If last month the trees and hedges were starting to look somewhat faded and jaded, this month they are tumbling headlong into Fall. As my weather gallery shows, London has had virtually no rainfall for most of July. In the public squares, the hornbeam hedges are browning off so it was with some trepidation I visited Gordon Square and the specimen Carpinus betulus of my tree following year:-
And sure enough with sunlight glancing through the branches, the deep summery greens have turned pale, thinned out and the tree is displaying buff coloured clusters of what looks like dead leaves, spread throughout the canopy
But most of these are the maturing seedcases rather than desiccated foliage and remind me of the Sycamore’s key bunches. Zooming in, it looks as though the tree has decorated itself in garlands of dry flowers.
At the tree’s base, the undergrowth is dying back and ageing fast. Brambles have finished flowering but they have not fruited in this somewhat shady spot, although elsewhere this year, blackberries are already being harvested. Yesterday a short spell of rain brought brief freshness but it is too little too late for most of the trees, as evidenced by the depth of leaf litter.
Nevertheless the Hornbeam’s sucker (right of the trunk) is taking succour from the mature tree, enough at least to withstand the worst of the drought conditions.
In general, the trees of London’s squares are appearing in ‘Fool’s autumn’ colour. Wilting and dropping their leaves early to save water. Those less tolerant of drought such as birch, or the water-restricted street trees, have been first to show distress.