Green Clerkenwell Walking Map

Since it’s been a while I made a proper walking map I felt it was about a time to get back into map making! I chose Clerkenwell as it used to be inside my lunch radius and I spent many happy hours exploring the area over my lunch breaks. Some of the breaks got longer than intended, but I like to think I made it up by staying late.. on most days. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I am starting the map with a research on internet and making a rough area sketch with some landmarks on my sketch pad. This is a nice task and I’m really enjoying it, spending most of my morning doing this. The area hasn’t changed a lot, but I want to make sure I’m including everything important and my map is up to date.

It’s Saturday so I’m going for a little walk after lunch to a book festival near local park. It’s quite nice and I’m inspired to tackle my next task after I return. I open the Google Maps and roughly sketch out the walking path. It doesn’t have to be accurate at this point as I can always adjust it later.

I continue on Monday. My research done I now need to digitalise the map. After a late start (I’m out of coffee so I need to refuel!) I spend the noon tracing in the base map. I work from Google Maps screenshot and first trace in the green spaces and main streets, then smaller streets. I’m also deciding the colours for the map.

I continue filling in my map on afternoon and it’s going well for couple of hours. I add the walking path and some street names on my base map. I also start adding the landmarks, working on Google maps simultaneously. I decide to expand my path further north and need to work out the extension. At this point I’m also adding the title and it really starts to look like a proper map!

I take a coffee break at four and keep working, adding some icons. At around 8 I compare the map with the earlier version and don’t think it’s going on right direction.. It feels too heavy, so I’m reverting back to 4 o’clock version. I want to keep the map light and airy and to save the day I’m adding lines under landmarks instead. At this point I also decide to add a legend and make the title more prominent. I’m finishing around midnight. ๐ŸŒ™

Next morning I am finalising the map. I’m deciding to add more street names as my map should be actually walkable, not only an illustration. I’m also adjusting the trail and making little fixes here and there.. Finally I’m adding some texture to ‘age’ the map and it’s done! And here’s the final version of the Green Clerkenwell Walking Map.

Street trees type map UPDATE

After posting the first version of Street trees type map I had comments some of the boroughs are missing from the map and suggestions to fill them in. The first map was based on the open data from London tree map project from 2014-2015 and for various reasons the data from some boroughs are yet to be filled.

So following a tip on Twitter I approached the tree officers from The London Tree Officers Association in seven boroughs to fill the information gaps on the map. I got very quick and informative responses from most of the boroughs. The remaining I filled based on the information in the reports from the borough websites.

I had some very interesting feedback from the tree officers, overall positive. For example Rupert from Hackney thought the idea is interesting, but also suggested look at the trees based on variety and diversity. Steve Pocock and Paul Wood have developed a very good website TreeTalk, where they feature a Tree Map based on diversity and rarity.

I also received some very useful design feedback! For example Richard from Croydon noted the borough borders are not very visible so I worked the map more to give some more space around the lines. His other great suggestion was to add borough names, which I saved for the future version.

As I noted cherry has become very popular street tree in London I was curious why. Elizabeth from Wandsworth explained in her borough it’s planted because of the beautiful blossom and the small size – it can fit on most streets and even whole streets are now planted with cherries.

Working with the data on the map was interesting, but I really enjoyed this part of the project! The tree officers know best what they do and the data reflects only the fraction of the diversity of their work. And here’s the final map filled with data and personal approach.

Graphic of iconic logo species

I got a little frustrated last time doing research for my species timeline infographic because when I googled ‘apples in London’ I got well.. ‘Apples in London’! Some of the brands just have taken over nature it represents. So this gave me the idea to make a graphic about animal and plant species that have made it to icons and write down some of my thoughts about it. ๐Ÿค”

It’s quite common to choose an element of nature in a brand. It’s often considered a fresh and effective way to communicate the brand message, even if the company itself has nothing to do with nature.. But should it be like this? Here are some of the examples of companies and organisations using nature in their branding.

Apple. There’s a lot of symbolism related to apples and no wonder it has become one of the most known species ever envisioned over history of company branding. Apple has build a whole industry around apple, although their logo is probably only connection to nature..

