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The Tuesday tree: Autumn in the woods

October 4, 2011

If I had to choose a favourite time of year to be in the woods, I think October would come a close second to May. I love seeing the leaves turning colour, the toadstools appearing, the wildflowers dying off while the leaf litter thickens underfoot. Come and see what I mean.

The light is noticeably lower than in the summer, but most of the woodland is still green, at least from a distance.

Once under the trees, though, you see how the autumn colours are creeping in. Our Spanish chestnuts started turning colour quite early, and many have lost almost half of their leaves already.

Underfoot, the forest floor is scattered with their little nuts, each in a prickly husk which has curled open like a pale green flower.

The beech boughs are a mixture of summer and autumn at the moment.

On the margins of the wood, there is plenty of fresh green growth: the incorrigible nettles are still growing happily.

Further under the trees’ shade, though, there is little greenery growing except for grass and a stem of ragwort, that scourge of pastureland. (It is poisonous to horses.)

The fungi is perfectly happy in the shade, of course, not being reliant on photosynthesis. There are toadstools under the fir trees,

under the oaks,

and under the beech.

There is even a toadstool growing out of the underside of an exposed root.

Other roots catch rainwater, of which there has been more than enough this year. Our spaniel loves to stop at this beech tree to drink the sweet water pooled in its roots.

There’s something to enjoy wherever you look.


See also The Tuesday tree: the forest floor.


16 Comments leave one →
  1. hmunro permalink
    October 4, 2011 8:47 pm

    Love, love, LOVE the photos! (Especially the very last one.) There is indeed something to enjoy everywhere you look; thank you for taking us along.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      October 4, 2011 11:36 pm

      Thanks, hon – done in a bit of a rush, but I tried to capture the essentials!

  2. October 5, 2011 5:48 am

    I think that rain water caught in the roots of that beech tree must have some magical properties. Looking at the roots, it just seems like it should. One of the things that always amazes me about your photos of the trees, is the ability to see among them. We have so much underbrush and under-story that it’s very difficult to walk through the woods. And we definitely don’t get the light through the trees like you do. We end up with a darker green, more shadows, even in mid-day in the summer. I’d love to stroll through the woods without bushwhacking or being imprisoned by a trail!

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      October 5, 2011 1:00 pm

      One of the reasons that this is my favourite bit of woodland is that it is so mixed and yet so open. Our conifer woodlands have a different feel: there are dense rhododendrons and ferns under the Douglas firs, and deep shade in the unwelcoming, prickly, commercial conifer plantations. This open feel is characteristic of beech woods, although in this case there are all sort of other varieties too. But we do have to step in and cut back the rhodies periodically.

      You are so right in saying that water from a beech tree should have magical properties. I completely agree! In fact – although I haven’t tried it myself – I’m sure that the beech bark does actually make the water taste sweeter, if nothing else. It may have Entish qualities…I’ll keep an eye on the dog to see if she grows any taller!

  3. Toffeeapple permalink
    October 5, 2011 12:33 pm

    Lovely pictures again. The fungi is very varied, is any of it edible? What about the chestnuts, do you eat them?

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      October 5, 2011 1:06 pm

      Thank you. The fungi is amazingly varied, which is one reason I can’t stop taking photos of it! I am a bit lazy about trying to identify the different varieties, though. The only one which grows here and which I know for sure is edible is the giant puffball (my ‘How to cook a giant puffball’ post is always pretty popular at this time of year) but I don’t know about any of the ones in the present post. If in doubt, don’t, is my motto for fungi!

      The chestnuts, sadly, never grow bigger than the very modest wee specimens you see here. Not like the great fat ones you get down south. I suppose if we were starving we could try to cook ours but, as it is, I am happy to leave them to the squirrels.

  4. October 5, 2011 6:24 pm

    OOooh I love funghi! When I used to ride out through woodland I loved looking at all the varieties. And of course would search for pixies. And yes as Lisa says above – I’m sure there must be magical properties to the sweet water caught in the roots. 😉 I LOVE mixed woodland!

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      October 5, 2011 11:46 pm

      This sounds like your sort of place, then, Sian – though I can’t vouch for the pixies. 😉

  5. October 6, 2011 7:52 pm

    lost a lovely hour there reading through your beautiful blog. Im delighted to have stumbled on dancingbeastie. Your anniversary post from last October is a treat to read. I ve just recently started blogging and you had put into words exactly what I was pondering today, as I walked along the beach at Carnoustie. I look forward to reading more.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      October 7, 2011 7:47 pm

      Likewise! Great to find another Tayside blog, especially one which tells me about lots of things I want to know! I’m glad you found DB and thanks for visiting.

  6. Val permalink
    October 11, 2011 1:24 am

    Lovely. You have a beautiful blog and from what I’ve seen and read so far, it’s interesting too, so I’ve just subscribed. I look forward to reading more. (I’m in Wales, by the way).

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      October 11, 2011 2:48 pm

      Thank you very much, Val, and welcome!

  7. October 23, 2011 7:06 pm

    Wonderful photos as always, DB.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      October 24, 2011 11:43 pm

      Thank you for saying so.


  1. ‘Many of those trees were my friends’ « Dancing Beastie
  2. An amber Autumn « Dancing Beastie

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