In the early 1660's, Charles II commissioned Le Notre (gardener to Louis XIV) to design the formal French-style layout of Greenwich Park, much of which remains today with its impressive avenues of sweet (Spanish) chestnut. Many of these trees remain as 'veterans' more than 400 years old.
Ancient trees, such as the sweet chestnuts and the many other mature and veteran tree species to be found in the park, are of tremendous value to wildlife. Swamp Cypress (Taxodium distichum) tree roots can be found in Greenwich Park. Cypress trees growing in swampy areas tend to have a peculiar growth called ‘cypress knees’ – these are woody projections sent above the normal water level, roughly vertically from the roots.
The complex structure of the park's trees includes cavities, splits, rot holes and bark flaps - all of which provide valuable habitats for fungi, many kinds of specialised insects and other invertebrates, as well as vital roosting sites for bats and nesting sites for birds.
Did you know about Queen Elizabeth's Oak ? This huge Oak tree in Greenwich Park dates back to the 12th century and although it died sometime in the 19th century, only fell in 1991. Legend has it that King Henry VIII danced around this tree with Anne Boleyn, and it's also where their daughter, Queen Elizabeth I, often picnicked.