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September 2019

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brutti_ma_buoni in photo_scavenger

Autumn

A sad tale, this one. One of the UK's common ornamental deciduous trees, the horse chestnut, is suffering from a contagious blight that's turning all the leaves way before their time. It also weakens the trees, and when we lose them, it'll be a melancholy picture all over the country. I noticed in France that they have it too, so I'm guessing these trees will become rare if not vanish entirely. Very sad to contemplate.

It doesn mean, though, that there are already drifts of crispy leaves to photograph (some beech leaves too, in this one, but the fragile skeletal ones are horse chestnuts):





Most of our trees are just starting to turn, losing a small number of leaves. This is the horse chestnut which deposited most of those leaves!



This is what we'll miss most about the trees if they do all die: conkers. So pretty and shiny, though it's an early lesson in nature for all kids that if you take them home they lose that sheen within hours. Still, they are good for playing games with too!



This last photo doesn't quite work - I wanted to catch morning light by the river which was falling on just a few strands of these reddish plants, making them glow. But the camera couldn't pick it up, though you can tell from the weeping willow that there's sunlight around. It's also intended to show equinoctial tides: that puddle on the Thames path isn't due to rain, but to the river rising about as high as it ever does without an actual flood. The Thames is tidal right up through London, and the way the city looks changes so much when the river's very high or low.

Comments

We seem to have more dried out leaves than usual for this time of year, too - it hadn't occurred to me that they might all be horse-chestnuts.
I hope you haven't got this thing on the island yet - it's carried by the leaves, so there's no way of stopping the spread once a group of trees gets infected.

This was Strasbourg cathedral at the end of August: the little green street tree and the crisped-up chestnut:
Photobucket
It sounds sort of like Dutch Elm Disease, which decimated the elm population all over the US. I hope there are enough naturally resistant trees to repopulate once the plague has run its course.
I hate when that happens. I've read that dogwoods have a disease that may destroy the majority of them in our country.