Autumn’s melody, played at its own tempo

I took this photo of a sycamore colouring up into rainbow hues a little over two weeks ago. I was impressed because we’ve not had frosts and I have it in my head that we get better autumn reds and purples once that has happened and the chlorophyll is killed off.

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But this autumn seems to be shaping up to a glorious display without the need for a cold spell. This next picture for instance is just a bit of set-aside along the field at the back of our house. With the sun shining on it looks wonderful and is one of the best displays around.

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Possibly the long dryness and settled weather are playing to our advantage and the leaves, once turned, are hanging on a bit longer than usual. Whatever the reason, by Friday, when I visited my parents in Kent, the roadside display was fantastic. I drove my parents around the countryside for a bit just so they could enjoy the show. The red tones of the cherry trees and dogwood seem to be particularly outstanding this year.

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A beautiful patch of dogwood along the motorway

So it was with high expectations that I finally persuaded Steve to go for a walk in Hatfield Forest today. I really love woods, I love the muffled quiet and filtered light, but I can see that the attraction of ‘just trees’ is not for everyone. However, we had a lovely time and, importantly, it was sunny.  All the better to see the mellow colours! However, we were disappointed on that front. Hatfield Forest is still green.

I should have done more research before setting off! The predominant species there are oak, ash, hornbeam, hazel. None of which are showing autumn colours yet and even when they do, they will be russets, yellows and browns. Not quite how I promoted it.

We grabbed lunch from the outside cafe and then went for a pleasant amble around the central lake and adjoining forest. The National Trust (who own and manage Hatfield Forest) noticeably practise coppicing throughout the forest and I found it interesting to see how they’ve surrounded each of the coppiced trees with woven scrub and branches to keep deer off.

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Deer protection for the delicate young re-growth on the hazel

They look like giant nests, but they seem to be working well. Effort well spent.

In fact, we had luckily had our autumn colour fix the day before at Cambridge Botanics. There the birch grove is already a pretty golden yellow and the dawn redwood has gone a rusty orange.

The star of the show is always the lake-side liquidambar (Liquidambar styraciflua ‘Worplesdon’). It is burning a bright red, glowing, with or without the sun shining on it.

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But with a bit of sunshine you get double the effect from the reflections.

Here is a shot where the waterlily strewn lake is just about catching fire! Very Monetesque.

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Liquidambar in its autumn glory reflected in the lake at Cambridge Botanics

Hope that you are enjoying some great autumn colours too.

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About Frogend_dweller

Living in the damp middle of nowhere
This entry was posted in autumn, Nature, Trees, Walks and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Autumn’s melody, played at its own tempo

  1. Tina says:

    Gorgeous photos all around. It looks to me like your autmn is in full swing. That last photo is Monet-esque.

  2. Eliza Waters says:

    Lovely autumn leaves – the red is stunning and the reflection is double the pleasure!

  3. A very enjoyable post, I do like your title! That Liquid Amber is so perfectly positioned over the water, what a beautiful shot. I’ve not seen rustic brushwood deer guards before, what a brilliant idea and much nicer that plastic netting etc..

    • Thanks Kate. It is an inspiring bit of planting around the lake edge, from the Liquidambar orientalis on the island round to the Catalpa. The deer guards are almost examples of landart .. and are a very nice addition to the forest.

  4. Christina says:

    The last image is stunning. Btw the colours occur when there is a big difference between day and night time temperatures, there doesn’t need to be a frost.

  5. Chloris says:

    You always impress me with your photography. The last one is superb. I was out in the woods yesterday too, you can’ t beat a sunny autumnal woodland walk. But for a real blaze you need somewhere like the Botanic Garden. That Liquidamber is stunning. You need to choose one in leaf because they do vary.

    • As a child I used to love walking Cobham woods in Kent, which is predominantly a sweet chestnut plantation. That is hard to beat for colour and foraging in autumn! (Shame that they don’t do well here). You have some lovely beech woods near you don’t you? That’s useful advice for the Liquidambars. I have also read that ‘Worplesdon’ doesn’t colour up well in alkaline conditions, so it seems an extra impressive display at the Botanics unless they are in a pocket of something other than chalk.

  6. I’ve never understood the formula for great autumn color. Here the colors have been fairly muted, even as the temperatures have stayed fairly warm. Your photographs are wonderful. I like your deer protection approach, and the color of that liquidamber is stunning.

    • Thanks Jason. The key thing for autumn colour seems to be to get plenty of sugars in the leaves during the growing season and then have a warm sunny autumn, with cool nights, to break down the chlorophyll and concentrate the red and purple pigments. I am sure that many things will disrupt this, but we have been lucky in the UK this year.

  7. I am enjoying the Liquidambar at my local Tesco car park.

  8. Steve says:

    The liquidamber fantastic. You were lucky to see it like that.

  9. Sam says:

    Gorgeous pics.

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