Early autumn is a great time to hunt for fungi, so I have spent some time searching for the most atmospheric of all, red and white spotted toadstools, in all the likely and less likely places I could think of near where I live. As often happens, when I was not searching, I glanced up and had the thrill of seeing twenty or thirty of them growing on a hillside in a narrow strip of mixed, light woodland on the edge of peaty moorland.
Toadstools are the fruiting bodies of underground mycelial networks. Happy to return to earth, they emerge only briefly after a rain, swelling rapidly to full size then rotting back after releasing spores from white gills on the undersides of their caps.
Dawn Miller is hosting a weekly Festival of Leaves challenge to celebrate autumn that will run for the next 10 – 12 weeks. I’d have felt more concerned my first offering might not count, being counterfeit autumn leaves, had Dawn’s first not been chrysanthemums.
While your eye may naturally pick out the flowers, when I was face-to-face with this memorable landscape, I marvelled at that long, structured wall of tree trunks and re-purposed construction materials in the background. The fauna wall was by far the biggest insect hotel I’d ever seen.