Shell. The origin of the Shell is related to company’s seashell business more than century ago. Although a controversial business idea, it was very popular with Victorians and the name remained, when company evolved to one of the a largest oil companies. Still controversial.

Twitter. Twitter Bird is inspired by mountain bluebird living in western North-America. It’s a lovely icon and perfect for a company who has built its success on ‘tweets’, but sometimes it’s just better to switch off and go listen the birds in nature instead!

Penguin. Penguin is a book publisher but penguin icon is a classic, loved by many readers around the world. Unlike apple, googling penguin results a modest company ad not overshadowing the real birds company identity was inspired. This is the way to go!

World Wildlife Fund. Probably the best logo use of nature, where all the elements have perfectly come together. The core idea of the logo is to represent the conservation of endangered species and giant panda is a perfect choice to communicate the message across cultures. Love it!

Air Canada. The maple leaf is a symbol of Canada, representing it’s 10 species of maples and it’s obvious why the company has also adopted it for its planes. But, especially in current climate the air transport and nature just do not connect..

Abercombie & Fitch. Seems the existence of the moose brand has no other reason than to be an alternative to Ralph Lauren’s polo pony. However few years ago the company decided to ditch the logos for American market. Maybe others will follow.

Timberland. Timberland brand is for outdoorsy people, therefore the tree seems to suite rather well. However Timberland means land covered with forest suitable or managed for timber.. so in the light of new environmentalism perhaps not the best use of land.

Jaguar. Jaguars represent speed and durance and are beautiful creatures, perfect icon for a luxury car brand. However, it’s another identity that has pushed nature back on internet with the aim to sell more cars we probably don’t need in the world right now.

Tripadvisor. The goggling owl on the Tripadvisor logo is quite suited for the night owls browsing through the hotel and restaurant reviews. The stylised owl is quite known these days and proudly displayed everywhere to attract unsuspecting pray.

Rainforest Alliance. Another great nature logo use for environmental NGO. The frogs are symbols of healthy natural environment and found nearly everywhere on the planet. Promoting sustainability Rainforest Alliance frog jumps out from all responsible products.

Playboy. Well….

The logos in this artwork are redrawn and for illustrative purposes only

Timeline of new species in London

Londoners have always been innovative with introducing new species and some of the trees and wildlife now taken granted in London are actually, on the timeline of natural history, quite new. Some introduced species become naturalised and we tend to forget they actually have foreign origins. And then there are new ‘invasive’ species who also have found home in London.

The timeline does not include all non-native species (very far from it!), but a tiny selection to illustrate when different species have arrived and became part of the city. Personally I think they enrich London and make it more interesting and vibrant place, but everyone are welcome to their own opinion. ๐Ÿ˜Š

Non-native species now settled in London

  1. Apple
    Now naturalised fruit tree in UK is actually from Asia and was first cultivated in Britain by Romans. It’s likely apple has been grown in London since its foundation, nearly 2000 years ago!
  2. Fallow Deer
    Fallow Deer are also introduced to Europe from Asia and were first brought to UK around 11 century by Normans. It’s now become a common deer in UK and London parks alongside the red deer.
  3. Rabbit
    Yes, rabbit also travelled to Britain from mainland Europe with Normans. Now widespread in UK and London parks, the rabbit hasn’t been around for longer than 800 years!
  4. Sycamore
    Now naturalised tree from mainland Europe was introduced around middle ages, more than 500 years ago and is now a common tree of London’s urban forest.
  5. Horse Chestnut
    Horse Chestnut is actually from Turkey and was brought to UK on late 16th century. It’s another loved non-native tree that has found a home on London streets and in parks.
  6. London Plane
    One of the most common street trees in London was introduced from Spain in 17th century, but this hardy urbanised tree is actually a hybrid of oriental and American plane.
  7. Great White Pelican
    The pelican has been around in St James’s Park since 1664 when first birds were gifted to London by ambassador from Russia. 40 pelicans have since lived in the park (corrected).
  8. Weeping Willow
    This willow is native in Northern China and was first seen in London in 1700s. It’s often found near ponds, rivers and canals thanks to its dramatic drooping branches.
  9. Canada Goose
    A native in North-America this large goose has been around for around 300 years, spread widely on 20th century and is now the most common goose around London park lakes.
  10. Egyptian Goose
    This African native has been an ornamental bird since 18th century, but made an escape and has now made a permanent home of London parks mainly because of the milder winters.
  11. Grey Squirrel
    The most known London species of non-natives has been running wild in London since 1870s. Originally a guest from North-America the Grey Squirrel has taken over London and most of the country.
  12. Little Owl
    Brought over from Europe in late 1880s little owl is now quite common in England and Wales and can be spotted hunting in leafier parts of London urban forrest.
  13. Mandarin Duck
    This colourful bird from Far East was also part of the ornamental waterfowl before breaking into freedom in 20th century and now living freely on London park lakes.
  14. Ring-Necked Parakeet
    The only resident parrot in UK is originally from Africa and Asia. First spotted in London nearly half a century ago it settled permanently in over last few decades.

