Seen at the Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden ~ Chinese proverb

Friday, 7 November 2014

Tree Following With Lucy: Autumn's Demise

Photo of ash tree beginning to turn autumnal October 2014
Not quite green beginning to turn yellow, 21st October 2014

As I anticipated last month, Lucy's Tree Following project has allowed me to see how Autumn affects my ash tree in some detail.

This tree species is usually one of the later ones to turn around here and 2014 is no exception. Initially they spend some time deciding what to do and look more not quite green than properly autumnal. My tree looked like that from the beginning of October, and then on the 18th, the change began properly. Just one single branch - the lowest one - started showing distinct signs of yellow.

Photo of an ash tree at its most golden moment October 2014
At peak yellow on October 25th, but already there's a hint of brown

Then in what seemed a flash, the rest of the tree followed suit. It was at this point I tried to film what I call the 'the quiet rain' I remember from previous years. There is a point when the ash's leaves rain down silently on the garden, each twig quietly and suddenly letting go of its golden load.

Alas it was not to be. Each time I got my camera out to record the event, only a few leaves fluttered down obligingly. I think our exceptionally warm autumn means the annual letting go was quieter than ever. Perhaps a good hard frost is needed for the whirl of leaves across my garden I was expecting to happen.

Photo of ash tree with almost no leaves left - October 2014
Leaf drop almost complete, October 31st. Note all the leaves needing to be cleared off the vegetation below

Of course, as soon as I put my camera away, I spotted more leaves falling into the garden. I got my camera out again and the leaves stopped. Even the marvellously named 'remains of hurricane Gonzolo' blowing across the garden didn't stir my tree into dropping its leaves in a spectacular fashion.

Then, I compared my tree with the other ashes nearby to find mine had none of the deep reds the tops of the others were waving about with gay abandon.

Photo of an ash tree in the final stages of autumn 2014
Leaf-clumped branches silhouetted against my neighbour's birch tree, 4th November 2014

Now, just a couple of weeks later my tree is almost winter ready. It's at its most mournful stage where sorry sodden clumps of brown leaves hang onto the end of most branches. This state of affairs will continue until the roaring winds of winter finally strips the tree bare.

I think I might have a duff tree in the autumn department.

Photo of a stray ash leaf on a kitchen floor
A stray ash leaf on my kitchen floor

Have a look at how the other Tree Follower's autumns have progressed over at Loose and Leafy.

23 comments:

  1. I've never managed to capture that beautiful moment of leaves all falling at once, but it's lovely to see. Time for everything to have a rest, but it will be easier to see the birds flitting about in your tree now.

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    1. Oh yes, I've been able to see Mr and Mrs pigeon's antics much more closely the past few weeks CJ, but I couldn't film that either because they were being 'naughty' ;)

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  2. It's interesting to see such a dramatic change documented and photographed like this. Flighty xx

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    1. I wouldn't have thought about doing it, were it not for #treefollowing :) xx

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  3. Thank you for your post. I have enjoyed it very much. In my garden trees are not that bright. Groetjes from Holland, Hetty

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    1. Thanks Hetty - are you near the sea in Holland? My friend in Wales does and she finds there isn't much autumn colour there as a result

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  4. The ashes here are in full leaf and only just changing colour. Having read your post I may have spoken too soon. The wind has been blowing and all of a sudden we have had heavy rain. Maybe when I visit them tomorrow the leaves will all have gone.

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    1. Yes, the wind's reached here too, Lucy. I think that winter blast I talked about in the post may have come early...

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  5. Your ash tree is so much more beautiful in fall than mine that turned brown and dropped its leaves...

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    1. Ash are notorious for not being a good autumn tree Donna. It seems I'm lucky that mine went through the yellow stage - a lot of them don't.

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  6. You are so lucky to have your Ash change colour, mine never do. All the leaves get ripped off the trees before they can change colour, such a shame to see green leaves on the ground. One of my ash trees in the woodland is completely bare and another in the garden is still fully clothed, I don't know why they should be so different. With the gales and torrential rain we are having today, maybe the second tree will soon be bare!

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    1. I've been pondering why my tree is different to others on the estate. I think it's because it's more sheltered, so the top branches haven’t been exposed to the coolest temperatures. I wonder if something similar applies to your trees

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  7. It's quite fleeting Donna, I usually just catch the brown leaf stage only

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  8. Oh dear, poor ash tree, being called a duffer!! I think trees save the spectacular leaf fall for when we aren't watching, a sort of "hah! you missed it!" moment. At least, that's my explanation for the sudden bare branches on my black elder, which shed all its leaves without a single one turning colour. I rather like the bare silhouette of your tree with its clumps of leaves.

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    1. Janet, I'm wondering if autumn works in the same way for you as it does at Karen's, she always talks about the lack of autumn

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    2. I think there's an element of that, certainly, I was talking to Kate about it recently, but on the other hand my acer colours up beautifully, as do the dogwoods, the dwarf cherry and the witch hazel, all of which are sited in very different areas of the garden. I do notice more autumn as I drive away from North Wales though. Maybe the wind just gets to lots of the leaves first.

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    3. I think the examples you've given are exceptions that prove the rule Janet! Everyone's saying it's a poor autumn for colour this year, yet Westonbirt was breathtaking when I visited - due to the Acers, spindles, dogwoods, witch hazels....

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  9. Obviously your ash is camera shy VP. Ours lacks any hint of red in its leaves too. It has already shed its leaves bar from one branch. I'm trying to fathom out why.

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    1. It's the first year I've noticed any ash trees with red on them Anna. I'm wondering it's a first or if I've just been unobservant!

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  10. I love the poise of the ash leaf and its shadow.

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  11. I don't think you have a duff tree at all. I think it looks pretty spectacular, and if it would like to behave like an ent and walk over to me, it could tell my ashes (four up? Why?) how to behave...

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    1. Kate, it's duff compared to the other trees nearby. Its glory is so fleeting - in contrast my quince tree was a fantastic golden yellow for weeks and then was a glowing orange for a few days more. Blink and you'd miss autumn with an ash tree.

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