Gentle yellows and greens of oak woodland in Autumn

In Praise of Restraint – Autumn in the Woods

Gentle yellows and greens of oak woodland in Autumn

Gentle yellows and greens of oak woodland in Autumn

Gentle yellows and greens of oak woodland in Autumn

Gentle yellows and greens of oak woodland in Autumn

Dew on the woodland floor on an autumn morning

Dew on the woodland floor on an autumn morning

I keep going on about Autumn, but I make no apology for it.  It is my favourite time of year.  The spring flowers are magical, and the Summer meadows glorious, but there is nothing quite like the fungal smell of autumn in the woods.  What I particularly like is how oak trees don’t “shout” about autumn like many other species.  Maple and cherry have been particularly loud this year – flaming orange and yellow, and stunning reds lighting up the trees along the roadside.  Almost all the trees in the ancient part of our woods are oak, which takes a more restrained approach.

Some are still quite green right now, others have a gentle yellow tinge, and others simply go brown at the edges and fall.  Against this restrained backdrop, the yellow of field maple, willow and hazel, and the shocking reds of spindle, cherry and some rowan leaves, as well as a gentle pinks and purples of elder can stand out.  Betty’s wood in particular with its greater variety of young saplings shines out in orange, red and yellow against the darkness of the old oak trees.  Oak provides a pastel and gentle canvas against which the other species can stand out.

Yellows in Betty's Wood standing out against the green oak and ash

Yellows in Betty’s Wood standing out against the green oak and ash

Cherry leaves turn orange red in Betty's Wood

Cherry leaves turn orange red in Betty’s Wood

On the forest floor, things are changing too.  It hasn’t been very wet this year and the fungi are yet to get going, but we have seen some amazing hyphae on one of our fallen logs.

Fungal hyphae form a net on a fallen log.

Fungal hyphae form a net on a fallen log.

The lichens are also coming into their own, forming a miniature forest with the various species of moss, topped off by the fallen leaves covered in dew in the early morning.  The grass also shines with dew, giving the woods an autumnal feel, and a softness that is missing at other times of the year.

Dew on a fallen oak leaf on a bed of lichen and moss

Dew on a fallen oak leaf on a bed of lichen and moss

A tiny forest of moss and lichen

A tiny forest of moss and lichen

The leaves are gently falling now and autumn is in full swing.  There is no sadness – nature is beautiful all year round.  Winter is round the corner, and with it the milky low sunshine and stark beauty and form of our lovely trees.  The turn of the seasons is something I really treasure.  For now, I will enjoy the restrained beauty of an oak woodland in the fall.

 

Red berries and raindrops

Guellder rose berries and leaves

Guellder rose berries and leaves

Guellder rose berries and leaves

Guellder rose berries and leaves
Guellder rose berries and leaves
Guellder rose berries and leaves

Guellder rose berries and leaves

Autumn colour is late coming this year and the leaves are dropping almost before they have had a chance to change, thanks to the blustery conditions.  One of the shrubs in our woodland that has produced spectacular colour, both in leaf and berry, is guelder rose (Viburnum opulis).  For several weeks, the leaves have been tinged with red, but they are now in full colour.  Today, the autumn light was just right – low sun, coming from behind, lighting up the translucent leaves and berries, with dark woodland in the background, and I managed to get a few shots.

Raindrops on leaves are also wonderful in the low autumn light – and I managed to find some beautiful oak leaves with little raindrops standing out like jewels, resting on a fallen log in lovely diffused lighting.

Raindrops on oak leaves

Raindrops on oak leaves

Raindrops on oak leaves

Raindrops on oak leaves

Raindrops on oak leaves

Raindrops on oak leaves

Raindrops on oak leaves

Raindrops on oak leaves

Raindrops on oak leaves

Raindrops on oak leaves