Leaf the grey skies behind! Britain is set for a spectacular autumn with colours even more glorious than usual, experts predict
- High levels of sunshine are likely to create an intense and vibrant range of hues
- Sun’s rays raise the sugar content in leaves, boosting production of pigments
- However the next two weeks must remain settled to encourage this to happen
Forget the deluge of the past few days – because the colours of autumn that lie ahead are expected to be even more glorious than usual this year.
The high levels of sunshine through the summer and into September are likely to create an intense and vibrant range of hues, say experts at the National Trust.
Maple trees are already turning red and orange, with ash, cherry and oak trees increasingly going amber and russet.
The sun’s rays raise the sugar content in leaves, boosting production of pigments called anthocyanins which turn plants a vivid red and pink. So thanks to high levels of sunshine over six months, followed by a bright spell at the end of September, the chances of a ‘spectacular and prolonged’ autumn display have been raised.
The high levels of sunshine through the summer and into September are likely to create an intense and vibrant range of hues, say experts at the National Trust. Pictured: Winkworth Arboretum, Surrey
However the next two weeks must remain settled to encourage this to happen. It comes after large parts of the country sustained heavy rainfall over recent days, bringing flooding and travel chaos.
Simon Toomer, a plant specialist at the National Trust, said: ‘Autumn in the northern hemisphere is one of the natural world’s great spectacles.
‘It starts in the far northern deciduous forests and progresses southwards to the warm temperate regions over about a ten-week period. Our northern gardens and woodlands are therefore a week or two ahead of the most southerly.’
Among the best sights in autumn are larch trees, which turn yellow, dawn redwoods, which become a brownish red, and the transformation of the Japanese red maple to become purple. Pictured: Winkworth Arboretum, Surrey
He added: ‘North America and Japan are the best-known global hotspots for autumn colour and we are lucky that many of our gardens and parks have many trees from these areas. This variety of species ensures a long and very colourful display and this year, with favourable weather conditions, the show should be spectacular.’
Among the best sights in autumn are larch trees, which turn yellow, dawn redwoods, which become a brownish red, and the transformation of the Japanese red maple to become purple. Grand oaks and sweet chestnuts drop carpets of leaves, perfect for children to kick through on a country walk.
Cold nights are vital to enhancing autumn colour, as low temperatures destroy the chlorophyll which give leaves their green colour, so that they fade to yellow. Experts are hoping for an October without heavy winds and storms, which knock leaves off branches before they have the chance to change colour.
The graphic shows recommendations from National Trust gardeners which will bring you a blaze of colour
Adding ornamental plants such as daffodils and petunias to your front garden can lower stress levels and help you feel happier, study shows
By Ian Randall for MailOnline
Growing just a few ornamental plants — such as daffodils or petunias — in a bare front garden can make people feel happier and less stressed, a study found.
Experts led from the Royal Horticultural Society planted blooms including azaleas, clematis and lavender in yards in low-income areas of Salford, Greater Manchester.
They then monitored the stress levels of the residents participating in the study — and explored how the additions to their gardens made them feel.
Growing just a few ornamental plants — such as daffodils or petunias, pictured — in a bare front garden can make people feel happier and less stressed, a study found (stock image)
The researchers recruited 42 residents — involving a total of 38 gardens — for the study, although some received their plants only after a year as so that they could serve as a control group in the meantime.
Residents were each given one tree, one shrub, one climber and enough smaller plants, bulbs and bedding plants to fill two containers.
They were not required to look after the plants, as the containers could ‘self water’ as they had a 22-litre in-built reservoir — the participants were encouraged to take part by gardening their plot, with help from the Royal Horticultural Society advisors.
The team measured each residents’ levels of key stress response hormone cortisol both before and after the plants were added.
They found a higher proportion of healthy daytime cortisol patterns after planting, suggesting that the residents had a better health status.
The research found that only 24 per cent of residents had healthy cortisol patterns before the plants went in, but over the year following the greening of the front gardens, this increased to 53 per cent.
More than half of the residents in the trial said that their new garden helped them to feel happier, while two-fifths reported that the garden help them to relax and just over a quarter said that it helped them to get closer to nature.
Residents were each given one tree, one shrub, one climber and enough smaller plants, bulbs and bedding plants to fill two containers (middle and left) to add to their bare gardens (right)
In-depth interviews concluded that the garden motivated people to do more gardening and renovate other areas of their property.
Residents also reported feeling the garden relaxing, adding that it gave them a sense of pride in their home, while all of them noted that the plants made them feel more cheerful and lifted their spirits when they looked at them.
‘We can now further evidence the vital need to incorporate plants into our front gardens and domestic spaces,’ said paper author and Royal Horticultural Society well-being fellow Lauriane Suyin Chalmin-Pui.
‘This will require a change in the way we strategize, design, plan and build our living spaces,’ she added.
‘The stress reduction data is startling, in that we found such a significant response with just a relatively small number of plants.’
‘Now we know that access to even a tiny patch of nature has beneficial effects for our health. Re-greening our neighbourhoods is really important.’
‘So many millions more people [are] gardening after discovering a passion to grow during lockdown, said the Royal Horticultural Society’s Alistair Griffiths.
‘The RHS hopes this research inspires more people to plant a few plants — from containers and window boxes to hedges and trees — in their street-side outside spaces,’ he added.
‘This research highlights the essential role of private gardens and the horticulture and landscape industry in delivering natural capital that improves the health of our nation.’
The full findings of the study were published in the journal Landscape and Urban Planning.
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