In under a fortnight it will be the shortest day of the year here in the northern hemisphere. Never before have I followed the changing seasons so closely – and it’s all thanks to Lucy Corrander and her Loose & Leafy tree following project.
This post features pictures from two visits to the hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) in Llandaff Fields, Cardiff, on the morning of our first frost on November 24 and on December 7.
The sun is now low in the southern sky and never rises very far.
What a difference a bit of cold weather makes to autumn colours.
I had been waiting and hoping for some hint of the wonderful orange-gold I have seen in pictures of hornbeams in autumn, but the frosty days came too late to catch more than a few of the remaining leaves.
For months I had trouble spotting the fruits among the leaves, but now I see there were plenty all along.
Lucy Corrander commented in her latest tree following post how wonderful it is that as the old year dies, new life is waiting there already, in those leaf buds preparing to burst next spring. A great symbol of continuity and rebirth, as Lucy puts it “more powerful than eggs at Easter”.
You might expect that when the golden leaves fall the tree will go grey…
But it’s not like that at all, as the new leaf buds are a lovely reddish brown…
As the tree grows bare again it takes me back to our first meeting, in March. I had forgotten how red the twigs seemed then – and how I had mistaken it for a beech! Now I know there is no mistaking those curved and pointed leaf buds.
For the record, this is beech…
Now I remember again how I love the hornbeam’s amazing shape, different from all sides…
Do you remember in spring I hoped I might spend some time sitting on this bench?
I never did sit still for long! And now nature has taken a hold among the timber…
I think this may be the end of the tree-following year, even though we didn’t start until spring, but I’m not sure how I can break the habit! I will love this characterful hornbeam forever – however long that is. How will I find another tree to provide me with such discoveries, to follow in 2015? I’m getting all tearful now…
I am hoping for snow at some stage (but not TOO much!), so I can take pictures of the hornbeam in a different landscape. And at the turning of the year I will no doubt do a retrospective on the changing tree seasons of 2014.
Laura Bloomsbury is following a very different hornbeam in Gordon Square, London, and in her latest post she features a beautiful, poignant hornbeam poem!
Thanks again SO much to Lucy for giving me such a wonderful year, and to all the other tree followers she has rounded up. Here’s the link.
Here’s the link for all my tree blog posts.
And here are all my Flickr pictures of the hornbeam through 2014, bigger images than I use in this blog.