This year has been the best I can remember down by the river for autumn colour. The trees have not only put on a colourful display but a long lasting one. We’re almost in December (yes I know, I’m not organized either) and yet all of the trees down by the river have some leaves left and many are in still in their full, spectacular autumn best. The dry weather (until the last few days), cool nights and sunny days all create the best conditions for the best displays.
The science of it is fascinating. Briefly chlorophyll, the green pigment that creates the usual summer leaf colour, is made in much lower quantities when the days shorten. This means the sugars and other substances present in the leaves all year round (that give us the reds and yellows) become visible. With a dry spell these sugars become more concentrated in the leaves and so colours even more vivid.
With storm Angus due to arrive in Surrey over the weekend I took one last autumn photo expecting the wind and rain to put an end to the display but it is still going (fairly) strong. Even on a grey, rainy day when I haven’t slept for more than 2 hours in one go for a 2 nights straight due to the angry weirs, it’s still a joy to see the trees. Over the last couple of days I’ve seen them by torchlight, first light, moonlight as well as soggy day light and in all their moods they cheer mine.
That’s not to say I don’t love them when they finally shed their leaves and make spectacular shapes against the winter skies. That’s the great thing about nature, there is always something to look forward to just around the seasonal corner.