At first sight, Abney Park is a unique arboretum in the urban heartland of Stoke Newington. Venturing a little way along the main promenade however it becomes evident that it is instead a tended but tumbledown, Victorian Gothic, Garden of Rest. The trees that were planted have multiplied, died and been born again, seeding themselves amongst the graves and being joined by opportunists, including Silver Birch, Rowan, Wild Cherry, and Blackthorn.
Some, like this enchanting Koelreuteria paniculata, were put here by design. The Golden Rain or Pride of India tree still had its bladder seed pods which I took to try to grow for myself – we shall see.
Along the main thoroughfares, and paths sidling into undergrowth, trees and tombs stand aside in unison, allowing free passage for visitors. Walking through here feels rather like being a VIP at a military parade.
Above the urns, angels, severed columns and ornate, funereal paraphernalia, branches of the young and old reach heavenward. Saplings are no respecter of boundaries and roam chaotically over the graves. They are overseen by the more orderly centenarians, including a line of hybrid Black Poplars, pollarded for life extension.Shooting in monochrome captures the shady mood of Abney Park but in this season it is vivacious with birdsong, insect and the bursting of leaf bud. Such a resurrection, even though it precedes Easter by a month, merits a dash of colour. After all, today is the Spring equinox!
Woodland memorial park and Local Nature Reserve: Abney Park