An Autumnal Walk in Bluebell Wood

Ancient Oak in Bluebell Wood

Dear Readers, I have been to Bluebell Wood, close to Bounds Green station and the wonderful Sunshine Garden Centre, several times, and am always impressed by the magnificent oak and hornbeam trees. This is a tiny snippet of ancient woodland in a very surburban area, and yet it hints at what used to be – once upon a time, this woodland would have covered most of this part of North London, from Cherry Tree Wood in East Finchley to Coldfall Wood a little further north, before the forest faded into Finchley Common. Today, you were in danger of being bounced on the bonce by falling acorns – I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many as this produced as this year, maybe as a result of the earlier drought. There is a theory that when under stress, trees will produce more fruit and seeds because they fear that this year will be their last.

Some low dead hedges have been put in this year, presumably to protect the eponymous bluebells and other woodland flowers – I have certainly seen wood anemones here in previous years, and the additional footfall during Covid would meant much more trampling and soil compaction than in previous years. They wouldn’t keep a determined person or dog out, but they do give a ‘nudge’ in the direction of keeping to the paths.

There are a lot of leaves still to fall, but the leaf litter is already building up. Leaf fall provides an extraordinary amount of biomass every year which is recycled to feed the soil and all the detritivores that feed on rotting material.

On the way back to the garden centre, I was struck by the leaf colour in the front gardens. This Acer is stunning…

But there seems to be a fashion for Staghorn Sumac on this road, something I haven’t seen very much in other places. I wonder if someone planted one, and everyone else thought how splendid it looked in autumn?

And this is a very splendid smokebush (Cotinus), especially against the blue sky.

There are some very gravid spiders about too.

But what makes me really happy is this sign, because it shows that hedgehogs are finally coming back, even if they are at risk of being squished. How thoughtful to put up a warning! I hope that drivers pay attention.

And finally, as we walk back along the edge of the garden centre, the Pyracantha is magnificent. Will this be a waxwing year? These occasional migrants absolutely love these berries, and often turn up in hedges like this. Fingers crossed.


3 thoughts on “An Autumnal Walk in Bluebell Wood

  1. Liz Norbury

    The trees in my local wood are now turning golden, and I’m hoping they’ll be able to hang onto their leaves for a bit longer before they’re blasted by south-westerly gales. Even more than acorns, I’ve been dodging falling sweet chestnuts, which are now all over the ground.

    I must take a trip to Bluebell Wood next time I’m in north London. I’m surprised I didn’t know about it when I was growing up, as I often went to Durnsford Road swimming pool – now the Sunshine Garden Centre! – and the nearby Scout Park, where our Girl Guide group used to go on summer evening to cook sausages (we probably cooked other things as well, but I only remember the sausages!)

  2. Alittlebitoutoffocus

    By pure chance, I’ve been out for a walk today and I think I may have also taken a picture of a smoke bush, though mine is more purple than yours, so maybe it’s a different variety. I shall be posting pics shortly…😊


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