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Saturday, September 16, 2006

Highbury Colours

On a Saturday morning when Kings Heath High Street is jammed with shoppers and traffic, Highbury Park is, in contrast, notably placid. Ten cars in the parking area, some two dozen people out and about, including the volunteers participating in the tidy-up day, and about half as many dogs.

Early Autumn is a great time to stroll through the park, because the trees are starting to distinguish themselves through shades of yellow, red, and brown. I particularly like the eastern edge of the great meadow, where one beech tree sets itself in contrast to sycamores, horse chestnuts and other species, and where the ridge-and-furrow pattern is visible as bands of lighter and darker grasses.

There are other kinds of colour showing up. For example, there's this nice combination of green and blue on on of the new benches.

While the colours are nice, it's a bit sad that a) some people have nothing better to do, and b) that the new benches, signboards, and litter bins are such popular targets. That said, I suppose I'd rather see graffiti on these manufactured surfaces than on the trees. The fact that graffiti has accumulated is also indicative of management priorities. The parks service has been promising to get various bits of it cleared off for nearly two years now.

Back to the colour story. The Italian Garden has several stands of flowers in bloom. The most outstanding being these daisy, or daisy-like flowers, but also including something that I think of as amaranth - although I'm sure it's something else.

Elsewhere, another of my favourite trees is beginning to show some fall colour

I have heard that one of the ornamental trees in this grove is some hundreds of years old. I wish I could recall that more specifically. It reminds me, however, that there are plans to do a survey of 'veteran trees'. The idea is to have volunteers record the locations, species, and noteworthy conditions of trees throughout the park. This needs to be a volunteer effort as the Council keep diverting their tree surveying efforts to things like streets and highways. So there's no accurate record of what's in the park, despite it having a very diverse and possibly historic range of trees. There may be some discussion of this at the AGM (27/09/2006) of Highbury Park Friends, along with more controversial issues, like whether the Council plans to sell off Chamberlain House, what's happening with the park renovation scheme and the monies allocated for it.

In addition to colourful trees, benches and flowers, there's a nice bit of green on the pond.

I like this for the way it absorbs light, rather than reflects it. The flatness of colour contributes to a sense of richness, or even a sense of solidity. This could almost be solid ground of unexpected smoothness. That this is a study in green is made more evident by looking at it from another angle:

The few bits of brown and yellow really stand out when everything else is within a certain shade of green.

As for browns and yellows, we're about to see a lot more of those.

The scattering of leaves will soon become a blanket, and rain will turn them to mush. So it's nice to walk among the distinct bits of leaf litter while they retain their shapes and identities.

Between now and then, bits of colour like the red tinge on this (Dogwood?) and the new crop of crocus in the arboretum will add some other colours to the scene.


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