The London Plane I have been ‘following’ during 2012 has been busy dropping its leaves like confetti at a wedding. The grounds surrounding are moving gently towards winter yet with an appreciation for autumn; I keep a tidy plot. I do however embrace the colour’s of autumn, and leave the leaves as long as I can. The Plane tree moreover treats us not only to an aerial display of colour, but a mottled carpet too; we just need a string quartet and some dancing fauns and the picture would be complete!
I feel the autumn colour is almost better from this plane tree when the leaves are sprinkled across the ground, with much colour variation across each huge palmate leaf - although naturally; the tree still looks stunning from across the lake.
The key to the autumn display is of course the sunshine, which breaks through the changing clouds to lift the whole scene. The other trees in the grounds, the mature ones at least, don’t provide one unified blast of autumn colour, but a more subtle mix. As some trees are loosing their foliage, some are only just changing, and whilst some fallen foliage lights up the ground, some darkens and shrivels into obscurity. I should also make mention of the Ash leaves, as whilst these also litter the ground untidily, it is with sadness I look on as their future is uncertain.
Many of the dropped leaves from the Plane are shredded by mowing, and many more are windblown across the east park – the west winds are very obliging in this matter. We don’t as a team ‘collect’ leaves for composting, as many of the areas eat leaves for a passion. Apart from the time to spend physically collecting the leaves; the machinery required to make a difference at a site the size of Compton Verney is mucho expensive! We do some shredding, lots of blowing, (with machines!) and the rest are consumed amongst the woodland garden; but in good time, we’ll be setting off down the collecting route – the leaf mulch will be worth the effort.
Of particular importance for the plane tree this year is its adoption - an offer from Compton Verney which as an organisation allows people the chance to adopt a tree for a one-off donation. Selected trees are listed for adoption, and the process provides income for the charity which in turn supports tree care. It is pure coincidence that in the year I chose to follow this particular tree, it was also chosen for adoption by a family. I was very touched to be included in a little gathering when the tree was adopted, and for the first time really made the connection between the family and their chosen tree. Whilst the black tag bears the usual tree type and number, it also bears a family name, which now gives the tree a human connection it didn’t previously hold. We don’t know who planted the tree two hundred years ago, and we shall probably never know, but for one family in particular, this Plane tree has now become a destination in itself, and has much more meaning as a result.
My 'tree following' year is a long way from being over, as I didn't start recording its progress until late winter this year. We have the unpredictable winter weather to survive, which I’m sure will take its frustration out on all the trees, but as we know, they are adapted to deal with such torture. It is quite normal to find a twig or two beneath the plane, and I’m sure I’ll find a few more over the coming weeks, let’s hope they are 'just twigs'!
Enjoy those autumn colours!