Our back garden is all about texture at this time of year. Stripped of a season’s green frivolity, its skin is revealed.
In one corner sprawls a youthful crab apple. The bark still gleams in patches but shallow splits are forming down the main trunk. The brittle curling edges of each split are dusted with powdery mildew.
Under the apple, four oak logs are showing their age. The one I’m sitting on is partly covered with fleecy spearmoss. I lean on the moss, and notice that the imprint of my hand vanishes almost immediately when I lift it. Around me copper-coloured fungus is bursting through the bark in places and delineates the sapwood on the cut edge. My prodding finger finds the fungus’ fruits are woody but do yield a little. Through my hand lens, the bark texture resolves into minature valleys filled with tiny plants and bounded by sinuous mountain ranges.
Papery leaves have collected in piles around the logs. I reflect, as I do every year, on the futility of sweeping them up. Once the army of decomposers have done their work, there will be less to tidy in the spring.