It was a dull day when I went to review the Hornbeam of Gordon Square and the tree reflected the mood of the weather. It was looking somewhat disconsolate too since on the other side of the wrought iron railing there is now a hive of road digging, workmen and the noise of heavy machinery. Such is the life of an urban tree!
Evidently the overhang was in the way of the road works as several branches had been cut and cast down amongst the deepening leaf litter. At least it gave me the opportunity to look at them in more depth since the branches themselves are above camera eye level.
Grey and hairy is the description for twigs of Carpinus betulus though the hirsuteness was not noticeable to my eyes. What is evident however is the 50-50 ratio between green and yellowing leaves as chlorophyll recedes and carotene remains as citrine hues.
Hornbeams are renowned for the loveliness of their yellow autumn leaves but fall colour depends on many factors and London 2014 does not seem to be a particularly good year for such display.
“The brightest autumn colors are produced when dry, sunny days are followed by cool, dry nights.”
So far October has been relatively mild, very wet and windy, and ripping the most reluctant foliage from its grasp. In the fullness of fall colour when the sun shines, perhaps there will be enough leaves left for the Hornbeam to glow. Meanwhile it reposes in the quietude of in-betweeness, leaving little to report and document, though it is always a pleasure to see.
The Chemistry of Autumn Colours