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‘Spectacular’ autumn colour display could be on the way

Written by on 6 October 2020

A “spectacular” natural display of autumn colours could be on the way after September’s fine weather.

Beautiful vistas are predicted despite the heavy rain and strong winds that battered much of the country over the past weekend.

The National Trust said the recent warm weather, coming after six months with lots of sunshine, means trees should put on a great display of colour as their leaves turn.

But it cautioned settled weather is needed over the next two weeks.

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The red leaves may be brighter this year, as seen in Victoria Park, Bath

Its experts said while there was a very dry spring, “classic” summer weather gave most trees a good chance of keeping their leaves on until the colour starts to develop as temperatures drop.

This is because the levels of sunlight increased the sugar content of leaves, which results in a variety of colours including reds, oranges, browns and golds as the green chlorophyll breaks down.

BRIGHTON, UNITED KINGDOM - AUGUST 07: Brighton beach is packed as the South of England basks in a summer heatwave on August 07, 2020 in Brighton, United Kingdom. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
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The ‘spectacular’ colours would be due to six months of sun, the Trust said

For the particularly picturesque scenes to happen, there needs to be no intense storms or rainfall, the National Trust added.

Simon Toomer, the organisation’s plant specialist, said: “Autumn in the northern hemisphere is one of the natural world’s great spectacles.

Trees on Derwent Reservoir in the Peak District hold on to their Autumn colours as weather experts predict a cold spell of weather across the UK in the coming weeks.
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The good weather will help trees hold their leaves, like these in the Peak District

“It starts in the far northern deciduous forests and progresses southwards to the warm temperate regions over about a 10-week period.

“Our northern gardens and woodlands are therefore a week or two ahead of the most southerly.”

Autumn leaves along the River Tweed in the Scottish Borders.
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The process starts sooner in the north, like the Scottish Borders

He added that while day length is the primary trigger for trees shutting down for the winter and shedding their leaves, weather conditions throughout the summer and early autumn affect the rate of leaf loss and intensity of colour.

According to Mr Toomer, the best-known places for autumn colour are North America and Japan, and many National Trust parks and gardens have 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.”