Speaking in strictly meteorological (rather than political or economic) terms, autumn 2022 has been kind to us with warm, sunny days and cooler evenings — ideal conditions for a brilliant autumn show.
There isn’t a park or street without some autumn colour creeping in.
You don’t need to look far — there are as many trees as there are people in London.
Here’s my autumn colour bingo card for London’s most spectacular trees and plants.
Boston Ivy/Virginia Creeper
Parthenocissus tricuspidata / Parthenocissus quinquefolia
Not a tree but a climber. The two species are similar but Boston Ivy has three leaf lobes whereas Virginia Creeper has five. Both sprawl to smother whatever they can; sometimes a headache but it’s more welcome at this time of year as the leaves magically transform from green to ruby red.
Maidenhair Fern Tree
A tree that has fared very well in our hot, dry city summer, apparently unfazed. This comes as no surprise; the tree is a living fossil. According to Kew, it has outlived the dinosaurs. This time of year the leaves turn from a soft green to bright, buttery yellow.
Sweetgum trees have similar leaves to maple trees, with a more silvery bark. At this time of year they perform quite a transformation, going through green, yellow, purple, red and finally orange before falling from the tree.
A lot of the time, and bizarrely, you’ll see parts of the tree change colour before others.
Prunus avium, Prunus serrulata
If you couldn’t resist taking photos of the spring blossom, scroll back to work out where you were when you took all those beautiful pictures in the spring. Head back there now to see all the colours of a sunset in the trees’ autumn leaves. Many of London’s terraced streets are lined with cherry trees.
Fraxinius angustifolius ‘Raywood’
Ash trees are having a hard time. Ash dieback, a fungus, is causing many ash trees to look sickly and in many cases die. It might be too soon to make an observation, but the Claret ash trees I’ve seen in London appear unaffected by the fungus. As the name suggests, the leaves are transformed to an amazing purple in autumn.