Navigate Up
Sign In

Ta' Qali National Park – Formal Garden

Formal Garden Entrance 


Ta' Qali National Park stands where once was a Royal Air Force airfield and barracks between 1943 and 1950. With the development of the Luqa airfield facilities, Ta’ Qali lost its importance.


Inside the Formal Garden 


Nowadays, following the introduction of a relatively vast recreational area, several people visit the Ta’ Qali National Park for recreation and for enjoying some fresh air with family and friends. The Park offers a relaxing environment and a good break from the hassle and the urban, hectic lifestyle. Ta' Qali National Park is maintained by Ambjent Malta within the Ministry for the Environment, Sustainable Development and Climate Change.


Ornamental plants 


Maintenance of the park includes regular lawn mowing, pruning of trees, irrigation of young trees and selective pest control.
 
 
Walkway with ornamental plants and trees 


However, the Ta' Qali National Park has more to offer than just picnic areas and walkways. The park boasts a wide variety of ornamental plants and trees, of both indigenous and non indigenous origin, as well as fauna species which, with some attention and observation, can be easily discovered and appreciated.


Inside the Formal Garden 


Upon entering the Formal Garden, paths under trellis covered with Plumbago auriculata bloom in white and blue, surrounded with planters of the spiny Carissa macrocarpa. The paths lead to the main entrance where a circle of planters with annual flowering plants surround a central fountain. Depending on the season, annuals include Pansies (Viola species), Geraniums (Pelargoniums), Limoniums, Anthirriniums, Celosias, Amaranthus, Gomphrenas, Marigolds (Tagetes) and Stocks (Matthiola incana).


Central fountain 


The gate leads to the Formal Garden where a large variety of indigenous and non indigenous ornamental tree species are to be found. Small tracts of Mediterranean woodland have also been created by mixing indigenous tree species. Pine groves such as the Syracusa Grove and the SGS Grove within the park offer a good deal of shade especially during the summer. 


Pine Grove 


A good view of the Park and surrounding areas, with views up to Mdina and opposite to Naxxar, can be appreciated upon climbing the stairs to the top of the main gate. Opposite the main entrance is a large area known as the ‘Kite area’ where we find wide open spaces inter-planted with indigenous Sandarac gum trees Tetraclinis articuluta, Carobs Ceratonia siliqua and olives Olea europea, as part of the 34U campaign.


Walkway and stairs to the top of the main gate 


The formal garden within the Park is planted with a large variety of indigenous and non indigenous tree species. Conifers within the park include Aleppo Pine (Pinus halepensis), Stone Pine (Pinus pinea), Sandarac gum tree (Tetraclinis articulata), Mediterranean cypress (Cupressus sempervivens), Norfolk Island Pine Araucaria heterophylla (Maltese: Awrikarja) and Smooth Cypress (Cupressus glabra). 


Sandarac Gum Tree 
Sandarac gum tree - Tetraclinis articulata


Mediterranean Cypress 
Mediterranean cypress - Cupressus sempervivens


Mediterranean trees within the park include Bay Laurel Laurus nobilis (Maltrese:Randa), Holm Oak Quercus ilex (Maltese: Ballut), Strawberry Tree Arbutus unedo (Maltese: Imbragla), Olive Tree Olea europea (Maltese: Zebbuga), Chaste Tree Vitex agnus castus (Maltese: Sigra tal-virgi), African Tamarisk Tamarisk africana (Maltese: Bruka), Viburnum Viburnum tinus, Common Jujube Ziziphus jujube (Maltese:Zinzel), Southern nettle tree Celtis australis (Maltese: Buglar), Judas Tree Cercis siliquastrum (Maltese: Sigra ta’Guda), European Dwarf Palm Chamaerops humilis (Maltese: Sigra tal-Gummar) and the Spanish Broom Spartium junceum (Maltese: Gennista Safra).


Judas Tree 
Judas Tree - Cercis siliquastrum - photo credit: Marthese Cassar


Non indigenous ornamental trees within the park include: Lagunaria patersonii; Erythrina variegata; Ficus elastica, Schinus molle, Jacaranda mimosifolia, Tecoma capensis, Justicia spicigera, Dodonea viscose, Firmiana simple, Parkinsonia aculeate, Washingtonia filifera, Washingtonia robusta, Malvaviscus arboreus, Cycas revolute and Ceiba speciosa.


