This week the leaves fell off all the trees around here and the landscape is now looking shockingly bare. It has really changed the feel of things. The light has changed. The protective canopy has gone. This cycle is ending. So I am joining The Propagator for his Six On Saturday meme with a mixed bag of choices this week. There’s a lot of senescence and decay.
But I’ll start this post with a question.
1) Does anyone know what this shrub is?
This shrub at work has been looking good for a few weeks now with clusters of lovely, shiny red berries and last week the leaves joined the show. I’ve never noticed them before, but aren’t they just wonderful? They look like they’ve been dipped in chocolate or damson jam. Anyhow, I’ve looked and googled for the shrub, but nothing I’ve seen is quite right. The red berries are tiny (like callicarpa), yet translucent (like guelder rose). The leaves are all wrong for red elder and the berries are all wrong for amelanchier.
2) Moss green
This is the top of our front gate. I think that its days are numbered, ‘cos the moss is no longer just growing on top of the wood, but in a fairly deep trench down the middle. In fact, there is a whole ecosystem in there when you look along its length: moss, lichen, senecio, ladybirds, bugs etc. It’s turning itself into a linear green roof. I find this kind of moss hard to resist. Doesn’t it make you want to reach out and touch it? Plus, those fruiting heads will look great covered in dew/mist, so I must remember to take some macro photos when that happens.
3) More decay
It is Shaggy ink cap season (Coprinus comatus, also know as Lawyer’s Wig mushroom). Each year we have an outbreak of these fungi down the driveway, with something of a colony developing. Unfortunately, before I could take a photo of them I found that they’d been kicked over by an enthusiastic ‘groundsman’, so this is a picture of one down the alley next door. It is fascinating to observe the fungi develop over a couple of days (see last year’s post on their lifecycle here). Already you can see the onset of the cap’s transformation to a puddle of black ‘ink’ with that thick oozing drip down the stalk. It has the feel of a horror movie.
4) More fungi – Pear Rust
Sadly both my Conference pears again showed signs of this disease on their leaves this year. The disease (Gymnosporangium sabinae) causes bright orange spots on the top of the leaves. I usual pick off affect leaves and destroy them. This year, for the first time, I noticed that there were still leaves in autumn showing signs of infection and that on the underside there was a gall-like growth and here is a shot of that.
Now that I’ve read up on the problem, I see that the good news is that in order to complete its lifecycle the fungus needs a juniper tree. The bad is that spores are airborne over quite long distances.
5) Spirals Restored
I am very late to clip the bay trees back into shape this year, but over the last two days have finally got on with the job. In fact, I enjoy doing it, because the smell is absolutely delicious and of course it’s fun seeing those coils tighten. My only reservation about the task is that it means working at the top of a ladder. With the mist damping everything yesterday I didn’t even bother getting the taller ladder out till today. This photo was taken half way through, showing the before and after appearance of the bays. They are both done now, but you can bet I’ll be out there, with the shears, several times over the next couple of weeks as I decide to neaten a little bit here and a little bit there.
6) More lovely geometry
Melianthus major (giant honey flower) has wonderful leaf structure and an attractive glaucous colour. I’ve seen it in flower in the south of England and in protected gardens, but here it gets cut back by the weather and so never manages to get that far. I grow it for the leaves in any case. This is a shot of a new leaf emerging this week. I’d never really registered the flame-like sheath before. Beautiful.
Have a good weekend!