Woodlands in Autumn- Susan Catford

At this time of the year, many wild flowers have disappeared but there are always other interesting things to see. The trees have not yet taken on their Autumn colours but there are flashes of colour below like the red-berried cuckoo-pint plant and the pretty blue cornflowerlike flowers of the Devil’s-bits scabious ( interesting name for a very delicate flower!).

The teasels have lost their purple flowers but their spiky heads on tall stalks create a distinctive profile against the sky and they are excellent for dried flower arrangements.

At ground level there is also an interesting array of fungi appearing. With a whole variety of shapes and colours they are all attractive in their own way. They vary from the plain brown speckled ones to the more colourful and exotic such as the chicken in the woods. This is a flattish fan-shaped toadstool which grows in layers on the trunks of trees. Many of us will recognise the oyster mushroom but less well-known is the enokitake-a very small toadstool with long stalks and small caps like buttons. Many have lovely names like the shaggy parasol, the clustered bonnet (long stalks with ‘hats’), the shaggy inkcap (looks like a bad hair day!), the common puffball and fly agaric (red and white spotted ones often depicted in children’s books!). There are many more, some edible, some not! For those who fancy foraging for food, best to check them out first.

For safe eating, there are always plenty of brambles bearing juicy blackberries and also pears, damsons, apples and plums if you know where to look!