"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Friday, 4 November 2011

Autumnal Leaves

My favourite feature of autumn is the changing colour of the leaves and yesterday, inbetween the heavy rain showers, I spent a few minutes taking photos in the garden. The light was low so the photos aren't particularly sharp (yes, I know I should have used the tripod to eliminate camera shake!) but hopefully you can appreciate some of the lovely colours.

Whilst looking at the leaf colour in the wooded area at the top of the garden a flock of long-tailed tits, who seemed totally oblivious to my presence, flew in and started foraging amongst the trees. Isn't it great how a chance encounter like that can make your day?

There are still a few plants in flower around the garden

Why do leaves change colour in Autumn? As daylight hours shorten and temperatures become cooler, the chlorophyll (which provides the green colour)in decidous tree leaves starts to decrease. As a result pigments such as carotenoids (orange-yellow) and anthocyanins (reds and purples) which have been hidden become visible giving the leaves their beautiful autumn tints. Eventually a corky layer (the abscission) grows at the base of the leaf stalk and the leaf will die and fall off the tree.

I'll finish off with one of my favourite autumnal poems:

The Burning of the Leaves

"Now is the time for the burning of the leaves,
They go to the fire; the nostril pricks with smoke
Wandering slowly into a weeping mist.
Brittle and blotched, ragged and rotten sheaves!
A flame seizes the smouldering ruin and bites
On stubborn stalks that crackle as they resist.

The last hollyhock's fallen tower is dust;
All the spices of June are a bitter reek,
All the extravagant riches spent and mean.
All burns! The reddest rose is a ghost;
Sparks whirl up, to expire in the mist: the wild
Fingers of fire are making corruption clean.

Now is the time for stripping the spirit bare,
Time for the burning of days ended and done,
Idle solace of things that have gone before:
Rootless hope and fruitless desire are there;
Let them go to the fire, with never a look behind.
The world that was ours is a world that is ours no more.

They will come again, the leaf and the flower, to arise
From squalor of rottenness into the old splendour,
And magical scents to a wondering memory bring;
The same glory, to shine upon different eyes.
Earth cares for her own ruins, naught for ours.
Nothing is certain, only the certain spring."

by Laurence Binyon.


Rob said...

A wonderful variety of colours and shapes in those autumn leaves, Caroline. I wish we had space for some decent trees here. An evocative poem, too - I wish we had space for a good garden bonfire too!

Ragged Robin said...

Many thanks Rob. TBH it was the size of the garden that made us want to buy the house so much.
Although I am never satisfied - I would love one 4x as big :D.