Tuesday, 5 November 2013


Long ago, when I lived for a time in Manhattan, I recall a group of us hiring a car and driving out into upper New York state to "look at the Fall". I still find Autumn scenery spectacular, and in a way the last riot of colour offers some compensation for the dark winter days that lie ahead. Hereabouts the horse chestnut changes colour in September and the beech and field maple in October. My local wood comprises mostly beech and chestnut, though laurel, cypress, yew, pine and rhododendron ensure that my view never entirely loses the green through the winter.
Beech (above) seems to shut down operations over quite a long period. A hedgerow beech will often hold a lot of brown leaves right through the winter until they drop in the spring. I wonder if this does not serve a similar purpose to the dead flowers that my hydrangeas hold over the same period, and which seem to catch the frost and keep it away from young shoots.
Larch (left), our deciduous conifer, is a tree that offers endless variety. At this time of year it is almost yellow before its needles fall; in the winter its brownness is bettered by the dark green of all its neighbouring spruce and firs, but in the new year its beautiful new lime green foliage is a true harbinger of spring.
When the weather is cloudy the light can remain murky all day; by contrast the low angled sunlight that sometimes breaks through, especially on a frosty day like today, is still capable of turning Sliabh Mannan into a beautiful sight. Moisture hanging in droplets from wayside shrubs, particularly the hawthorn, out-jewels a jeweller's, whilst the many hues still present in the woodland offer an intriguing palette to a painter or photographer.

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