Ornamental plants and trees 


Fauna: 

The variety of trees planted in the park since the early 1990s are now well established, creating habitats which attract a number of faunal species, the most evident being the birds. One can find several species of birds depending on the season. Resident birds found throughout the year in the park include the Sardinian warbler Sylvia melanocephala(Maltese: Bufula Sewda), Spanish Sparrow Passer hispaniolensis (Maltese: Ghammiel tal-Bejt), Zitting cisticola Cisticola juncidis (Maltese: Bufula tal-Imrewha), and the Collared Dove Streptolia decaocto (Maltese: Gamiema tal-Kullar). During summer the Spotted flycatcher Muscicapa striata (Maltese: Zanzarell tat-Tikki) breeds within the park, while the Short toed lark Calandrella brachydactyla (Maltese : Bilbla) breeds in the open fields surrounding the park. 


Collared Dove 
Collared Dove - Streptolia decaocto - photo credit: Eman Portelli


Winter brings several wintering bird species to the park. Robins Erithacus rubecula (Maltese: Pitirross), Stonechats Saxicola rubicola (Maltese: Bucaqq tax-Xitwa), White wagtails Motacilla alba (Maltese: Zakak Abjad) and Common Starlings Sturnus vulgaris (Maltese: Sturnell) can all be easily observed foraging for insects in open areas within the park. Goldcrests Regulus regulus (Maltese: Bufula tal-Qamar) and Firecrests Regulus ignicapilla (Maltese: Bufula tat-toppu ahmar) are both common in coniferous groves during the winter, as are the Blackcaps Sylvia atricapilla (Maltese: Kapiner) which are in full song in the early months of the year.


Firecrest 
Firecrest - Regulus ignicapilla - photo credit: Eman Portelli 


White Wagtail 
White wagtail - Motacilla alba - photo credit: Eman Portelli 


During spring and autumn, migration brings a number of bird species which can be observed within the park grounds including the Hoopoe Upupa epops (Daqquqa tat-toppu) which is frequently seen feeding on the ground and Woodchat shrikes Lanius senator (Maltese: Kaċċamendula) are quite evident perching on lookout posts for insects in spring. Flocks of Night Heron Nicticorax nicticorax (Maltese: Kwakka) are frequently seen early in the morning descending to roost in the pine groves within the park during spring and autumn migration.
 
Indigenous reptile species in the park include both gecko species (Maltese: Wiżgħa), the Western whip snake Coluber viridiflavus (Maltese: Serp iswed), Maltese wall lizard Podarcis filfolensis melitensis (Maltese: Gremxula ta’ Malta) and the Mediterranean Chameleon Chamaeleo chamaeleon (Maltese: Kamaleonte). These can often be seen ‘sun bathing’ in a warm spot on the ground or in the trees ready to snatch passing insects. The park also has a few mammal species including the Etruscan shrew Suncus etruscus (Maltese: Ġurdien ta’ geddumu twil), the Algerian hedgehog Atelerix algirus (Maltese: Qanfud) and the Weasel Mustela nivalis (Maltese: Ballotra).


Maltese wall lizard 
Maltese wall lizard - Podarcis filfolensis melitensis - Photo credit: Eman Portelli


Butterflies are amongst the most attractive insects in the park. Red Admirals Vanessa atalanta (Maltese: Farfett tal-Ħurrieq) can be observed in autumn and winter while Painted Ladies Cynthia cardui (Maltese: Farfett tax-Xewk) are abundant in spring, summer and autumn. The elegant Swallowtail butterfly Papillo machaon melitensis (Farfett tal-Bużbież) is also sometimes seen. Lanatana camara bushes attract many butterflies, bumble bees and other insects when these are in bloom. The Lobed Agriope Argiope lobata (Maltese: Brimba tal-Widien), the largest spider in the Maltese Islands is also sometimes seen in the centre of its large web which it suspends between two bushes.


Butterfly on flower 
Painted Lady butterfly - Cynthia cardui 


Visiting Ta’ Qali National Park and the Formal Garden is always a rewarding experience, however in order to maintain the beauty and nature of this place everybody must act in a responsible manner. Trees should be respected and cared for by all people, young and old, and should never be harmed at all costs. Making hammocks or tree climbing are unacceptable vandalism acts. Naked flames and Barbeques are prohibited within the park. Animals should never be handled or harassed. Litter should always be deposited in appropriate waste bins. In abiding with these few rules the park can be enjoyed by everybody now and in the future. 


Walkways with flowers and trees