2nd September 2018
There is not a cloud all day and the evening is blue and clear; the low sun blinds the walk west and cuts cool shadows behind great beeches and bushes in equal measure. The green turf is a dulled, uniform olive and the swathes of bright yellow and pink flowers of summer have gone. Only blown thistle seeds coat the down. The hawthorns are yellowing and laden with cherry ripe berries. Most arable fields on the North Downs are freshly tilled and seeded; the straw gold of summer stubble has been swiftly displaced by the the comfortable brown coat of autumn.
A few ragged butterflies still fly over the turf at Queensdown Warren; a small copper hurries from plant to plant nectaring on wild basil and remnant marjoram, and there is a steady disturbance of little mint moths on a walk through the dying patches of tall herbs.
There is a healthy rash of small autumn lady’s-tresses this year after finding just one last year; the elegant twists litter the orderly turf like broken birthday candles, the small white flowers catching the evening light. The first autumn gentians are also present but much less obtrusively so.
The sea blue harebells remain captivating as they shake and wave in the cooling breeze but there is also a scattering of field scabious, ribwort plantain, stemless thistles and splashes of yellow from bird’s foot trefoil and the last common rock roses of the long, hot summer.