Autumn is getting close to its end, but there is still some fabulous displays of colourful leaves to be found and if you are wanting to make the most of the season, check out Forestry Commission England ‘Colour me Happy’ trail. With lots of fun activities to help discover the sights, smells, sounds and tastes of autumn, the trail is designed to get you outside this autumn with a big colourful bang!
And if that’s not enough, for even more fun in the forest you can download their free activity pack – jam-packed with a variety of activities guaranteed to keep the children coloured happy this autumn. We brought some autumn bounty home from our latest forest visit (we are Forestry Commission bloggers and love to get outside and enjoy the seasons in our local forest) to make some seasonal arts and crafts.
The Forestry Commission have also set up a live stream on Facebook to capture the weird and wonderful ways people would react to a pile of leaves if they didn’t think anyone was watching. The public did not disappoint, as the pile was not left alone, as children played with the leaves encouraged by their parents.
Live stream is on YouTube here: https://youtu.be/wifta-SP_58
Leaf Cam was set up following research by the Forestry Commission which found:
- A third (29%) of British parents claim that their children are missing out on the enjoyment of playing with a pile of leaves, a part of autumn that they enjoyed as a child
- 92% of people feel happy when thinking of autumn
- 68% said that autumn was their favourite season
Does seeing the lovely leaf colours make you feel good? I certainly love to see them and it’s certainly acts as a consolation as summer drifts away. In a recent survey carried out by Forestry Commission England a staggering 96% of people said that beautiful autumn colours improve their mood.
During the spring and summer months, leaves are filled with green chlorophyll which helps trees to harness the sunshine and turn it into sugars (plant food). To survive the winter, most trees will shut down to store their sugars. A cork-like membrane develops between the branch and the leaf stem, depriving the leaves of nutrients and breaking down the chlorophyll.
The yellows of autumn leaves come from xanthophyll pigments and can be seen throughout autumn in a variety of trees including birches, beeches, ashes and field maples. Egg yolks are yellow because of the xanthophyll in plant products, eaten by the hens.
Orange comes from beta carotene – one of the most common compounds in plants. One of the best trees to see carotene in action during autumn is sweet chestnut. Carotene, as its name suggests, is also the chemical responsible for giving carrots their bright orange colour.
The red colour is unlike other leaf colours as it hasn’t always existed in the leaf. The colour is caused by anthrocyanin pigments which are formed by a reaction between sugars and certain proteins in cell sap.If the sap is quite acidic, the pigments impart a bright red colour. If the sap is less acidic, then the resulting colour is purple. Japanese maples produce plenty of anthrocyanins and have very bright red leaves.
For our top 10 autumn walks and further information about events and exploring England’s Woods and Forests this autumn, visit www.forestry.gov.uk/autumn.