The Awe-tumn Equinox at Westonbirt Arboretum
By David Wood
Where: Westonbirt Arboretum, near Tetbury
When: Open daily from 9am to 4.30pm
Today (Monday) marks the autumn equinox when the fall season officially begins, and experts at Westonbirt, The National Arboretum are predicting it will be a sensational year for autumn colour.
The trees of Westonbirt Arboretum will soon come alive with dazzling displays of autumn colours, with vibrant reds, oranges and yellows creating a kaleidoscope of colour across the landscape - truly one of nature's most spectacular shows.
As the days grow cooler and shorter and the leaves receive less sun, chlorophyll (the chemical which is responsible for the green colour in most leaves) production shuts down, allowing other pigments within the leaves to show their colours.
Like an artist's mixing palette, the colour of the autumn leaves depends on the balance of pigments: carotenes creating oranges, xanthophylls resulting in yellows, and anthocyanins which give leaves a red hue.
Andrew Smith, Forestry England's director at Westonbirt, The National Arboretum said: "Our mild winter, combined with a mix of rain and sunshine over the summer means that the leaves have stored up plenty of sugars in their leaves, which is ideal for creating great autumn colour!
"It's also good news for local wildlife since the fruit and nut blossoms escaped an early frost and swelled throughout the sunny and wet intervals in summer, so there will be plenty of food for local insect and wildlife!"
Westonbirt Arboretum is internationally acknowledged to be one of the best places to experience autumn in the UK. With 15,000 trees and 2,500 tree species from all over the world, the national arboretum provides people with a unique opportunity to see both native and exotic trees putting on an amazing show!
Their collection of Japanese Maples, which create the vibrant red hues that Westonbirt Arboretum is so famed for, are particularly famous.
Though experts are unable to predict when exactly will be the best time to visit the National Arboretum to experience the fall colours, this year it is likely to be mid-October.
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