A Cercis canadensis or eastern redbud tree in Haggerston. Photograph: Paul Wood

‘You get all sorts of unusual and rare trees hanging out on the streets’: a Cercis canadensis or eastern redbud, in Haggerston. Photograph: Paul Wood

One of the capital’s foremost experts on street trees and the ‘urban forest’ will be leading an arboreal tour through Hackney this weekend.

Starting from Haggerston train station, the appropriately-named Paul Wood will lead a group around the borough’s most exotic trees, taking in Stonebridge Gardens, Albion Square and De Beauvoir, this coming Sunday 15 October at 10:30am.

Wood, author of the recent London Street Trees guide that comes complete with a foreword from Mayor Sadiq Khan, told the Citizen how this area stirred from humble beginnings to become the leafy locale it is today:

A young Dawn Redwood at De Beauvoir Estate. Photograph: Paul Wood

A young Dawn Redwood at De Beauvoir Estate. Photograph: Paul Wood

“Hackney was underplanted in term of street trees compared to other London boroughs historically. About 20 years ago things started to change – the council got a very forward thinking tree officer… He managed to find various pots of money to plant trees in Hackney, and eventually he managed to devise the policy: ‘we want to have as many different kinds of trees as possible’.

“For several reasons: inbuilt resistance to things like climate change – some trees may not do so well in the future, but others might. Also in the face of pests and diseases – there’s a lot of diseases knocking around, we can think back to Dutch Elm Disease in the 1970s. If something like that happened to, for example, plane trees, the centre of London would be denuded of trees. So planting with a lot of variety mitigates against that.

“But also, and I don’t know if this was conscious or unconscious, having a diverse tree flora reflects the diverse population.”

Wood was recently filmed in Hackney for an appearance on ITV News, and has run a tour with The Ramblers from Hackney Central to Dalston. His affinity for the borough’s trunks and canopies was further spelled out when he named it first of Five of the Best London Boroughs for Street Trees on his popular blog, and spoke of “hibiscus in Shoreditch,” and “Scots Pines in Dalston”.

He also counts the boroughs peach, olive and almond trees among his favourites – pear and cherry are two more Hackney fruit trees that feature on the weekend’s walk.

Furthermore, walkers can expect to see and hear about the likes of the Wild Service Tree, Persian Ironwoods and the red-seeded, controversial Tree of Heaven.

“I would describe Hackney as an ‘urban arboretum’,” Wood said, “in that you get all sorts of unusual and rare trees hanging out on the streets, that you might not find elsewhere outside of Kew Gardens!”

Paul Wood

Paul Wood

No specialist prior knowledge is required for the tour – all are welcome. The walk has been organised by the Museum of Walking and is part of their new series of Stalking Trees ‘walkshops’.

Participants will be given field notebook and pencils to keep a journal of the trip, and Wood will be signing copies of his book that will be available to purchase.

Tickets are available from this Eventbrite page, priced £16.22.

Support us


The coronavirus outbreak has meant that the Hackney Citizen has been unable to print a monthly newspaper for the last three months.

The need for quality news and reliable reporting is crucial - however, this is an increasingly challenging time for local journalism.

Our main source of income, print advertising revenue, fell suddenly - and so we are asking you, the readers, for your help.A one-off donation from anyone who can afford it will help our small team get our newspaper back in print and keep the website and social media feeds running through this unprecedented crisis.

Find out how you can donate.

Thanks in advance for your support, and stay safe.