Updated: 30th October 2018
We're very lucky here on the reserve, to be able to watch the full turn of the year as the seasons come and go. Right now, outside the office window, the wind is blowing and beech leaves are spinning their way to the ground like speeding snowflakes. The lawn is already scattered with circles of multi-coloured leaves under the tree canopies, though these are steadily creeping outward as the breeze sweeps up the leaves and lets them go.
Each year, as late summer gives way to autumn, we are watchful for which way the autumn colours will go: will there be a rich and fabulous display of reds, purples and golds, or a faded tapestry of bronze, yellow and gilded browns?
What determines how the colours will turn and can it be predicted? It comes down to the chemical processes going on within the leaf.
Chlorophyll, the pigment that gives leaves their green colour during spring and summer, ceases to dominate as the days' light shortens, and the other pigments carotene (yellow) and anthocyanin (pink-red) have an opportunity to shine.
If the season change is slow, warm and sunny, the chances of a colourful display are good. But if autumn comes in cold, wet and grey, colours are likely to be muted and less showy. This year's hot, dry summer and gradual ease into autumn suggested the colours would be strong, and we are seeing this on the reserve. But the best way to know for sure would be to come and see for yourself on our open day on Sunday 28th October. Look up the details here, and watch this spaces for progress reports in the run up.
There's plenty of information available about trees and their life histories - here are some links to get you started:
Update: In spite of the changeable weather on sunday (including sun, rain & hail!), visitors enjoyed an afternoon stroll to take in the colourful autumn trees, shrubs and plants, before warming up with a cup of tea (and perhaps some cake) in the education centre classroom.
Children and adults alike were invited to join Amy around a camp fire on the reserve playing hoopla, whittling sticks and toasting marshmallows and teacakes. All in all, it was a lovely afternoon and we greatly appreciated everyone's support - from visitors and volunteers to trustees.