Friday, 26 August 2011

OOTS: An Early Autumn

Autumn is arriving early here at VP Gardens: here I'm contemplating the leaves which have fallen onto our front drive from the public land next door. I've never had to think about sweeping them up in August before and it's not the first sign of seasonal change either. Before our holidays last month I was exchanging tweets with The Woodland Trust who were asking if anyone was observing autumnal signs back then. I'd been noticing the rowan trees around here were positively groaning under the weight of extremely ripe looking berries - that's during our mid summer!

Earlier this week the RHS issued a Press Release about early leaf colouring on the trees seen in various RHS gardens. Our evenings aren't dark enough yet to trigger this, so our extremely hot and dry spring is being blamed as the culprit. Despite the indifferent weather we've had since June, our soils still haven't had enough rainfall to make up for the loss they had from March through to May, so our trees are still stressed and dropping their leaves.

Driving back from Birmingham yesterday I was struck by how yellow the leaves were on most of the trees lining the M5 as well as spotting just how many of them are sporting rosy red apples. Judging by how far back lots of these were from the side of the road, some drivers must be awfully good at throwing their cores from their car windows as they travel up and down the motorway.

If you keep a nature diary or are interested in when things are happening in your garden or surrounding countryside, then you might be interested in joining the Woodland Trust's Nature's Calendar project. You'll be joining thousands of others like me who are collecting simple but important data on when various key signs of spring and autumn are seen. If you've ever heard anything about how our daffodils are flowering much earlier than they used to, or we're cutting our lawns much later each year (or even year round), then it's likely the information collected by this project is being used for the report.

This kind of research even has a special name: phenology and it's being used to track and provide supporting evidence on whether climate change is really happening. It's a worthwhile project, which won't take up a lot of your time if you decide to join in :)

Are you seeing signs of an early autumn yet? What's happening down your way?

11 comments:

  1. Hi,

    Lots of trees around Sheffield city centre have dead leaves... It's been so dry, they're all curled up and crispy rather than golden/red/orange. Berries are shrivelled too. Lawns are yellow, brown, dead. Mine is hanging in there because I water it occasionally but it's far from lush.

    I have some small signs of Autumn here, one Fuji cherry is turning deep plum yet the one next to it is still lovely green! lol. Roses are also turning yellow.

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  2. Our rowan has probably the most fruit it has ever had on it, and it's all ripe. My greengages are earlier than usual; and I've been picking blackberries for well over a month - I don't think I've ever done that in July before. Also I had a mini daffodil flower a fortnight ago, and 3 hyacinths in a pot about to flower!

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  3. stateside, i am noticing the first leaves changing into reds. two weeks ago the first V of canada geese flew south. also, that my tomatoes are ripening much slower. i am starting my own little phenology for my garden, to help me for next seasons' planting. i still have mostly green tomatoes on the vine, but they're all going off this afternoon. the remnants of irene will still be strong enough to snap plants & take up supports. so i'll be making a batch of green tomato chutney sometime next week :)

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  4. Not just me then... I've got an acer and a hazel threatening to turn, a record crop of crabapples, and the vine is on the turn too. Will check out the nature calendar thingy, sounds like an excellent project.

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  5. masses of things fruiting, picked all my Williams Pears and the Conference r almost there. Loads of drupes ready too, including the hedgerow damsons. Bostony Ivy on the cottage turning to flame red, and a yellow tinge on the oaks and beech woodlands that surround us. even feel it in the morning air, that heavy, dewed, muskiness. Seen puffballs and mushrooms aplenty too

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  6. Forget Autumn.
    What are you wearing on your feet? Are they satin slippers? if so I am not certain that they are suitable footwear for shuffling through leaves.

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  7. Definitely an autumnal feel to the air a couple of mornings recently. Some of my plants are confused, but not too bad yet!

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  8. What a cool project! I do not expect to see signs of fall for many MANY days to come. I shall soldier on, stiff upper lip, etc. HA!

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  9. Liz - there's a lot more crispy down here too instead of the reds and golds :(

    Lu - the Rowans have gone mad round here!

    Petoskystone - ooh local phenology is fab :)

    Janet - it's well worth a look :)

    Zoe - I was surprised you were seeing so many signs of autumn as my later visit to Dorset, lots of things were still looking green there

    JAS - my usual footwear in the garden are bare feet! Rest assured suitable footwear will be donned for proper leaf shuffling :)

    Dobby - I'll be checking out autumn with you real soon :)

    Cindy - thank goodness Texas has now had a espite from all that heat!

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  10. Here in the states things seem to be early as well. Just like you all we've had some extreme dryness. Until the last two weeks or so things were pretty awful. Fortunately now cooler weather has arrived and life seems to be returning - although just in time for the leaves to drop!

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  11. Hi Dave - hasn't the weather been crazy this year? Will pop back to yours with some leaf colour when autumn truly develops

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