Tree following, October / November


It doesn’t seem right to call a post ‘October’ when so much of the dramatic change happened in one week, and that week was in November. We’ve had autumn colour, you see. And now we have bare branches, and the autumn colour is all over the grass, paths, beds, plants, compost heap, oil tank, cold frame, etc, and a tide of leaves has been blown up against the walls like spume from a stormy sea. One week. But a good week.

And the birches have been beautiful:

birchesMy birch – well, the one I have been following – is the one behind the Big Thug, and look at the colour of that trunk. When I started following my baby downy birch as part of Loose and Leafy‘s tree following meme in March the trunk was still distinctly orange, though there were signs that my babe might be growing up enough to change colour. I think it’s done it, at least at this level.

tree 2

Even higher up, very markedly orange until recently, there’s been a change as the old skin has been shed. Smaller branches and new twigs are still orangey brown (deep brown in the case of twigs), but the silveriness is extending higher and higher. Who’s a big boy, then?

The leaves started colouring – or maybe that should really be ‘uncolouring’ – very, very gradually with just one or two going all the way at first. Then more and more began to develop an elegant brown and golden border,


starting with a delicate brown tip. There are no more shield bugs (I can’t believe they have started hibernating already; apart from a couple of chilly nights, it’s still been quite mild), but the late-season sun has been very warm – ideal for basking – and they’ve been absent, so they must have gone elsewhere. England, probably, given the strength of some of the winds.

Then more and more of the leaves quite quickly became completely yellow, though they were still firmly attached. The ‘cones’ also suddenly matured and started shedding seeds everywhere:

birch 'cones'

I swear this happened overnight, though – as seen in by the ones in the background of the next shot – there are still a lot which haven’t quite matured enough. I’m also intrigued by the way in which they seem to shed naturally from the bottom; that end must ripen first.

more cones

And then, of course, along comes a big wind and all the leaves fly off. I can now almost count the ones remaining on the tree (sigh).

It’s not just the followed birch, of course, which is now all over the meadow; there are contributions from the other two, and from the ashes and apples (last year there would have been some from the rowan as well, but that succumbed to the January storms). They are scattered over everything, but most notably over the astonishing mushroom (non-)crop which has marked this autumn.

brown roll-rim

They sit rather nicely in the cup formed by a very mature brown roll-rim… and the mushrooms are over too, now.

See you next year, autumn…

so long..


16 Comments Add yours

  1. Woo hoo! Real autumn colour! Lovely colouring on the trunk of your birch too, makes me hopeful that mine will colour sooner than perhaps I was thinking, I wish I could remember how long it took last time I planted maiden birches…

    1. kate says:

      It’s pure coincidence that it’s done it this year (actually I’ve been out with a paintbrush – I’m sure there’s a Farrow and Ball colour called something like ‘new birch trunk’)…

  2. Pauline says:

    Birch leaves turn such a beautiful golden colour. Your tree is growing up now that it is starting to show white bark it must be in it’s teenage years! Just wait until you’re washing the trunk down to show off the lovely white bark so that it sparkles in the winter sun!

    1. kate says:

      I know, it’s definitely a teenager (just look at the way it strewed leaves all over the garden, no putting them in the laundry basket, oh no). Ahem.

      I think washing down the bark is fine if you’re at Anglesey Abbey and have that fabulous grove of birches, and possibly no life. I’m afraid the chances of me getting out there with — oh, all right, I admit it has crossed my mind. But I’d need a cherry picker to get all the way up some of my birches, and without that they’d just look as though they’d not washed properly. Back to the teenage boy analogy!

  3. Lucy Corrander says:

    You make everything ‘over’ very cheerful and welcoming. The colours are lovely. Your tree is like a snake with its bark shedding.

    1. kate says:

      Isn’t it? I’d not thought of that – perfect analogy.

  4. croftgarden says:

    Forget the scrubbing brush, give it a hug!

    1. kate says:

      Now that’s much more me!

  5. Gillian says:

    Birch trees with their buttery yellow autumn leaves are most beautiful on a crisp cold day with clear blue sky. Lovely photos Kate. Gillian

    1. kate says:

      Thank you – the weather really helped (for once)!

  6. Fall is such an enjoyable time, so full of loud, bold color…You really capture it well.

    1. kate says:

      I do love it, but here on the west coast of Wales it can be very transient – and not as colourful as I might hope. Few miles inland, and it’s a different story. We’re probably too warm and wet. Very wet. Grumble.

  7. impressive uncolouring and by the looks of the shots, you picked a good day to exhibit your teeny, downy Birch.

    1. kate says:

      Indeed – they were playing along… and I didn’t pick ‘a’ good day, alas, as much as ‘the’ good day. The only one. Sniffle. (And though today isn’t too bad, the gales have ripped all the leaves off. Oh well.)

  8. wellywoman says:

    It’s been an odd year for autumnal colour. Rather than a blast of spectacular colour it seems, certainly down here in south east Wales, to have been more of a drip drip of leaf colour. I was noting the trees yesterday on the way back from a trip up north and how many of them which are still in leaf. Some trees are still fairly green. I do think birch get overlooked when it comes to autumn colour which is a pity because the golden leaves are stunning.

    1. kate says:

      That sounds familiar… There are a few still in leaf with us, but we’re due a frost in the next couple of days – didn’t have one last year – and that should scupper the rest. The oddest for me was my ginkgo, which hung onto green for ages, went yellow one night, and then immediately dropped almost all of its leaves. It’s an odd year.

Leave a reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.