Tuesday 6 October

Fallen autumn leaves underfoot in the Sheffield Park woodlands

Around Sheffield Park this week, autumn's ever-shifting pattern of colour is charging full steam ahead. No two days are the same as our many species begin to burst into colour. This week our Ranger, Martina, picks out some of her favourite autumn colour sights to be found on the woodland floor. Plus hints on how the autumn colours are looking in the gardens right now.

Autumn ambles in the woods
- by Martina Gorla, Ranger

Our woodlands here at Sheffield Park offer a sheltered autumn stroll off the beaten track. Immerse yourself in Walk Wood or head to one of the tolls on the parkland. Colours, smells and sounds come together to celebrate those last moments of glory before we enter the dormant season.
 

Fly agaric mushroom close up, Lake District

Fly agaric

Fungi, the most colourful inhabitants of the woods, are currently making their appearance, and even more so after the recent refreshing rainfalls. Now is a great time to come along and spot them.

The iconic fly agaric (Amanita muscaria) is particularly striking now around the woods, with its white-spotted, scarlet-red appearance. It can be easily found at the base of different conifer species, such as pine and fir, with which it forms symbiotic relationships.

Yellow stagshorn fungi in the woodlands at Sheffield Park

Yellow stagshorn

Another easily spotted fungus is the eye-catching yellow stagshorn (Calocera viscosa), which looks a bit like a coral. It's name has a Greek origin and means “beautiful and waxy”, thanks to it's pretty yet greasy texture. The yellow stagshorn grows on wood, thus contributing to the degradation of old wood lying on the forest floor.

sweet chestnuts

Sweet chestnuts

If you keep your eyes to the forest floor, you may come across some prickly, green cases which contain precious sweet chestnuts. These nuts are edible to humans and can be roasted or used for other recipes. Squirrels are gluttonous too!

Cyclamen decorating the woodland floor at Sheffield Park

Cyclamen

Bright pink ivy-leaved cyclamens (Cyclamen hederifolium) decorate the base of some of the trees in the garden. They are an important nectar source for the last bees around.

Around the gardens

Leaves and lakes in October at Sheffield Park
Leaves and lakes in October at Sheffield Park
Leaves and lakes in October at Sheffield Park

The trees and shrubs in the gardens are now quickly marching towards their autumn splendour. Our famous Nyssa sylvatica 'Sheffield Park' trees are starting to show the first flecks of bright red and the pools of colour amongst the greens are growing by the day. 

Bright yellow of a betula tree in the gardens at Sheffield Park
Bright yellow of a betula tree in the gardens at Sheffield Park
Bright yellow of a betula tree in the gardens at Sheffield Park

One of the most dramatic trees currently is the Belula lutea. You can spy the bright leaves if you peer through the trees from reception diagonally between the entrance and exit.