English weather paves way for spectacular autumn colour, experts say

2 people in forest

English weather paves way for spectacular autumn colour, experts say 

England’s refreshing spring with abundant rainfall and lower-than-average sunshine, combined with a record-breaking June with above-average sunshine, has paved the way for a spectacular autumn colour show say experts from Forestry England. 

Data from the Met Office shows that England’s wet spring saw rainfall 55% above the average across the UK during March, making it provisionally the 6th wettest March since records began in 1836.  This abundance of rain, however, has helped set the stage for a stunning display of colourful leaves in autumn according to Forestry England. This is because the rain provided plenty of moisture to the soil, which helps to promote strong and healthy growth. 

While the lower-than-average sunshine during March may have suggested a fainter display of colour this autumn, Forestry England predict that it will add a unique touch to the upcoming autumn transformation. The reduced sunlight will have influenced the process of photosynthesis during the beginning of spring but plenty of sunshine since has meant a good growing season for the nation’s forests, helping them build up plenty of the sugars which produce the stunning autumn reds, golds and oranges as they are absorbed back into the tree. Instead of following the usual pattern, the weather experienced in early spring could lead to a more gradual and enchanting shift in leaf colours this autumn, creating a beautiful mix of colours that are truly one-of-a-kind. 

The hot start to September could also have an impact on when we see begin to see autumn colours this year. If temperatures remain high, this can delay the onset of autumn and the subsequent colour change in leaves. Colour changes in tree leaves take place as the days become shorter and evening temperatures cool, with the green chlorophyll in the leaves starting to disappear, exposing yellow and orange hues. So, while the warm weather may slightly alter the beginning of autumn, it can also extend it, offering more chances for people to witness nature's splendid transformation. 

Andrew Smith, Westonbirt Arboretum director says: 

"It's amazing to see how all the different factors come together to create autumn colour every year. 

"While the wet spring and reduced sunshine may bring delightful surprises, other elements also play a significant role. Factors such as genetics, tree species, elevation, and local climate conditions all contribute to the magical spectacle. This combination ensures that the intensity and timing of the autumn colours remain a wonderful mystery every year." 

To increase the resilience of the nation’s forests in the fight against climate, Forestry England is planting diverse species of trees which will thrive in the climate conditions predicted over the next decades. Sycamore, wild cherry, hornbeam, small-leaved lime, and oak to name a few should also bring a riot of future autumn colour for visitors to enjoy well into the future. 

Notes to Editor 

  1. Images are available here. Please credit Forestry England/Crown copyright. 

  2. Forestry England manages and cares for the nation’s 1,500 woods and forests, with over 296 million visits in 2021/22. As England’s largest land manager, we shape landscapes and enhance forests for people to enjoy, wildlife to flourish and businesses to grow. We are continuing the work we have already started to make the nation’s forests resilient to climate change and by 2026 we will:    

  • create at least 6,000 more hectares where we integrate wilding activities in our productive forests.  

  • increase the diversity of visitors to the nation’s forests and have one million hours of high-quality volunteer time given to the nation’s forests.  

  • plant at least 2,000 hectares of new, high quality, predominantly broadleaf woodlands  

For more information visit forestryengland.uk. Forestry England is an agency of the Forestry Commission.  

Media Contact:  

Rebecca Ulewicz, Media Relations Officer: media@forestryengland.uk