The golden days of autumn as the leaves change colour are a result of a wonderful combination between daylight hours, a drop in chlorophyll and the biology and pigmentation changes within the trees. There are three main pigments that show their colours in autumn – chlorophyll (green), carotenes (yellow) and anthocyanins (reds and pinks), and this year is producing a particularly spectacular display.
After the warmth of summer, the cold nights degrade the chlorophyll so the leaves fade from green to yellow, but as long as there’s no freezing temperatures the red and pink pigments are enhanced. And whilst the trees stop producing chlorophyll, any remaining chlorophyll continues photosynthesis on sunny autumn days and the sugar increasing in the leaves creates more of the red and pink pigment.
At long last it seems we are waking up to the extraordinary delight we get from a walk in the woods. And any time of year yields its wonder, but on the estates carriage paths that wind through the stunningly varied woodland there really is the most astonishingly beautiful display this year.
Perhaps a walk in the woods should be added to our five a day. I am sure that it would make so many of us enjoy a higher sense of wellbeing