BLOG: Ready for the autumn spectacle?

13 September 2018

Every year autumn comes around as a treat to our senses before the dark winter looming ahead of us, and a marked difference to the blooming verdant greenery of summer, now behind us.

And despite the impending winter, the jewel-coloured leaves make our hearts sing as they turn deep russets, reds, oranges and bright yellows.

Who doesn’t enjoy the truly satisfying crunch of going for an autumny walk, crunching and stomping through the fallen leaves?

It's not just the UK that appreciates autumn colour. Fall (as they call it in the US) foliage is a huge tourism opportunity as millions of visitors head to the New England states in the North East to see the vibrant colours of oak, ash, maple and hickory trees.

Japan is another country famous for its spectacular autumnal colour, known as koyo, with tourists flooding to the islands to see beautiful Japanese maples (acers), among others.

When does Autumn start in the UK?

The leaves start to turn colour around the mid to end of September, but it completely depends on the climate and the weather that year. The Autumn equinox, which is when days and nights are roughly of equal length, is on Sunday, September 23, 2018.

So why do the leaves change colour?

During the winter, the leaves on deciduous trees stop making food as daylight reduces and temperatures drop. As the green-coloured chlorophyll breaks down, we see the underlying yellow and orange colours emerging. Other colours can also emerge - made up from any remaining sugars left in the leaves. Different trees show us different colours due to their different chemical make-up.

Where can I go around Greater Manchester to see autumn colour?

There are numerous parks around the City region where you can see autumnal colour in all its glory. Alexandra Park in Whalley Range or the huge Wythenshawe Park are both beautiful places to go for a stroll.

You could head for Heaton Park, one of the largest municipal parks in Europe, or the beech woodland at Tandle Hill in Oldham. Clifton Country Park in Salford is a lovely place for a walk or stroll along Kersal Dale next to the River Irwell. You don't even have to travel to a large park or the countryside to see the flame-colours of Autumn, there are trees all over Greater Manchester, from the city centre and across the suburbs.

Using autumn leaves

While people prefer fallen leaves to be raked up from pavements and lawns so they don't become slippery and dangerous, there are many uses for fallen leaves in your garden.

Leaf mould compost: You can make leaf mould compost by collecting up all your leaves and putting them in a black bin bag with air holes in, or an open compost bin and waiting for them to rot down completely. When you have a fine crumbly compost, you can use it on your borders, beds and in pots to add nutrients to your soil.

Wildlife shelter: Alternatively you can sweep up all your garden leaves and leave them in a pile or area, maybe at the end of your garden, for wildlife to use for shelter or food. Worms eat leaves, which creates a rich compost for your soil when it is expelled, so it's always a good idea to leave some leaves lying around. Creatures such as hedgehogs can use leaf piles for shelter and for nesting material.

Get creative with the family: It's brilliant fun to create some artwork using leaves - and you don't have to be a young 'un to enjoy this. Unleash your inner child and grab some crayons to make leaf rubbings. It's also great fun to identify which trees the leaves have come from. How many can you identify without having to check on the internet?! We have some great ideas to get creative with our online resource.

Follow us on Twitter or Instagram @cityoftreesmcr to find out just how creative you can get with leaves! You can also join in to celebrate the Autumnal season across Greater Manchester. Share your photos of beautifully coloured trees and leaves, using the hashtag #autumnwatchmcr