In the week that Donald Trump pulled the world’s largest economy out of the world’s largest ever effort to tackle humanity’s largest-ever threat to its continued existence – arguing, in possibly the most idiotic sentence ever uttered by a sitting US president, that it’s “time to put Youngstown, Ohio; Detroit, Michigan; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania” ahead of “Paris, France” – it’s time to think green.
(Long sentence, huh? Just be glad I didn’t throw in the fact that all those places voted for Hillary last year. As, indeed, the whole country did.)
Anyway. Let’s all take a moment to take stock of our beautiful environment, while we still have one. And what better way to do that than by looking around London – one of the greenest cities on the planet, with acres and acres of parks, gardens, garden squares, and open spaces – and appreciating England’s green and pleasant land?
And if, as most Londoners do, you live in what most writers obsessively call a “leafy suburb”, you may notice there are quite a few trees about.
But certain questions become over-elm-ingly and plane-ly unavoidable. What trees are they? And how many are there? And do I really live in a leafy suburb, or are there more trees elsewhere?
The ever helpful Greater London Authority – working in partnership with the individual boroughs and TfL – produces a beautiful map, imaginatively called the London Tree Map.
And it does what it says on the tin. Data collected from TfL and as many boroughs as possible – six boroughs wouldn’t give any data, and one gave data that was so complicated nobody could be bothered to format it properly –and put into one delicious interactive map. They’re colour coded, with differently shaped symbols for each tree.
And it’s great fun. You can see all sorts. For example, Covent Garden has a lot of plane trees.
Click all images to expand. Images: Google Maps and Greater London Authority.
Marylebone is home to a whole army of pear trees.
Holland Park has a nice mix of cherry and lime trees.
Westbourne Park is a total mess of species. Diversity central.
Belsize Park is what you would call leafy.
There aren’t that many trees near the Tower of London.
Dulwich also fits into the leafy category pretty tidily.
Canary Wharf isn’t even trying.
Plaistow is about to burst with plane trees.
You can also very obviously see which boroughs were unhelpful with data.
Like Brent. The A5 very clearly forms the divide between Kilburn, in Camden – which did provide data – and Willesden Green, in Brent – which didn't.
And the map also has the flaw of relying on borough data, which means that when it comes to a big park that isn’t council-managed, it’s stumped.
Like Kew Gardens. Kew Gardens definitely has more trees than this.
You can also filter by individual tree species, which is neat.
So you can see that Central London doesn’t have an awful lot of willow trees.
But there are quite a few apple trees in Highgate.
And if the kids are after conkers, Hampstead’s not a bad bet for chestnut trees.
So go on. Close that Netflix window. You can binge-watch House of Cards after the apocalypse.
But trees? They’re positively passé. So get browsing.
The full interactive experience is available here.