Monday, 3 October 2011

Chasing after Fall

We've been enjoying some spectacular Summer weather lately, but I'm not really in the mood for Summer anymore - I'm ready for Fall. The changing leaves and the earlier evenings make it impossible to ignore its impending arrival. So I decided we should take advantage of the warm weather to go looking for Fall colours.

Native British trees don't put on quite the same impressive array of foliage as North American or Japanese trees, so had to try an arboretum. A colleague at work recommended Westonbirt arboretum, about a 1.5 hour drive west of Oxford, and luckily friends with a car were willing to provide transportation.

I was looking forward to some brilliant Japanese maples, but in the end we found a lot more of interest than just pretty leaves. They had some lovely statuesque sequoia, pines and plane trees, including this majestic oriental plane tree.

There were also, surprisingly, still a decent number of shrubs in flower, including this unusual find, a suitably autumnal Carolina allspice (reminding me it is almost time to start baking pumpkin pies!)

 And for a taste of the Japanese maples, here is one with brilliant red helicopter seeds.

But I think my favourite discovery was the fruit trees. Not edible fruits, but lovely colourful berries. The most amazing, which I've never seen before, were the Asian spindle trees, with delicate little umbrella seedpods dripping orange berries.

There was another variety with bright pink and orange seed pods, and then there were the white berry shrubs and the blue berry shrubs - too many to remember the names. Suffice to say, I'll be brushing up on my oriental botany if I ever get a house with a garden.

And finally, for a taste of the Winter ahead, a stunning weeping silver holly.

The lovely photos are thanks to my husband who mostly patiently followed my artistic direction (i.e. pointing and saying, 'Ooh, take a picture of that!')