There are 97 trees in Jubilee Gardens, spread mostly around the outside of the space to create a sense of enclosure and frame important views while leaving plenty of open sunny spots for visitors to enjoy. The design pays tribute to England’s rich arboricultural history – in line with tradition ‘old fashioned’ and much-loved native tree species were reintroduced alongside ornamental exotics.
The first tree of the redesigned Jubilee Gardens, a Liquidambar styraciflua (or Sweetgum), was lowered into position by a small crane on 7th February 2012. A mixture of semi-mature and young trees were planted to give immediate visual impact while also allowing the Gardens to mature and develop slowly over time.
There are seven different tree species in Jubilee Gardens which were chosen to optimise biodiversity and ensure that the park provides interest all year round.
The Common Beech (Fagus sylvatica), a native tree, was selected for its contribution to biodiversity as it is a host for a variety of flora and fauna. In early spring long slender buds create a spectacular light-green hue, while the flowers are small catkins which develop small triangular beechnuts – an important food for birds, squirrels and historically also for people. The ornamental deciduous tree lives on average 150-200 years. Most of the Beech trees in Jubilee Gardens are found on the north and northeast of the park, in the areas closest to Hungerford car park.
The strangely named Bald Cypress (Taxodium districhum) is a striking species of conifer, native to south-eastern North America. It was introduced to Britain in 1640 by the famous plant hunter John Tradescant the Younger, can reach 35m tall and commonly lives over 200 years. The species was selected for its soft light, feathery foliage and orange-brown autumn colour as well as its columnar shape which distinctly contrasts with the other broadleaved spreading canopy trees in the Gardens. The Bald Cypresses are found on the south and south-east side of the park, particularly around the playground.
There are four Large Leaf Linden trees (Tilia platyphyllos), three of which are spread out along the south of the Gardens and one in the centre of the park. This beautiful native deciduous tree has a distinctive narrow domed shape and small, fragrant yellowish-white flowers in drooping clusters. The fruit is a small, round, cream-coloured nutlet while in autumn the foliage turns a striking yellow-green to yellow colour. Traditionally Tilia platyphyllos was used for various medicinal purposes including as an antispasmodic, a sedative and a treatment for migraines.
The Pin Oak (Quercus palustris) was originally from eastern North America – it had arrived in Europe by 1770 but was not recorded in Britain until after 1800. The Pin Oak was selected for several of its physical features: It has sharply pointed lobed leaves which turn reddish-brown to bright crimson in autumn, and distinct horizontal branching which provide winter interest even once all the leaves have fallen. Our Pin Oaks are mostly found in the northwestern quadrant of the gardens near the Queen’s Walk and fairground.
Jubilee Gardens is home to 18 quintessential English Oaks (Quercus robur) spread throughout the park. A much-loved large and long-lived, native deciduous tree with lobed and very short-stalked leaves, rugged branches and dark tough bark, modest flowers in mid-spring and acorns in the autumn. The English Oak is valued for its importance to insects and other wildlife and it naturally supports the highest biodiversity of insect herbivores of any British plant. The acorns form a valuable food resource for several small mammals, including our resident friendly squirrels, and some birds.
Liquidambar styraciflua, also known as Sweetgum, is a deciduous tree native to eastern North America. It was introduced into Europe in 1681 by John Banister, and first planted in the palace gardens at Fulham. The leaves are palmate, similar to those of some maples with five sharply pointed lobes, and are a glossy rich dark green colour. The leaves turn brilliant orange, red, and purple in the autumn in a conflagration of colour which unique and striking. Our Liquidambars are clustered on the middle of the north edge of the park and towards the river side of the southern edge. There are also two large specimens taking pride of place at the northern tip of the adventure playground.
Last, but not least, Jubilee Gardens has five London Plane trees (Platanus x acerifolia) which were retained from the old park when it was redeveloped in 2012. The site is surrounded by London Planes – the Queen’s Walk along the riverfront is lined with them while there are also multiple specimens on Belvedere Road and in Hungerford car park. These are popular city trees with more than half of London’s trees being London Planes. They can be identified by their grey bark which sheds leaving large patches of pale green and creamy yellow fresh wood – it does this as a response to pollution which can clog the pores of the bark. Flowers appear as small balls on long stems in spring, maturing to produce the ‘pom-pom’ seed heads which can be seen on the bare branches in winter.
We hope you enjoy the beauty of the different tree species in Jubilee Gardens this #NationalTreeWeek View images of the Gardens and some of our tree species here.