The turning of the year

Flanders Moss NNR

The natural seasons are marked on a bog, and everywhere else, but small, gradual changes in the colour palette. A look at an old colour photo and, with experience, you could probably guess the month it was taken in from the hues and shades of the different plants. As they go through their growing season they are constantly changing colour, their different greens and browns across the months. And through the winter the dead plants change according to the stage of winter and the extent of frosts.

So, though it’s August and still summer on Flanders and the heather is creating its purple haze, the tapestry is changing. Plants are thinking of autumn coming up and are starting to change physiologically. A closer look as you go round the boardwalk reveals the small changes that go to make up the movement along the colour spectrum. A few leaves on the birch are dying off, some from a summer of munching from insects but others due to the shutting down process by the trees. One of the first to really fully change is the cottongrass. Banks of russet stems and leaves alongside open patches of water. The banks of bracken show the first licks of flame that by mid-autumn will be a configuration of vivid fronds. Cranberry berries gleam in the sphagnum carpet like rubies and the sphagnum itself seems to become richer is colour as the rest of the vegetation withdraws.

Some days might still feel like summer but autumn is creeping in on the bog already, a close look as you walk the path will reveal all.

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