As the woodland habitats in the Wildlife Garden mature, the pageant of autumn colour seems to increase in intensity each year. Museum photographer, Jonathan Jackson (who needs little encouragement to escape the studio and work with living natural history), spent some time in the garden 2 weeks ago shooting many beautiful images, including most of the photos below. And Larissa Cooper, who joined us nearly 3 months ago, adds some of her own and describes her first autumn in the Wildlife Garden:
"As the autumnal chill creeps up on us, the many different (mostly native) trees we have in the garden begin to show off their colours before being cast away now their job has been done.
The colours of the garden vary as the leaves begin to fall. The first tree to drop its leaves was the common lime (Tilia x europea).
It’s a beautiful but busy time for us in the garden. Leaves are broken down on the woodland floor by decomposers such as fungi and detritivores like millipedes and earthworms. However the non-native London plane trees (Plantanus x hispanica) cover the garden with large leathery leaves which are a bit too much for our native flora, such as bluebells, to push through.
Fungi growing from decaying wood sits in front of a fallen plane tree leaf (Photo: L.Cooper)
Enter the wildlife gardeners, volunteers and occasionally other staff with our rakes and trusty shredder, giving nature a little helping hand to break down the leaves. Looking out for frogs and toads hiding from the cold we gently rake and remove the plane tree leaves. being careful not to damage any seedlings and delicate plants. By December we will have raked and shredded tonnes of leaves, and scattered the shreddings back onto the woodland floor to allow a buildup of decomposed leaves.
But raking leaves aside; it gives us a chance to see the beauty of the changing colours around us. The beech (Fagus sylvatica) trees turn amber while the poplar leaves change to a vibrant yellow.
Beech trees behind the meadow show off their varying colours
The plants around the pond die back diverting the attention to the golden reeds which complement the colours of the early autumnal evenings.
Common reeds (Phragmites australis) turn a golden brown
While the holly holds its colour, with dashes of red from the berries, the spindle tree (Euonymus europaeus) displays an almost tropical array of fuchsia-coloured berries.
Spindle berries add a touch of pink to the usual reds, yellows and browns of autumn
It is all such a treat so see on a daily basis!"
The main pond is surrounded by autumnal colours
The bright yellows of the hornbeam are reminiscent of summer glowing on a clear chilly autumnal afternoon
Thank you to Larissa and Jonathan for the blog and photos.