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Kent Alpine Gardener's Diary

This entry: 23 November 2014 by Tim Ingram

Images of the Blean in Autumn

Images of the Blean in Autumn

The Blean near to Canterbury, which I described back in April when the woodland anemone is in bloom, is astonishingly beautiful at present in its autumn garb. It is immensely varied with a wide mix of trees, especially beech (above) which has amongst the warmest and most glorious of all autumn colour and oak which often turns a rich rusty-brown.

The colours in these photos are a little (but not too much) exaggerated - for the technically minded using a 'Velvia' setting on a Fuji XE-1 camera, set mostly to f20 aperture to give maximum depth of field (on that most versatile of 'Benbo' tripod). The low afternoon light accentuates the colours even more. With birch and hazel and bracken turning as well and still plenty of green it makes a wonderful place to walk through in November, even without a camera!

These woods can seem quite dry in summer with just a few streams that run year round, but with the autumn rains and cooler weather the ditches fill up and can result in marvellous reflections on a still bright day.

The wood of course has a very long history of management and it is good to see this continuing in the modern age even though the commercial demand for timber is much different than in the past.

The area shown below - rather like another that I illustrated back in the spring - is being cleared and coppiced, with a few larger trees left, opening up the wood and maintaining that diversity of habitat for wildlife and plants and also for those of us who enjoy walking here so much.

Birch sometimes makes large and solitary specimens amongst the oaks and underlying chestnut coppice, or in places almost a surreal monoculture of seeded trees.

Occasionally young plants of River or Red Birch (Betula nigra) grow in ditches alongside the forestry tracks, with rich reddish-brown bark.

These woods are worth more of a photographic essay through the seasons, so may feature again and especially when they come in to growth next spring. They extend over 3000 hectares (11 square miles) with many outlying and connected smaller woodlands, so there is still plenty to explore!

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