And here’s the visual timeline.. Enjoy!

Sources that helped me to make this infographic

London Street Trees type map

This typographic map shows the street trees in greater London. As Google didn’t give lot of information about the main tree species in all 32 (+city) boroughs I had to dig a little deeper and luckily found an incredible 700 000 list of street trees in London Tree Map website. None of my own tools was able to open the giant file, so I downloaded Tableau Public to check out, if there is a way to analyse this tree data. ๐ŸŒณ

I haven’t used Tableau before and turned out it was easier that I expected. It loaded amazingly quickly (considering the size of the file) and felt really intuitive to use. After setting couple of parameters I ended up with a funky table showing me the number of trees by species in boroughs. It even highlighted the values by colour which made it easier to follow. Magic! ๐Ÿ’ซ

My next step was to sketch out the map based on data. Unfortunately the information for 7 boroughs are missing from the list, but I was still able to fill out most of the map. As the information is 4-5 years old, there might be some new developments, which I might be able to fill in later. Hoping to get some valuable information from experts on Twitter. ๐Ÿคž

The pre-work done I found an open vector base map of greater London, which I modified slightly, and started to fill in the map digitally. This was straightforward but time consuming task and took me most of the second day to fill out the whole map. I decided to go with primary green colour to keep it clean and fresh. ๐Ÿƒ

After letting the map settle for a night I returned to it in the morning with fresh eyes to make some final fixes and adjustments. ๐Ÿ‘€

And here it is – the type map of London Street Trees by each borough.

Greenground Map in Forbes article of London National Park City

Forbes article of What Is London’s National City Park Status And Which Other Cities Will Follow? is a story of London’s journey of becoming a National Park City and the people and ideas behind it. I was very happy to see it also features the Greenground map alongside the Urban Good‘s official National Park City map.

The author, Alex Ledsom, covers the Greenground Map’s concept later in the article.

A key part of the campaign has been to restyle London as a green city in the maps its residents and tourists use every day. The Greenground Map by Helen Ilus follows the layout of the iconic London tube map but it links green spaces instead of transport hubs. It is hoped it will encourage sustainable and healthy commutes around London by linking its green spaces, paths and cycle routes. The map also includes kayaking routes and birdwatching spots. 


I love Alex’s quote of restyling London as a green city through maps. This shows sometimes we do not need a lot to make a change – we just need new eyes to see things differently!

The Greenground Map on National Park City website

Last week saw London becoming National Park City with various events taking place around London, including opening ceremony in London City Hall as well as the launch of National Park City ‘Maker’, 64 pages paper the guys at National Park City have worked very hard for last months. The Greenground map gets a mention on the online post as supplement idea to enjoy!

Furthermore the Greenground Map is now displayed on National Park City website alongside with the amazing Urban Good’s National Park City Map and Kabir Kaul’s Nature Reserves of London. The post includes short description of the project and some ideas for further development. I especially like the ‘Explore’ button on homepage.. this is what this experimental map is all about ๐Ÿ™‚

Read about Greenground map on London National Park City website