Saturday, 26 December 2015

Late Flowers

It is possible to see the odd flower blossoming at any time of the year in Milton Country Park.  Outside of the two garden areas, there were a few plants defying the season and flowering during October and November.

Brambles in flower
South of Park - 4 October 2015

In early October, there were still a number of blackberry bushes flowering quite vigorously, alongside ripe fruit on the same bush. In the background of the image above, the bushes are just beginning to turn yellow.

Herb Robert in woodland
By Dickerson's Pit - 12 October 2015

Herb robert seems to be one of those plants which are forever flowering.  No matter when, if you search hard enough for the easily overlooked small flowers on the low growing plants, you can always find these pretty pink flowers somewhere.  Here they are in the tangled undergrowth of the woods on the east bank of Dickerson's Pit.

Single convolvulus flower amongst brambles
Deep Water - 12 November 2015

This single convolvulus flower is the last straggler in an area that was once white with its blossom.  Within a week of this photograph being taken, all the convolvulus flowers had gone from the park.

Hogweed flowers and dead stems overlooking meadow
South of Park - 8 November 2015

Probably because of the mildness of the season and lack of any frosts, this hogweed, shown here against a background of autumn colour, was flowering quite profusely.

In the Garden

Solitary rose flower
Garden - 8 November 2015

In the gardens in the park, there were a number of plants with little bits of blossom on, the left overs from a summer show.  Once such plant was this rose which is in almost perfect condition. 

Flowering winter jasmine climbing wooden fence and gateway
Garden - 8 November 2015

By contrast to the previous pictures of plants flowering at the end of their season, my final photograph is of winter jasmine which is just starting to blossom.  If anything, this is early.

Next: High Autumn

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Early Autumn

The first tentative signs of autumn in Milton Country Park first appear in late September and early October.

Oak tree with a few red leaves
Remembrance Meadow - 22 September 2015

The signs can be almost imperceptible: in this case just a few leaves on the oak tree have turned a vivid red.

Single reed by small inlet
Todd's Pit - 20 September 2015

Or, an equally subtle change, the leaves on a reed turning yellow.

Such changes can be the result of stress or disease.  But, as there have been no extreme weather during the summer of 2015, it is likely that the alterations in colour are a genuine response to the change in season.

Yellowing elder tree in woods
Path on East Side of Dickerson's Pit - 22 September 2015

In the woods to the east of Dickerson's Pit, this elder bush is turning yellow before any other trees in the vicinity.

Hawthorn bush with red foliage amongst other green bushes
South of Park - 22 September 205

Amongst any other factors that affect the rate of change to autumn colours, position has some role.  This hawthorn bush is growing in a position to catch the afternoon and evening sun, and has turned red a long time ahead of most of the other hawthorns in the park. I have already noticed during previous months, that there can be anything up to a month between the first and last appearance of some change or other in the park.  

Sycamore beside deep water
Deep Water - 4 October 2015

One of the earliest trees to complete the transition to autumn colours was this sycamore tree on the south east corner of Deep Water.

I have found it a lot easier to capture these very early and tentative signs of the change of season than I did the corresponding changes in spring.  This is partly because the transition from the bare and brown to the green and fully leaved happened very quickly: in the case of hawthorn the change completed in little more than a fortnight.  This autumn, at least, the changes have been far more gradual and spread over a period of months. Secondly, by the time a fledgling leaf on a bough is large enough to register in anything but closeup, the tree or bush is already covered in confluent vegetation and the change is complete.  Finally, as shown above, there is a wide variation in the start of and the speed of change across the park: a sycamore completely yellow when other sycamores stayed green for another couple of months.

An Autumn Morning

Footprints in dewy grass
Sundial Meadow - 11 October 2015

I finish with that most autumnal of scenes: grass covered in dew shiny in the early morning sunlight, complete with the photographer's transport and footprints.

Books and Blogs

There are a lot of nature blogs on the net, most of which are more concerned with the fauna than with the landscape.  One of my favourites is Tales of the City featuring wild life in London.  Two others, mostly photographic, are Roy's Nature Logbook and The Quiet Walker .

Next: Late Flowers

Saturday, 12 December 2015


In spring, Milton Country Park is transformed by successive waves of white blossom, which, in turn, develops into ripe fruit from late July onwards.

Cherry plums
By Path to Fen Road Exit - 23 July 2015

The first trees to blossom in the park are the cherry plums and the blackthorn in late March (see post Blossom).  Four months later, appetizing ripe plums hang on the boughs.  At the time this photograph was taken there were masses of unripe plums on the tree.  When I went back to photograph the tree just over a week later, all the plums had gone.

Ripening blackthorn berries
South East Park - 28 July 2015

At the same time as the cherry plums are getting ripe for picking, the blackthorn berries still have a way to go.  I only found this one bush by the poplars in the south east corner of the park with any berries on it.  

Ripe red apples growing on tree
By Fen Road Exit - 10 September 2015

About a month after the blackthorn, came the apple trees (see post Apple Blossom Time).  By September, a variety of apples, large and small, red and green, could be seen on the trees around the park.

Green windfall apples litter the path
North of Deep Water - 20 September 2015

In some cases, the windfalls were more conspicuous than the apples left on the trees.

Hawthorn bush with berries
By Hall's Pond - 10 September 2015

There was a magnificent display of hawthorn during May (see post May). But whether it was the weather - there was a very heavy storm just at the peak of the blossom -  or whether it is the position of the bushes in the park, the crop of berries in the park seemed disappointing.  Frustratingly, I saw plenty of bushes around Milton that were red with berries, but none in the park itself.  This bush was one of the bushes that provided an amphitheatre of white in the centre of the park by Hall's Pond shown in earlier post.

Close up of Ripe elderberries
Play Area - 23 August 2015

The last two bushes which produced a profusion of white flowers were the elder and the bramble.  Elderflowers were the slightly earlier of the two, appearing early to mid June (see post Elderflower Time).  Despite the late flowers, elderberries are some of the first fruit to ripen.  Here, in a favoured location with plenty of sun by the play area, the characteristic deep purple berries are evident by the end of August.

Bank of brambles bearing red and black berries
East Bank Todd's Pit - 20 September 2015

Less than a fortnight after the elderflowers, the brambles start their long flowering period (see post Summer Flowers), with the fruit ripening less than six weeks later.  As a result, I could have taken a picture like the one above just as easily in August.  I didn't because I waited to get an image of a bush laden with luscious fully ripe black blackberries.  After a month of trying, I realised that such an image is not possible, because almost as soon as the berries ripen they are eaten - mostly by humans.  So I settled for a bushful of most red but some black berries.

Next: Early Autumn