If the year is a show then this year’s autumn has been a number worthy of London’s west end. The synchronicity of the leaf fall, the colours and, as with any good performance, lighting has been critical. When the low angled sunshine pierced the foliage is was as if the trees were lit from within.
In jettisoning their leaves, trees are preparing and protecting themselves from the coming winter. The yellows and browns are actually just the lack of green as the trees break down their life giving chlorophyll and store the nutrients in the trunk and deep underground, like a bear laying down fat for hibernation.
But for me the highlight of the seasonal palette is the fiery red, and that’s not merely the absence of another colour – that has to be made. The red colour comes from a pigment called anthocyanin which has been variously suggested as providing a tree with antioxidant protection, as being a means of attracting birds to feed on autumn berries or as an indicator of stress and poor soil conditions. Clearly there is more going on than purely a visual display for the benefit of leaf-peepers (yes – that’s a thing).
Regardless of the science behind it I have been enjoying the autumn in Devon this year. These photos were taken just before a storm blew in which has now shaken most of the leaves from these riverside trees. Autumn’s act is coming to an end, soon it will be time to look ahead to winter’s finale.