August 23rd – I don’t know what it is in the season, but the acorns this year are prolific and absolutely huge. With the dry summer I’d have expected the opposite, but they are absolutely huge.
The fecundity of the crop is, however, being affected by the large amount of knopper galls, that from from acorns attacked by the knopper wasp. Also a peculiar seasonal phenomenon, they are very,. very red this year, whereas it’s usually just tinges of colour.
September 26th – On my way home in the road in the backstreets of Walsall, I spotted these large acorns in unusually hairy cups. Not having seen the like before, I assumed there were some kind f insect gall.
Looking it up when I got home, these are actually the acorns f a turkey oak, and quite normal for the species. I’ve never seen them before, and they’re quite alien after the familiar gnarled, knobbly normal acorn cup one usually sees.
An interesting oddity.
August 8th – I felt it again today, that Autumn feeling. Just on the canal at Clayhanger the leaves aren’t even turning and the feathered water lilies are still perfection itself, but the honeysuckle going over, the acorns swelling on the trees and hard quality of the air made me think more of a clear day in October than August.
Is it me, or is anyone else feeling an early Autumn coming on?
September 4th – And then, there are the oaks I was concerned were lost. All the galls and nasties seem to have appeared long before the acorn crop I thought would not appear – there is now a stunning crop of tiny acorns growing well all along the canal at Clayhanger.
It’s good to see, and when they start to fall, I’ll gather them and spread the acorn love.
Never lose faith.
August 7th – This oak tree was spotted by the cycle way in Pelsall, and seems to be afflicted by the same ills befalling similar trees everywhere I go. The poor oaks this year seem to have few acorns, leaves dying off early and tiny, deformed acorns.
I hope this is an aberrant year and in seasons to come are better.
August 23rd – I had to pop into Aldridge on an errand, and so I took the canal. There’s an autumnal nip in the air, and everything is ripening. A fine crop of elderberries, blackberries and haws will make some fantastic pddings and wine, and the rosebay willowherb is demonstrating beautifully why it’s know as ‘old man’s beard’.
The only disappointment is the acorn crop, which is very, very bad. Only the second tree I’ve seen with any fruit this year – oddly, the acorns that grew are fat and in excellent shape, but the tree is mostly carrying the dead buds of undeveloped fruit. Most odd.
And then, that heron. He’s persistent, I’ll give him that. A fine bird.
August 5th – Another saying my Grandfather used to use a lot was ‘It’s always a good year for something.’ On this, the old man – who lived life much more connected to nature than I – was bang on. Every year, every season, is detrimental to something and benificial to something else.
This year we have an absolute wealth of early blackberries. They, sycamore, horse chestnut and beech appear to have done very well indeed. Oak and fruit seem to have had a very bad year. This is the first acorn I’ve seen – last year, the boughs were heavy with crab apples, damsons, cherries and acorns. This year, very few. Rowan, Hawthorn and cotoneaster seem to be doing reasonably well, though.
I guess it’s just how the weather falls. One late frost and the fruit crops are ruined…
September 14th – It usually takes a while for me to become comfortable with the presence of autumn, and this year it seems worse than ever. One of my favourite things that cheers me about this cruel season is collecting seeds of the deciduous trees – acorns, sycamore helicopters, conkers, rowan berries, beech mast and so on – by the pocketful, which I then randomly scatter on the margins I find; the commons, heaths, verges as I cycle past. This kind of guerrilla seeding is something I believe in, and lots of my friends have joined in with the practice. I’m sure I’m responsible for lots of the oak saplings on Clayhanger and Brownhills Commons.
This year, there is a huge, healthy crop of fat acorns. Grab some and spread the love.
I like to help the trees, because well, the trees need support.
September 22nd – a bright, sunshine autumn day. A ride through Staffordshire. My goodness, it was nippy as evening fell. It’s been one hell of a bad year for the oaks. I’ve previously recorded the absolute plague of knopper galls around Brownhills, devastating the acorn crop, and I’ve hardly seen any unharmed ones at all. Out in Staffordshire the story was the same. The ones that aren’t victim to the tiny, drilling wasp are small and sickly, affected by the lousy summer.
I hope they (and we) have a better time next year. To me, oaks are the epitome of the English tree, and when they suffer, I feel we all do a little bit.