Posted by: christinelaennec | November 10, 2010

The colours that were there all along

I was very struck by something that Carol Klein said on a recent Gardener’s World programme.  She was looking at acers – maple trees to you and me – and commenting on the gorgeous colours that they turn at this time of year.  Stopping at a branch that was partly green, partly gold, and partly russet, she said something like, “Actually, the trees aren’t turning a different colour.  The green is just fading away to show us the colours that were there all along.”  (She then went on to give a potted scientific explanation that I can’t sum up for you.)

Fall colors by the side of the street, 1st November 2010

I love the idea that fall isn’t so much a season of decay as of revelation.  When next spring comes, I’ll rejoice in the fresh green around me, but I’ll remember that there’s also yellow, orange and red underneath the green I can see.

Her remark also reminds me about how we think of people.  We use the expression “to reveal one’s true colours” in a negative way:  we thought someone was nice and then discovered that their real self was nasty.  But in fact, a lot of times – most times? – it’s the other way around:  we realise that someone is more generous or good than we’d thought at first.

Here’s to showing one’s true colours!



  1. love this post! I remember learning that in school about leaves…what a great analogy with people. thanks for sharing.

    • Oh I’m so glad! I always wonder, when I post these rather random thoughts, whether it’s just me that finds them interesting.

  2. Thank you. I’m just watching that very episode right now.

    I was struck by the fact that sycamores are also maples! I’ve only recenly seen maples in the wild and noted their sycamore style seeds. I thought they were pretend maples, sycamores in dusguise. But no, this makes perfecct sense now.

    I was so excited by Carol saying you can grow from seed that I sent an email straight away to my wife in Korea to go and collect some seeds on her next run round Seoul.

    • Dear Nick,
      I too had always thought that sycamores were fake maple trees. I wonder if you can make sycamore syrup? I enjoyed looking at your blog, particularly your thoughts on why science and faith should not be enemies. Maybe the changing colour of the trees is along those lines: you can explain what happens scientifically, but the colour change can also signify lots of other things about faith, reality, consciousness and so on.

  3. I have an allotment on roughwood drive northwood kirkby it is an comunity allotment and i am having the local schools there this year. so i have took one of my rotations and maid it into an miney allotment for the kids for the last few years the kids have been coming to the allotment and doing seeds and the seed that they sow gets bined and thats sad so this year i am giveing up some of my allotment for them and i am going to let them sow the seeds and the get them to plant them and they can then see them grow that will be alot better for them and thay can even take them home or back to the school that will be plants aswell thanks northwood kirkby allotments.

    • Hello Joseph, thanks so much for your comment. The work you’re doing with the children is so important. I plant nasturtium seeds in our church garden with the children in the Sunday School, and it’s amazing how little some of them know about the basics of growing things! I bet you’ll have some “budding” -ha ha – gardeners up at your allotment. Enjoy!

      • Yes we like the kids to get there hands dirty. Thats the good thing about doing the small the small plot for them. They can sow the seeds in the pollytunel. And then pot them on . And then put them into there owen plot and see them grow that whuld be grate for them . And they can get to no the soil aswell. And to learn about all the plant aswell. And then thers us aswell. We dont stop lerning aswell. I just hope this is going to be a good year for northwood kirkby comunity allotments. Thanks for your reply christinelaennec.

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