Now many of you are reading this from North America where you can be justly proud of your ‘fall’ colours or colors, if you will, but back here in the UK we love our autumn hues as much. They are, maybe, not so brilliant, except where we grow the maples, but their soft subtle colours suit me just fine.
It has been my favourite season for a long time now - it used to share first place with spring, but it has edged over to reign supreme, since I began gardening in earnest and learnt so much more about the growth of plants.
When I was a child it was the colour and the fun of kicking one’s welly-booted way through the piles of crispy, crunchy, leaves on the ground - okay I didn’t really enjoy the raking up of them but the piles were fun to roll in.
I should have been sad that summer was coming to an end and my hated winter was due, but my twisted mind reasoned, that I had more time to read indoors in the winter, and this golden red period was the beginning.
Then I left home and discovered many amazing things about trees.
Then I went away and attended university and discovered a few more things scientific.
Then I came home and took up gardening.
Discovered I had been lied to for may childhood years.
Winter was not the end of the year. Not the last season of the year. Winter was only the second season.
Autumn was the start of the year. The 1st of September should be the New Year celebration. By the first of January we are well into the next year.
August is the death of the year, plants go over, they droop and disperse their seeds, nuts and berries. They fall on the ground - if left in natural cycles and not cleared away they would help to keep seeds warm, covered and fed for the cold months to come. Duvets for the young.
The ground beneath our feet through those cold winter months is an industrious place. Remember the runner bean seed. The roots go down first, they slowly push their way through the earth, sucking up and processing nourishment as they go. The soils top cover of fallen plants and leaves helping warming the earth, and creatures such as worms pulling this mulch down to turn into food.
When spring comes, the 3rd season of the year, the shoots leap away breaking out of the hard ground.
So when those leaves change colour they are the sign that new life is started.
Xanthophyll from the Greek xanthos = yellow and
phyllon = leaf
Xanthophyll is is closely related to carotenes (which produce orange) but differs in the possession of oxygen and the result is the yellow pigment thath green leaves contain and which becomes gloriously obvious in autumn.
Most of the Xanthophyll found in nature occur in green leaves - but here's another fact it also appears in animals who consume green leaves We possess it because we eat green leaves, and the by- products of other animals who have consumed leaves.
So when the first of the autumn leaves begin to turn golden I know the whole cycle has begun again and that's kind of exciting.