IS THAT AUTUMN ON THE AIR?

First walk of autumn

It was only on Sunday afternoon that I got to taking the dogs on a long exploratory walk. The mission: to determine what advances autumn had made during the month I was away. Already, on waking on Friday morning, I was surprised at how cool it was; especially after braving 36 degrees of heat in Cape Town only days before.

Birch

I maintain that the first subtle signs of changes in leaf colour happen by mid Feb, by mid March autumn gets going and mid April to mid May it is at its peak. So I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised that the above sights greeted me on 17 March: a birch in full autumn glory!

Cornus

It was not the only example of Look at Me Now! Here a dogwood struts its stuff as only a dogwood can. I think it is Cornus sanguinea, but I’ve always had my doubts about these small shrubby trees which I grew from seed I imported nearly 20 years ago. As it has never flowered for me, identification is difficult.

Cornus florida

The beautiful little pagoda-like buds identify Cornus florida, as do the bright colour of early leaves against the still fresh green of others.

Acer rubra

Quieter, but lovely, are two trees we bought together as Acer rubra; I have no reason to doubt this, except that they lack the autumn drama and staying power they are known for in other parts of the world. In addition the one tends to yellow rather than red autumn colour. They are planted meters apart.

Yellow leaved acer rubra

Oh (and I won’t say this too often) – one can see we’ve had a harsh summer with several hail storms and plenty of wind. Or is it just that the battered leaves are the first to give up on life?

Lovely leaves

I’m darned if I know what these lovely leaves belong to – a viburnum? It is one of a mix of seed-raised plants in what I call my hedgerow. Bit of thinking and research needed here…

Red Plane

We are back a little beyond where the very first photo was taken. One of my most interesting trees grows here, and soon I will again try cuttings for my friend Jo… It is a plane tree, but instead of turning yellow its leaves turn red. I found it amongst hundreds of other quite normal planes at a wholesale nursery at about this time of year. Last summer it took a bit of a knock when a huge old pine fell and caught some of its branches, but it has thrived this past summer…

Red plane detail

It is one of the first trees to show definite colour change in mid Feb; here it is in mid March and it has staying power till mid May – longer than any other tree!

There are other pics from this walk, and subsequent ones. More summery, less autumnal. But this pic from the end of the walk, warm light reflected after sunset from a bank of clouds to the south-east, is a good place to end off for now.

Reflected evening light

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