra
Black Knapweed
686 Lapsana communis Nipplewort
686
Hypochaeris radicata
Common Cat's-ear
688 Picris echioides Bristly Ox-tongue
690 Sonchus oleraceus Smooth Sow-thistle
690
Lactuca serriola
Prickly Lettuce
698
Taraxacum sect. Ruderalia
Dandelion
705
Hieracium umbellatum
Leafy Hawkweed
728
Bellis perennis
Daisy
729
Artemisia vulgare
Mugwort
732
Achillea millefolium
Yarrow
736
Tripleurospermum inodorum
Scentless Mayweed
740
Senecio squalidus
Oxford Ragwort
740
Senecio vulgaris
Groundsel
790
Juncus inflexus
Hard Rush
844
Festuca gigantea
Giant Fescue
845
Festuca rubra
Red Fescue
852
Lolium perenne
Perennial Rye-Grass
854
Cynosurus cristatus
Crested Dog's-tail
858
Poa annua
Annual Meadow-grass
859
Dactylis glomerat
Cock's-foot
859
Arrhenatherum elatius
Tall or False Oat-grass
868
Holcus lanatus
Yorkshire Fog
872
Phalaris arundinacea
Reed Canary-grass
883
Phleum bertolonii
Smaller Cat's-tail
890
Bromus hordeaceus
Soft Brome
892
Elytrigia repens
Common Couch
895
Hordeum murinum
Wall Barley

 

TABLE 2. Ornamental Trees in Little Ilford Park

Ornamental Trees in Little Ilford Park
111 Platanus x hybrida London Plane
120 Notofagus dombeyi Dombey's Southern Beech
(124) Betula papyrifera Paper-bark Birch
127 Carpinus betulus Hornbeam
(127) Carpinus orientalis Oriental Hornbeam
210 Tilia petiolaris Silver Pendant Lime
370 Sorbus aucuparia Rowan
(568) Aesculus x carnea Red Horse Chestnut
(585) Olea europaea Olive

 

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