Great news for autumn lovers, experts from Forestry England are predicting a fantastic autumn, with an impressive display of vibrant autumn colours that will start now and continue right through to mid-November. For spectacular autumn colour, trees need a healthy balance of sunlight and rain to produce sugars, which create the colours in the leaves.
Many of us were left feeling soggy at the start of the summer and data from the Met Office confirms that England experienced a spell of very wet weather in mid-June, with some parts of the UK receiving 2.5 times the monthly average rainfall. However, rain twinned with the sunshine that we experienced for much of July is a promising recipe for a spectacular show of seasonal colour in the nation’s woodlands this autumn.
There is also great news for our forest wildlife, with experts predicting a bumper year for fruit and nuts. Andrew Smith, Forestry England’s director at Westonbirt, The National Arboretum in Gloucestershire explains ‘The fruit and nut blossoms managed to escape the frost in early spring and the rain in June has helped the fruits to swell. July’s sunshine and warm weather helped them to continue to grow which means we should see a great year for fruit and nuts. The same weather conditions are ideal for producing sugar in leaves which is further reassurance that it will be a brilliant year for autumn colour!”
To ensure that we have fantastic autumn colour for years to come, this September, tree experts from Forestry England will visit Japan to collect seeds from the wild as part of ongoing conservation work. Daniel Luscombe, Forestry England’s Collections Manager, Bedegbury, The National Pinetum and Forest explained ‘We will be visiting Japan in early autumn collecting seeds from native Japanese trees with a focus on the conifers whilst working with various botanic gardens and forestry departments in the country. This is so we can keep our great looking trees, resilient to climate change, well into the future. Several of the Japanese species we will be collecting are at risk of going extinct and many of the maples we are hoping to collect will either be new to Westonbirt Arboretum and Bedgebury Pinetum or will be providing the next generation of trees for visitors to enjoy, say in a 100 years’ time. The autumn colour over in Japan will be stunning and seeing how trees grow together in the wild gives us ideas and inspiration on how to use them to shape our landscapes.’
During the season, Forestry England is encouraging visitors to woods and forests to document their autumn discoveries by posting images of autumnal colour on social media channels using the hashtag #autumnleafwatch.
With more than 1,500 forests and woods in England and over half of the population living within six miles of their nearest forest, there are ample opportunities to get out and enjoy the beautiful wash of colour and the crunch of dry foliage underfoot over the autumn months.
For more information on how to experience autumn in a forest near you visit www.forestryengland.uk/autumn.