Waldeinsamkeit

I’ve been meaning to write something about Autumn for some time now. In the meantime, I’ve been taking photographs on my daily walk – which doesn’t half slow me down and knock off the heart points – and I hadn’t realised just how many photos I had in store. More than 200 when I sat down to start sorting and processing them. That was at the beginning of the week, which happens to be National Tree week. And I wanted my blog to be done for then, with all my photos in it. Well, it’s Friday and all my ideas are whizzing round my head, and I’ve got that feeling that Susie dent was talking about on Countdown – the one where you’re rushing around like a blue-arsed fly trying to get everything done to a deadline. I can’t remember the word for the emotion, but I certainly know the feeling

It’s not why I go into the park. It’s not why I take pictures of the trees. It’s not why I catalogue my pictures. I can hardly manage to be alone in the park with just the trees around me, but I can still get lost in the beauty of the trees and my surroundings and that’s what my title is about. It’s a German word that Susie Dent mentioned on Countdown about the sense of solitude in the woods. That’s not the same as loneliness – more a oneness with nature if you want to be a bit zen. You can aspire to that feeling of Waldeinsamkeit despite being in the middle of a city suburb if you concentrate on the trees and block the city out.

I stop, on my walks, because something about the trees catches my eye and then I want to record it and I want to do it in a particular way, so I take the time to try and do just that. And that’s what I get a lot of pleasure from- having a goal and then achieving it even if it is just a simple one. I can’t say that I accomplish it all the time with just a phone but carrying my camera bag around is getting harder.

So, my point is, I should chill. If I don’t get all my photos done for this week then so what? Every week is a tree week for me, even when I don’t post anything. If I haven’t posted anything I will have photographed something. If I haven’t catalogued those photos, they’re still in date order and I’ll get round to them some time. I need to chill and be more like a tree, no more rushing around.

What I have done, though, is record a lot of changes in the park. In doing so I’ve also come across trees that had hitherto gone unnoticed. Such as the White mulberry tree, in the Heather beds, the persimmon tree by the car park and a small Field maple down by the railway lines. It was only the colour changes that brought these trees to my attention, especially the Field maple which just seemed to jump out from the background.

The Mulberry and Persimmon trees have lost most of their leaves now.

Although there have been some striking yellows in many of the trees there have also been some vibrant oranges. Not least in the two beeches at the front of the park, near the vehicle entrance and one further along the drive. I also particularly like the way the sunlight played through the beech leaves in the trees at the bottom of the park, near the railway lines, the bright orange seemed rather strange as this tree started out with purple leaves in April, which were dark green most of the year and now this lovely light orange. Another striking Beech tree is the Weeping beech alongside the path near the old tennis courts; its leaves producing a cascade of lime greens, yellows and oranges.

Two other trees that have intrigued me, alongside the path by the old tennis courts have some nice orange leaves at the moment. I think they are a type of beech tree, possibly Roble beech, but my plant app also identified them as Chinese elm or Californian scrub oak so I’m none the wiser at the moment.

Also rocking the orange is the large cherry tree near the old tennis courts, towards the basketball area. Then if you carry on along that path, down the hill you’ll find an American sweet gum (Liquidambar styraciflua) that is orange to red. It took its time to change but it was worth the wait and is showing off its colours whilst the other two sweet gums have lost virtually all their leaves now.

There are a lot of birch trees that are various shades of yellow and they are especially nice if you manage to get them highlighted against a bright blue sky.

It’s amazing how quickly some of the trees lost their leaves. Some seem to change colour and drop their leaves all in the space of a few days, like the snake bark maple by the bowling green. It lost half of its leaves early on, possibly due to stress from the summer drought then the other half stayed green right up to the end of November, suddenly changed to yellow and immediately started dropping. The pictures of the Manna ash, below, are taken just two days apart and show a marked difference. The tree is devoid of leaves now.

Sweeping up the leaves is keeping the park staff busy but in the meantime they produce colourful litter on the ground. I snapped a few pictures of the leaves on the ground and in the tree as we were walking the path below the colour garden. There are six large trees along that path – oak, copper beech, Norway maple, copper beech, oak, oak as you walk away from the Thrive garden. They have provided an immense amount of pleasure over the year and this is one of the places in the park that can provide that Waldeinsamkeit. It’s a bit out of the way, a bit quieter than the rest of the park, these trees seem to wrap around you providing a canopy over the path and the sunlight through the branches can be quite magical. Things that are hard to capture in a photograph and often you just need to put the phone/camera down and take it all in and relax, let it flood over you.

But, anyway, here are my pictures from that area.

At the front end of the park near the busy roads I had been keeping my eye on one particular tree, waiting for it to change colour and shed its leaves. It’s a Dawn redwood and when I first came across it, I didn’t realise it was deciduous, so it took me a while to figure out which tree it was in February. Anyway, it led me to find another little tree that I’d overlooked, a Norway maple that had some nicely coloured leaves. I just like the way the colours were graduated within some of the leaves.

But the tree I have been keeping my eye on the most is the swamp cypress at the bottom end of the park. I’ve been taking photos of it every few days since mid-October. Not very methodically, in a regularly timed sort of way but the idea was to see the colour change and then the leaves drop. The process is not yet over so I may be adding photos to this slideshow for a while after I publish this blog. Why this particular tree? One; we walk past it every day. Two; my wife likes this tree a lot. Three; it’s another tree that has had me fooled – I thought it was a Larch at first; no-one said I was a tree expert.

There are lots more trees that I could mention and perhaps should mention, and I would have but I should’ve started sooner. Or I should’ve learned to type faster, but I didn’t so I’m just going to add a couple more pictures, then I’m gonna chill. The pictures are of an Indian horse chestnut, they produce their conkers a couple of months later than the regular ones and the ones I picked up the other day are much darker than the ordinary ones. The cases are smooth too, no spikes.

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