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Summer has ended and we’re well into autumn now. It’s easy for us to feel downhearted and get caught up in reminiscing about holiday fun and all of the bountiful harvests. Personally, I feel slightly nostalgic about the disappearing flowers and insects, especially the butterflies and ladybugs. However, there’s actually some really nice things that only appear during this time of year. For instance mushrooms, holly and Scotland’s emblem the thistle are all popping up, as well as vegetables and herbs such as artichokes and fragrant lavender.

My favourite thing about autumn is the changing colours- from green, to yellow, to orange and in some cases, some shades of pinks and purples and even my favourite, deep red.  The ivy in the photo below reminds me of my own childhood memories of autumn as a six year old running manically through leaves at the Royal Botanic Gardens.

Children playing at Pollok country park, Glasgow and an autumn day, Oct 15th 2016. Photograph by Colin Mearns

You could say it was nature’s sunset. Others would say it was nature’s spectacular, gentle firework display in celebration of a bountiful year of harvests. I’ve often wondered why trees put on such a beautiful display, so I did some foraging.

The trees slowly start to drag themselves to bed, so to speak, as winter approaches, and prepare to live off the food they so prudently stored for winter. As a result, their “food-making factories” i.e. photosynthesis, close for business and the colour-giving component chlorophyll starts to fade. As the green starts to dissipate, the other colours e.g. yellow, begin to surface – colours that have always been there – this is their time to shine through. For example, in maples, glucose is trapped in the leaves after photosynthesis stops and the reduced sunlight and cooler weather turn this glucose into red. Phenomenal, don’t you think? I’ve recently formed a bit of an obsession about autumn leaves. I’ve rather embarrassingly picked up a very old hobby of collecting them (defiling some books in the process).

My green man. Image by: Elena Petriconi

There is a host of other activities you can do to at this time of year. Gardening is a fantastic example. Personally, it’s very therapeutic and a good way of getting a break from technology. If this has inspired you to sprout or reignite your green thumb, I encourage you to take some time to help and sign our Edinburgh Pollinator Pledge. Even a few of the actions below would contribute towards the network for pollinators we’re trying to create.

 

 

Gardening can be a very good way to spend some relaxing quality time together, and there’s quite a number of other benefits for you as well which I’ll be writing about in a future blog post, so stay tuned! If you wish to spread the message please share a link of this blog to friends and family. If you have any photos you’d like to share with us please do so by using the hashtag #pollinatorpledge and you may get the chance for one of you photos to be included on our official website.

Happy planting!

 

Some useful links I have found this week:

Here are some top places to see autumn leaves: https://scottishwildlifetrust.org.uk/things-to-do/visit-our-reserves-and-visitor-centres/

Additional gardening and insect info: http://wildaboutgardens.org.uk/resources/leaflets/PollinatorProtectionPack.pdf

My favourite autumn activity: http://www.bbc.co.uk/gardening/gardening_with_children/homegrownprojects_leaf.shtml


Elena Petriconi