My article in Gardens Illustrated celebrating the autumn equinox with the trees came out this week. It was published to coincide not only with this important seasonal change but to mark the forthcoming publication of my next book, The Tree Almanac 2024.
The autumn equinox on 23 September marks the end of summer and the beginning of autumn. Astronomically, the Sun lights up northern and southern hemispheres equally, and from now on our days in Europe begin to shorten. Phenologically — meaning how nature responds to changing conditions — autumn is more fluid and can vary significantly from year to year with the vagaries of weather and climate. For many people, this might be a time tinged with regret for the passing joys of summer. If you find yourself seasonally affected, for instance suffering from lethargy or even mild depression due to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), then taking a leaf out of nature can be wonderfully restorative.
Autumn is less about decay and cessation than you may think, instead consider it a time to celebrate rebirth and life anew. Our trees in the garden, orchard or forest are burgeoning with fruit, each containing one or more seeds to forge future life. Across much of the UK (less common in Scotland) and Ireland, keep a look out during country walks for our most showy native tree, spindle (Euonymus europaeus). Its pink velvet fruit split open to reveal bright orange seeds known as arils (once used to make dyes), bedazzling the robins, blackbirds and song thrushes which count it as a favourite.
Tree seeds often need periods of cold weather to overcome dormancyGabriel Hemery, Gardens Illustrated, September 2023
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